Being an architect is no easy feat. They have the responsibility of creating buildings that are safe and up to date with the latest innovations. With such a challenging job, it’s no wonder that some architects have failed over the years. Whether its a bridge swaying in the wind or a roof that’s collapsed under rainfall, some of these miscalculations had catastrophic outcomes. Destruction aside, some architecture fails are mere eyesores or ghost towns. Read on for an array of structures that didn’t live up to the blueprint.
The Standard Oil Building
The Standard Oil Building– today called the Aon Center– is the third-largest skyscraper in Chicago. While it looks like any other building you might expect to see in a metropolitan area, it has a rocky history that makes it stand out among the rest.
Built back in 1973, the architects elected to cover its external surface in marble. The creative choice went South when one of the slabs detached the following year. After the marble was deemed unsuitable, $80 million went into removing the material and switching it with granite.
The Leaning Tower Of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a tourist destination that is a marvel to witness. But that doesn’t mean that it was built that way on purpose. In actuality, the tower is a byproduct of terrible architectural planning.
The tower’s famous lean is a result of a poor foundation that was built on grounds ill-equipped to handled such a building. Construction has since ensued to prevent the structure from tumbling over, but it still continues to sink.
Zizkov Television Tower
If you’re looking for a highly debatable topic, look no further than the Zizkov Television Tower. While some would call the unusual design of this Prague building a breakthrough in modern architecture, others would call it an aesthetic failure, to say the least.
Built in the late ’80s, this transmitter tower is anything but discrete. In an attempt to further embellish the questionable masterpiece, architects decided in 2001 to add large babies crawling up and down the surface.
The Secret Service Intelligence Building
Located in London, the Secret Service Intelligence Building has a unique design that’s easy to recognize. While its a triumph in terms of architectural creativity, that’s also the problem. Home to MI5 and MI6 (Military Intelligence, sections 5 and 6), this building isn’t exactly one you’d want to have stick out like a sore thumb.
The building is also home to fictional character James Bond, which makes it even less discrete! The temple-looking building is criticized by some as being much too loud given its purpose.
The John Hancock Tower
The John Hancock Tower is a gorgeous sight in Boston. Unfortunately, it’s beauty is precisely what caused disastrous consequences. What gives the building its glorious shine are the 500-pound windows that completely cover each side of its surface.
Architects discovered that beauty truly is a pain when the windows started popping out without warning. All 10,344 windows ultimately had to be replaced. If that weren’t enough, the building also caused motion sickness due to high wind speeds causing the structure to sway. The problem was eventually solved with a tuned mass damper.
The Vdara Hotel
The Vdara Hotel is a famous location in Las Vegas that was initially recognized for its beautiful architecture. Unfortunately, the building has since received negative attention due to its black, reflective surface, earning the spot the unflattering nickname “death ray hotel.”
Guests complained that the sunlight reflecting off the curved building was so intense that it burned the skin of pool loungers. Hotel officials responded by putting up big umbrellas and covering the hotel’s exterior with a non-reflective film.
Walkie Talkie Tower
Rafael Viñoly, the architect who designed the Vdara Hotel in Vegas, was the mastermind behind the Walkie Talkie Tower in London. The concave design reflects the afternoon sun back onto nearby streets, causing passersby to block themselves from the blinding light.
In addition to being a literal eyesore, the building causes the streets to reach high temperatures. Some have even complained of car damage due to the building’s dangerous design. After reporter Jim Waterson managed to fry an egg in the structure’s glare, people began calling it the “Fryscraper.”
The Ryugyong Hotel
The Ryugyong Hotel has achieved international notice for being the 22nd largest building in the world, and for still having yet to open for business. The glorious building first went under construction in 1987, and decades later it remains unfinished.
Located in North Korea, the structure has the potential to offer 3,000 hotel rooms across its 105 floors. The first halt in construction came in 1992 during an economic crisis. Though they resumed in 2008 and managed to finish the exterior in 2011, the building’s completion remains to be seen.
The Ray And Maria Stata Center
The Ray and Maria Stata Center opened in 2004 as a unique addition to MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Labs. The design seemed perfect for the area of study until things started to literally fall apart.
The school ended up suing the building’s architect, award-winning Frank Gehry, after structural flaws caused walls to crack, icicles to form, and mold growth. The school spent well over a million dollars repairing the building. Worst of all, the construction company claimed to have known the design was doomed all along.
The Experience Music Project (EMP) Building
If you thought MIT’s Ray and Maria Stata Center was playing it safe, just take a look at this Frank Gehry masterpiece. This building was designed as a part of the Experience Music Project in Seattle.
