The BEST Episodes of Megastructures
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2020
Network: National Geographic
Take an eye-popping look at the greatest structures and machines ever created as we focus on some of the world's modern-day super-human miracles of construction.
#1 - World's Biggest Airliner (Airbus A380)
Season 2005 - Episode 16 - Aired Oct 4, 2005
It is the largest passenger plane ever built and it is a 12 billion dollar investment. The episode documents the history of the Airbus A380, from its design concept, its interior features, the precision manufacturing, the logistics, the final assembly and its final maiden flight.
#2 - Hoover Dam
Season 2006 - Episode 4 - Aired May 16, 2006
Exploring Nevada's Hoover Dam in Black Canyon on the Colorado River. The 726-foot dam weighs more than 6,600,000 tons and is 660 feet thick at its base. Completed in 1936, it can store up to two years' worth of the Colorado's average water flow, and generates four billion hours of hydroelectric power a year.
#3 - Sears Tower
Season 2004 - Episode 4 - Aired Sep 29, 2004
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 secrets about the tower. And get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the various systems and controls that are vital to the building, like security monitoring, the elevators, and the water and power distribution to the various levels, and even the machines that cleans the windows.
#4 - Autobahn
Season 2004 - Episode 2 - Aired Sep 19, 2004
What began as a racing track, and thanks to Adolf Hitler’s World War II propaganda efforts, the track grew into a sophisticated high-speed road system, linking to almost all the major cities in Germany. The Autobahn boasts of having super thick road beds, 4% or less grades, wide lanes, and build on layers of technology. The Autobahn allows vehicles to travel at speeds exceeding 160km/h for roughly 2/3 of its roads. The episode profiles the operations of the highway cops, and their reliance on technology in training, monitoring of roads and various methods of arrest. It also looks at the ADAC, an automobile club, which provides on the spot road assistance. Nicknamed ‘The Yellow Angels’, they also provide air medical rescue. The system of maintenance of the Autobahn is also examined. All this infrastructure makes this mega structure into one of the world’s most safest super highway.
#5 - Kansai International Airport
Season 2004 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 13, 2004
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. The episode looks at the various measures that are taken to keep the airport ‘afloat’, and the various facilities and services available to keep the airport running.
#6 - World's Busiest Port
Season 2005 - Episode 4 - Aired May 13, 2005
Megastructure takes viewers on an inside look at how the Port of Singapore is able to move a third of the world's trade through the use of shipping and high-tech mega-systems.
#7 - Tau Tona - City Of Gold
Season 2005 - Episode 5 - Aired May 27, 2005
Located near Johannesburg, South Africa, the Tau Tona is a gold mine. The Tau Tona is the main economic life blood of Johannesburg, supplying half the world’s gold needs. It is the deepest and largest working mine in the world. Its main shaft is 3.6 km deep and consists of 800 km of tunneling. This episode gives viewers a tour of the dynamic systems involved in maintaining a working environment deep in the earth. It also provides a glimpse of what life as a mine worker is like in Tau Tona. Risking heat exhaustion, and with 10 earthquakes a day, the miners work through narrow tunnels to extract gold from a 25 cm thick gold vein.
#8 - Air Force Transport
Season 2005 - Episode 14 - Aired Sep 20, 2005
The episode profiles the C-5 Galaxy, one of the largest aircrafts in the world, and the operations of the crew of the mega-plane. The episode includes a look at how the C-5 Galaxy transports military equipment over to the troops in Iraq from America's Dover Air Force Base.
#9 - Machines of War: Tanks
Season 2006 - Episode 8 - Aired Aug 17, 2006
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#10 - Super Carrier: USS Ronald Reagan
Season 2004 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 15, 2004
The USS Ronald Reagan is a 4.5 billion dollars Nimitz-class supercarrier. Powered by 2 nuclear reactors, the 1100ft. long vessel is equipped with all the necessary facilities to house 6000 personnel and over 80 aircraft. Viewers are given an exclusive look at how the crew of these ‘floating naval base’ is put through a series of test in order to obtain their flight deck certification. Take a glimpse at the various facilities on the ship that keep the 6000 strong crew fed, rested, and entertained.
#11 - Itaipu Dam
Season 2004 - Episode 7 - Aired Oct 27, 2004
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 a representation of the efforts and accomplishment of two countries, Brazil and Paraguay. The 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.
#12 - Petronas Towers
Season 2004 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 10, 2004
Designed by Cesar Pelli, the Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world on the date of its completion. Located in Kuala Lumpur, the design of the 88 storey, 450m tall twin towers, carries an Islamic geometrical influence. The towers are a symbol of Malaysia’s pride. To instill competition, the contract for the construction of the towers were awarded to two different construction companies, each company was assigned to work on one of the towers. This episode takes a look at how the construction companies competed to complete their tower before the other. Problems faced, from the soil samples, the unique cement mixture used as a steel substitute, to the tropical weather, are covered.
