One of the earliest uses of this feature was at the Basilica di Sant'Andrea di Mantova, designed by Leon Battista Alberti and begun in 1472. From designs by Raphael for his own palazzo in Rome on an island block it seems that all facades were to have a giant order of pilasters rising at least two storeys to the full height of the piano nobile, "a grandiloquent feature unprecedented in private palace design". He appears to have made these in the two years before his death in 1520, which left the building unstarted. It was further developed by Michelangelo at the Palaces on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, (1564-68), where he combined giant pilasters of Corinthian order with small Ionic columns that framed the windows of the upper story and flanked the loggia openings below.
The giant order became a major feature of later 16th century Mannerist architecture, and Baroque architecture. Its use by Andrea Palladio justified its use in the seventeenth century in the movement known as neo-Palladian architecture. it continued to be used in Beaux-Arts architecture of 1880-1920.
The giant order is also known as the "colossal order."