Frank claims that it was the shape of a guitar that inspired this mess of a building. Apparently, if you don’t see the deeper meaning in this architectural creation, you’re just not artistic enough. Don’t worry; critics aren’t buying it either.
Tacoma Narrows Bridge
The Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington opened in 1940, but it wasn’t long before the bridge saw its demise. As the third-largest suspension bridge in the world, it seemed like an architectural achievement at first.
That all changed four months later when the structure’s poor design gave way to powerful winds due to a phenomenon called aeroelastic flutter. Though no humans were lost to the event, a dog did pass in the ordeal, and his owner was later reimbursed.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, is quite a sight to behold. Whether you’re a fan of the curvaceous design or think it looks like art gone mad, the structure has some undeniable flaws that leave neighbors critical of its design.
As with some of the buildings we’ve already seen, this concert hall has a shiny surface that reflects sunlight and heat. What makes this building even worse is that the random design casts this light in all different directions. Complaints have included difficulty seeing while driving near the building, hot pavement, and warm buildings nearby.
The Kemper Arena
From concerts to presidential rallies to sports championships, The Kemper Arena in Kansas City has seen many major events since it opened its doors in 1976. One recognizable feature of this building was its trussled roof, which proved to be flawed when a 1979 storm hit.
The roof’s design was initially thought to be clever as it released rainfall slowly to prevent flooding in the nearby areas. That’s precisely what lead to the roof filling with water and caving in, causing the original building to fall to pieces.
The Lotus Riverside Complex
Many of us have seen construction workers put up buildings before. The common occurrence went terribly wrong in Shanghai in the summer of 2009. The third building of a 15-story-high apartment complex fell on its side while under construction!
Thankfully no one was living in the building when the tip-over occurred, but the incident did cost the life of one construction worker. Nine officials were later tried for the event, six of which were found guilty.
The CNA Building
The CNA building in Chicago is a red highrise that’s impossible to miss, especially when its windows transform into a light display at night. The 44-story building hasn’t always had a positive history, though.
Built in 1972, the structure had a mishap almost three decades after it opened that lead to a single fatality. Due to thermal expansion, one of the windows on the 29th floor had a piece fall off and strike a passerby. The tragic mishap resulted in an $18 million settlement.
Citi Field Baseball Stadium
The Citi Field Baseball Stadium in New York City opened its doors in 2009 as a replacement to the Shea Stadium, which was built back in 1964. Home to the New York Mets, the stadium was renovated just one year after construction ended to fix an obstructed view of the bullpen and incorporate more team colors and logos.
Despite the hundreds of millions spent on the stadium, it still has broken elevators, water leaks, and mold. Additionally, Jerry Seinfield’s suite at the stadium had to undergo half a million dollars in repairs due to an electrical issue.
The Millenium Dome
As the name implies, the Millenium Dome in London opened on January 1, 2000, as a celebratory symbol of the new millennium. The twelve support towers on top of the dome are meant to represent each month of the year and the dome’s diameter is 365 meters!
Though the dome cost more than a billion dollars to build, it ended up attracting half as many visitors as was initially estimated. $40 million later, the dome was reborn as a music venue.
The Dubai Mall Aquarium
Housing tens of thousands of sea creatures, an aquarium is the last thing you would want to fail. Shockingly, that’s exactly what happened in Dubai circa 2010. Worst of all, the aquarium is attached to the world’s largest shopping mall!
Fortunately, the crisis was averted after water was discovered leaking from the aquarium. The mall was evacuated and no people or animals were harmed. Six divers worked tirelessly to ensure that the leak was repaired, and managed to avert a dire crisis!
The Kangbashi District
China’s Kangbashi District is a prime example of a good idea going horribly wrong. The district is about 18 miles outside of Ordos City, and it cost $352 million just to lay down the roads!
Roads, buildings, and other structures were put up over the course of 5 years to adhere to a projected 1 million resident occupancy. After all that money and planning, the district remains a complete ghost town! Today it is heralded as China’s most famous ghost city.
The Pier One Playground
The Pier One playground in Brooklyn looks like any other children’s park you might expect to find, but that wasn’t always the case. Architects initially built this playground out of 100% steel materials!
We have to assume the designers behind the idea weren’t parents, because anyone with kids could explain why that’s a terrible idea. Sure enough, parents went on to measure the playground at a whopping 127 degrees! The park was redone in 2010 and today consists of safer materials.