#13 - Channel Tunnel
Season 2004 - Episode 3 - Aired Sep 22, 2004
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 in-between, they total 153 km in length. The documentary 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.
#14 - Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Season 2004 - Episode 6 - Aired Oct 20, 2004
In 1955, two ferries sank along the Akashi Strait, Japan, killing 168 children. It led to a 30 year research on designing a bridge that would link the Awaji Island to Kobe; the bridge would also have to be able to withstand severe earthquakes and typhoons, a norm in that area. In 1988, Japan began construction of the world’s longest, highest and most expensive suspension bridge, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. The episode presents a stage by stage look at the construction of the suspension bridge, and the obstacles faced in its construction, including the Kobe earthquake in 1995.
#15 - Science of Concrete
Season 2006 - Episode 15 - Aired Nov 14, 2006
Concrete: It is the most widely used building material on earth. It was a building block of the Roman Empire and is a material of choice for a new generation of gravity-defying skyscrapers. From the sidewalks of New York to the fast-growing Burj Dubai, slated to be the worlds tallest building when it is completed in 2008, concrete continues to be a crucial tool of engineers and architects alike. Concrete's footprint is everywhere.
#16 - Baikonur Cosmodrome
Season 2005 - Episode 24 - Aired Dec 13, 2005
Explore the Baikonur Cosmodrome, crown jewel of Russia's space program. Trace the glorious history of this megacomplex from the landmark launches of Sputnik and the first cosmonauts to its current status as a gateway to the International Space Station.
#17 - World's Fastest Rollercoaster
Season 2012 - Episode 7 - Aired Apr 27, 2011
Formula Rossa - The ultimate speed roller coaster is part of the world's largest indoor theme park - Ferrari World on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. This awe-inspiring ride takes you from 0 to 240 km/h in under 5 seconds. You can feel mind-blowing acceleration like in a Formula One car. Follow construction manager Andreas Granig and his team as they struggle against aggressive conditions in the desert environment and build up a power system which is unseen in the world. 20,800 horsepower propels the F1 Ferrari inspired coaster train to a height of 52 m and lets it run through more than 2km of humps, curves and camelbacks. See the dramatic installations 50 meters above ground. In their quest for speed the engineers overcome heat and danger to take the title for the fastest roller coaster in the world.
#18 - North Branch Correctional Institution (Hi-Tech Prison)
Season 2005 - Episode 15 - Aired Sep 20, 2005
High Security Prison, Allegany County, Maryland.
#19 - Impossible Bridges: Denmark to Sweden
Season 2006 - Episode 2 - Aired Apr 18, 2006
The Oresund, spanning 10 miles in length, is the longest bridge in the world. The bridge links countries Denmark and Sweden, and Megastructures chronicles the history in it's design and construction.
#20 - Inside NCIS
Season 2006 - Episode 5 - Aired May 30, 2006
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is the United States Department of the Navy's primary law enforcement agency. Let Megastructures give you a first hand tour!
#21 - Machines of War: Missiles
Season 2006 - Episode 10 - Aired Sep 7, 2006
Track the flight of a Tomahawk cruise missile from launch to target and discover the technology that makes the missile the ultimate surgical attack weapon.
#22 - Icelandic Super Dam
Season 2008 - Episode 10 - Aired Jun 18, 2008
This episode looks at the Karahnjukar Hydroelectric Project in Iceland - an audacious engineering feat that includes the building of Europe's highest dam, the drilling of 30-mile-long tunnels and the construction of a gigantic underground power plant.
#23 - Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge
Season 2011 - Episode 10 - Aired Oct 10, 2011
To save one of the most iconic engineering wonders of all time requires the creation of another masterpiece: the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.
#24 - Spaceport America
Season 2011 - Episode 9 - Aired Aug 29, 2011
Time was, if you wanted to leave earth, you needed a government ride. But in the very desert that helped give birth to the Space Age, Spaceport America will rise. The space version of an airport, it's a revolution in travel, with a revolutionary design to match. Yet the spaceport faces a world of hurdles. "Probably the most complicated project I've ever been on," says an engineer. The site sits in the middle of nowhere: no roads, no water, no power. And the spaceport won't be built unless a rancher controlling the land for a runway changes her mind.
#25 - Dubai's Dream Palace
Season 2007 - Episode 5 - Aired Aug 25, 2007
Megastructures heads to the tiny desert kingdom of Dubai to explore the remarkable engineering behind the seven-star Burj Al-Arab Hotel. Five years in the making, this striking building stands like a gigantic white sail off the shore of Dubai. As this programme reveals, a refusal to compromise on the part of the hotel’s young designers ensured that the project pushed the boundaries of design. The Burj Al-Arab was envisaged by Dubai’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as a means of diversifying the country’s economy away from oil into tourism. The Sheikh dreamt of a luxury hotel that would put Dubai on the world map, and surprised many by choosing a relatively inexperienced British firm to supply the design.