Each episode is an educational look of varying depth into the construction, operation, and staffing of various structures or construction projects, but not ordinary construction products.
Generally containing interviews with designers and project managers, it presents the problems of construction and the methodology or techniques used to overcome obstacles. In some cases (such as the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge and Petronas Towers) this involved the development of new materials or products that are now in general use within the construction industry.
MegaStructures focuses on constructions that are extreme; in the sense that they are the biggest, tallest, longest, or deepest in the world. Alternatively, a project may appear if it had an element of novelty or are a world first (such as Dubai's Palm Islands). This type of project is known as a Megaproject.
Nimitz classSupercarrier for the U.S. Navy — The USS Ronald Reagan is a 4.5 billion-dollar Nimitz-class supercarrier. Powered by 2 nuclear reactors, the 1100 ft. long vessel is equipped with all the necessary facilities to house 6,000 personnel and over 80 aircraft. Viewers are given an exclusive look at how the crew of this ‘floating naval base’ is put through a series of tests in order to obtain their flight deck certification. Take a glimpse at the various facilities on the ship that keep the 6,000-strong crew fed, rested, and entertained.
German Autobahnen — What began as a racing track grew into a sophisticated high-speed road system, linking to almost all the major cities in Germany. The Autobahn boasts super thick road beds, 4% or less grades, wide lanes, and utilizes sophisticated technology.
Undersea tunnel between Coquelles, France and Folkestone, United Kingdom — The Channel Tunnel or Euro Tunnel is one of the world’s longest underground rail tunnels, and links England with France. Consisting of two rail tunnels and a small service tunnel, it totals 153 km in length. This episode looks at the race between the British and the French to complete the tunneling of the Channel Tunnel and the obstacles faced in its construction.
Tallest building in Chicago, Illinois — For 20 years, the Sears Tower held the record for the world’s tallest building. Completed in 1973, the 110 stories high building is almost half a kilometer tall. And it still holds the record for having the world’s highest antenna. John Zils, structural engineer and designer of this mega-structure, shares some of the tower's secrets. And get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the various systems and controls that are vital to the building, such as security monitoring, elevators, the water and power distribution that supplies its many floors, and even the machines that clean the windows.
Airport on artificial island in Osaka Bay — Located 5 km off the coast of Osaka, Japan is the Kansai International Airport. The airport is built entirely on a man-made island, 4 km long and 1 km wide. The only link between the island and Osaka is by the world’s longest 2-tiered bridge. Although the airport is built to withstand earthquakes and typhoons, the artificial island itself is sinking faster than anticipated. This episode looks at various measures that are taken to keep the airport ‘afloat,' and the various facilities and services available to keep the airport running.
World's longest suspension bridge — In 1955, two ferries sank along the Akashi Strait in Japan, killing 168 children. The tragedy led to 30 years of research to design a bridge that would link Awaji Island to Kobe. The bridge would need to be able to withstand severe earthquakes and typhoons. In 1988, Japan began construction of the world’s longest, highest and most expensive suspension bridge. This episode presents a stage by stage look at the construction of the bridge, and the obstacles faced in its construction, including the Kobe earthquake in 1995.
Dam on the Paraná River — In the Paraná River of South America, lies the Itaipú Dam. Costing 20 billion dollars, the Itaipú Dam is the world's largest and most powerful hydroelectric power plant. It is the culmination of the efforts, accomplishments, and cooperation of two countries, Brazil and Paraguay. This episode examines the efforts undertaken and the sacrifices made to construct the dam, including how the largest diversion channel was constructed to divert water from the world’s 7th largest river away from the main construction site.
Twin tower skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur — Designed by Cesar Pelli, the Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings as of their completion date. Located in Kuala Lumpur, the 88 story, 450m tall twin towers carry an Islamic geometrical influence, and are a symbol of Malaysian pride. To foster competition, the contract for the construction of the towers was awarded to two different construction companies, each assigned to work on one of the towers. This episode examines the race between the companies to each complete their tower first, as well as various construction challenges, including soil quality issues, the unique cement mixture that was needed as a steel substitute, and tropical weather.