In one of the prequels to Dune books, I forget which, they describe a 900+ story building that is in ruins. In The Night Land, the Last Redoubt is a pyramid seven miles tall.

I haven't seen the new Judge Dredd (I liked the one with Stallone) but I'm told it all takes place within an impossibly tall building.

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    If you don't limit yourself to planet based buildings then simply point at a Death Star.
    – Zoredache
    Oct 8, 2013 at 6:44
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    @Zoredache: there's far larger artificial structures in space - Ringworlds, Dyson spheres... I think it would be best to limit the question to freestanding, aboveground, artificial and inhabited structures on planets. Oct 8, 2013 at 10:32
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    @Zoredache The question does ask for the tallest terrestrial structure.
    – Xantec
    Oct 8, 2013 at 11:53
  • Re: Dredd - the Peachtree Building is said to be 200 stories. The real-life Burj Khalifa in Dubai has an observation deck at 163 stories. The planned Sky City in China will be 202. The Peachtree would be impressively tall, but not "impossible".
    – phantom42
    Oct 8, 2013 at 13:36
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    I'm going to assume OP really meant "planet based" when they wrote "terrestrial", edit the title and vote to reopen.
    – Spencer
    Nov 22, 2021 at 22:43

3 Answers 3


At 20 kilometres (12.4 miles), Neal Stephenson's Tall Tower Project has at least your examples beat, and also the distinction that it's essentially a serious investigation of what could be done using current technology, if money were no factor.


A Space Fountain can be as short as 2000 kilometers (way shorter than a space elevator). The structure is held up by streams of pellets electromagnetically coupled to the walls.


Ultima Tower from Stephen Baxter's novel Flood. It is located in Manhattan in the flooded world of the novel's setting. It is described as being 10 miles or over 16 km tall, consisting of 960 levels.

Some other examples -

The Mile High Tower in the Judge Dredd comics - Exact height varies but has been depicted from 1 mile up to 2.5 miles tall (1.6 - 4 km). Serves as part of the vast cityscape of Mega-City One.

Trantor in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series - The capital planet of the Galactic Empire featured a continuous mass of metal constructed thousands of stories tall covering the entire surface of the planet.

Babylon 5 space station in the TV series of the same name - The cylindrical station is 10 miles tall (16 km) and houses 250,000 inhabitants. Not a planet-based structure but shows the epic scale possible in sci-fi construction.

Imperial Palace on Coruscant in Star Wars - The restored palace of Emperor Palpatine towered over surrounding skyscrapers, with a height of several kilometers up to 5 km claimed in some sources.

Ziggurat in Peter Hamilton's The Naked God - A massive stepped pyramidal tower reaching up from an enclosed planet, about 5 km tall with 500 levels.

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