The biggest building in the world by height is the Taipei 101 at 508 meters high and 101 stories. If there are any acrophobics out there looking for exposure therapy, this would be the building to ride the elevator in; only 37 seconds to the 87th or 91st floor at almost 17 meters per second! The 101st floor is home to a private club called Summit 101. I was unable to track down any information about this club, but it is fun to think up lots of conspiracy theories about what could be going on up there: alien experimentation, secret society meetings, or a giant Cthuluian monster in front of a 1000 line switchboard forwarding calls to other galaxies. I digress. The building is owned by the Taipei Financial Center Corporation, but managed by a firm out of Chicago. Obviously many firms have offices in this monolith, including a couple that most people are familiar with; Starbucks and ING Direct.
Of particular note about 101 are the design features that incorporate Fung Shui principles. Starting at the top is a giant torch that has a different color for each day of the week; a symbolism of people’s connection to one another and to the sky. 101 also has one of its corners on a T-junction known to drain Ch’i from a building and the people within. Outside this entrance is a fountain; water is said to generate positive Ch’I to counteract the T-junction.
Taipei is a hotspot for typhoons and earthquakes, so Taipei 101 is built using innovative techniques to make it one of the most stable buildings in the world. At its foundation are 380 piles reaching 80 meters into the earth. During 101’s construction, an earthquake of 6.8 in magnitude hit Taipei and the building sustained no structural damage. 101 also has the one of the largest tuned mass dampers in the world; a ball and pendulum design that serves to counteract powerful winds, earthquakes and mechanical motion generated en masse by the 1000s of people moving between its floors.
Some naysayers out there may think that the Burj Dubai is taller than the Taipei 101. They are right. The Burj Dubai surpassed the height of the 101 in 2007, but since it is not scheduled to be completed until 2009, it is technically not classified as a building yet according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. The powers that decide these things base “tallest” on 4 different categories (no answer is ever just simple is it?): height to the structural top including spires , but not antennas or flagpoles, height to the highest occupied floor, height to the top of the roof, and height to the top of the antenna. No matter which way you slice it, it isn’t the size of your building that counts, but the length of the pointy bit on the top.
An honorable mention should be made to address area and volume in terms of biggest. The Boeing factory in Washington State is the biggest by volume; usable space at 13.3 million cubic meters, and the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in the Netherlands is the biggest by area at 990,000 square meters; evidently, airplanes are taller than flowers.