What is a Megastructure?

Since man first thought to reshape the environment to better suit his needs, society has called on civil engineers to help construct these efforts. In time, the idea – and in some cases the need – came about to complete these plans on an extremely large scale which civil engineers refer to as megastructures. These megastructures often consist of retaining walls, dams, bridges, buildings or a variety of other structures that require the planning and skill of civil engineers. There are no clear guidelines as to what defines a megastructure; however, they are easily identifiable because of their imposing stature. The following six civil engineering projects are great examples of megastructures and the value they can provide to their culture and community.

The Egyptian Pyramids

When Egypt was at the height of economic prosperity, the Egyptians erected massive tombs to house their rulers after death. They believed these rulers were also their gods and that they must preserve their bodies to continue to prosper. The largest pyramids in the world, the Great Pyramids of Giza, stand almost 482 feet tall (approximately 44 modern stories) and are almost 756 feet along its four bases. Almost 4,000 years later, these structures are still standing.

Great Wall of China

Before and during the Ming Dynasty, builders erected the Great Wall of China, conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang to help stop invading forces. Although the wall was not effective for its intended purpose, it serves as a symbol of China’s power, and to date, a large part of this structure still stands and measures 5,500 miles long.

The Capital Gate

Developed by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, the Capital Gate – also known as the Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi – is a Guinness World Records holder for the furthest leaning man-made tower, with an angle of 18 degrees. The structure stands almost 48 stories tall, houses 15,000 square feet of business space, and is home to a five-star hotel.

The Revel Hotel and Casino

Developers conceived the Revel Hotel and Casino to exploit the healthy gaming market in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The project cost almost three billion dollars to complete, created the second tallest building in the entire state of New Jersey, and was the epitome of contemporary beauty in architecture. The Revel project was so massive it endured several financing shortfalls during construction, and as of 2016, this gargantuan structure stands empty.

The Shanghai MAGLEV Train

Engineers in Shanghai, China have developed a new mass transit medium called the MAGLEV (magnetic levitation) train. In just eight minutes, the transport carries passengers 18 miles at almost 270 miles per hour, between downtown Shanghai and the metropolis airport. This trip traditionally takes an hour by highway. In the future, the Transrapid Consortium – an international cooperative manufacturing the MAGLEV and its rail system – hopes to transform long-distance travel globally.

The Deep Sea Highway

The metropolis of Busan, South Korea, is developing a five-mile highway that runs underwater from congested Busan to Geoje, a neighboring island with a sparse population. The trip currently takes travelers three and a half hours by highway. This mega-project will reduce travel time between the two land masses to only forty minutes, while also opening up Geoje as a habitat relief conduit for the crowded Busan masses.

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As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University offers exceptional opportunities to help advance your knowledge, target your skills, and gain greater proficiency as a professional civil engineer. The online Master of Civil Engineering program at Norwich University is designed to enhance your technical knowledge, management skills and engineering competence by delivering a modern, practice-orientated education that fosters creativity and critical thinking for problem solving and innovation.


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