World's deepest building?
August 4, 2011 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Plans for a new world's tallest building makes me wonder -- what is the world's deepest building?

In other words, going down below ground rather than up above ground. I am not asking about oil wells, mines, or boreholes -- I'm asking about inhabited/in use structures. In addition, I think I'm more asking about number of floors rather than vertical depth.

So a way to rephrase the question might be --

What building on Earth has the highest number of accessible sub-surface levels?
posted by lewedswiver to Society & Culture (25 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the obvious place to start is subway systems. According to Wikipedia, the Arsenalna station on the Kiev Metro is 105.5m (>340ft) below ground. Now, that's one place I wouldn't want to have to get out of in a hurry.
posted by davidjohnfox at 4:12 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Onkalo waste repository in Finland has its laboratory and main storage facility ~420m underground. However, when it's finished it won't be accessible by humans for, oh, about 100,000 years. It's the subject of the documentary Into Eternity.
posted by carsonb at 4:19 PM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm sorry, final depth is planned at 520m.
posted by carsonb at 4:20 PM on August 4, 2011

Response by poster: Interesting, though I'm not really looking for something where they dug down for a very long time and opened a cavity underground for some industrial or other purpose.

I'm thinking of something probably a little more prosaic, a little more "building"-like -- perhaps some parking structure that just so happens to have twelve underground levels.
posted by lewedswiver at 4:26 PM on August 4, 2011 is really cool and almost fits the criteria.
posted by Jacen at 4:33 PM on August 4, 2011

Probably not exactly what you had in mind, but DRB just had a piece on The Biggest Man-Made Object Ever Towed. Oil rigs. These things are huge, but mostly submerged in water.
posted by adamrice at 4:36 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is the closest I can come up with.
posted by gjc at 4:38 PM on August 4, 2011

On the wikipedia page for the World Trade Center buildings I find a reference to sub-basement 6 of one of the towers. So that's a start.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:45 PM on August 4, 2011

Basically, it sounds like you're looking for the world's deepest occupiable foundations (which is what basements essentially are).

I don't know what the answer, but the answer will lie within the Venn diagram intersection of the following factors: 1)tall building 2)garbage soils on site (i.e. landfill, alluvial deposits, river deltas, etc) 3)high parking requirement

gjc's link to the WTC foundation is illustrative, including factors 1 and 2, although the WTC had plenty of people that didn't need to drive to it because NYC has a great transpo system, so it probably doesn't require the same amount of basement parking that a similar building in LA would need. Apparently, the Sportsplex at Hunter College is the deepest building in NYC though.
posted by LionIndex at 4:55 PM on August 4, 2011

The CBC Building in Vancouver is supposedly three times as deep as it is tall with a huge amount of studio space underground. The large vents in the picture pump air down to the lower floors. Unfortunately, the building is also the site of a Parkingson's cluster - one that includes Michael J Fox.
posted by helmutdog at 5:13 PM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

In an Earthquake country, it is quite common for buildings to go deep. A lot of building in Tokyo have parking garages 6 floors down. The Roppongi Oedo subway is 7 floors down. But speaking about subways, I think StPetersburg is supposed to be the deepest subway?
posted by lundman at 6:00 PM on August 4, 2011

Not sure about the specific answer to your question, but it is surprising how many underground buildings there are, even just in the US.
posted by gudrun at 6:46 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

The underground city of Derinkuyu in Cappadocia Turkey has eleven levels.
posted by Rash at 8:08 PM on August 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

This thread indicates the Sydney Opera House, at 12 underground levels, is the answer you are looking for.
posted by 3FLryan at 8:40 PM on August 4, 2011

(actually, the post in question just references Australia, but it wouldn't surprise me that the land Down Under holds this record)
posted by 3FLryan at 8:44 PM on August 4, 2011

Cool pick from my above link: That is a DEEP deep end.
posted by 3FLryan at 8:48 PM on August 4, 2011

Late to the party but had a fun time searching. The Civil Engineering Building at the University of Minnesota has 7 underground stories (energy conservation). I suspect aside from energy conservation or bragging rights, the other candidates would be involved in nuclear research.
posted by zippy at 9:33 PM on August 4, 2011

There's also the Shaw Conference Centre in Alberta, Canada that may go ten stories underground (I didn't find a good cite for this though).
posted by zippy at 9:35 PM on August 4, 2011

Sixteen underground floors

GoogleFu inspired by xkcd: "x underground floors"; it's interesting how much fanfic shows up for larger x. :)
posted by trevyn at 10:16 PM on August 4, 2011

I would look for very tall buildings , in unstable geological environments or swampy ground.
The Shanghai Tower is a under construction 600 meter office tower being built on quite marshy land. According to wikipedia it will have usable subsurface floor area of 170 000 sq m. I couldn't immediately find the number of floors but there are pictures of the hole they dug for the foundations on wiki:
posted by Catfry at 11:49 PM on August 4, 2011

It probably doesn't qualify as the deepest by some margin, but the Ministry of Defence building in London is known in some parts as the Iceberg. It has a minimum of 8 floors underground.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:47 AM on August 5, 2011

This former Nuclear Missile Silo says it has 9 floors going down 178 feet. If you used the conventional commercial building measurement of 1 floor = 10 feet, that would be almost 18 floors.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 5:24 AM on August 5, 2011

I would look into missle silos. There are a couple of homes that people have built into empty missle silos.
posted by majortom1981 at 6:37 AM on August 5, 2011

The WIPP is 2150 feet down, but I think it has only one "floor". Its essentially a parking garage with very, very, very long term parking.
posted by yohko at 3:55 PM on August 5, 2011

Just saw this on TV and remembered this question:

Could 'Earthscraper' really turn architecture on its head?
(CNN) -- A team of Mexican architects have designed a 65-story glass and steel pyramid to sit in the middle of Mexico City's most historic plaza. But, if it ever gets built, you won't see it anywhere on the skyline.

That's because it would be the world's first ever "earthscraper" -- a 300-meter deep office and living space with ambitions to turn the modern high-rise, quite literally, on its head.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:37 PM on October 28, 2011

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