To better understand the meaning of "skyscraper," BIG BUILDINGS examines high-rise size over the century. While ascending height is the subject that has attracted the greatest attention, increasing size also characterizes the evolution of the building type. Included in this survey are structures that were at one time the world's tallest or that are Jumbos or Super Jumbos, categories invented for this exhibition that describe size measured by volume.

In every period, a few buildings are much bigger than others and often one or two are extraordinarily large. Of some seventy buildings through history and around the globe today that qualify as Tallest Towers, Jumbos, or Super Jumbos, nearly two-thirds were erected in New York, the world's preeminent skyscraper city.