My shortlist (0 item)
    Leaning Tower of Pisa
    Ray and Maria Stata Center

    Top 10 architectural disasters of all time

    Branko Miletic

    Like in any other profession, architects are human, and they don’t always get it right. Over the centuries and throughout the world, there are a number of examples of designs that didn’t quite ‘make the cut’ as it were. Below are our top 10.

    1. Leaning Tower of Pisa

    The Tower of Pisa as it was once called, is a freestanding bell tower associated with the Cathedral of Pisa in Italy. Situated behind the cathedral, when it was being constructed way back in the late 1100’s, the tower started to tilt. This was due to a combination of inadequate foundations and the soft, unsuitable ground. This tilt became progressively worse during construction and the builders attempted to correct the problem.  But this wasn't enough. Over the following centuries, The Tower has continued to sink at about 1mm a year.

    2. Tacoma Narrows Bridge

    When it opened in 1940 in the US state of Washington, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was the third longest suspension bridge in the world. Four months later it spectacularly collapsed. This was partly due to the cheap girders that were used in its construction chosen, where it even used to sway during the building phase, earning it the nickname "Galloping Gertie". The Tacoma Narrows Bridge finally collapsed on the 7th of November, 1940 under the stress of 65km/h winds.

    3. Ray and Maria Stata Center

    Designed by the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, The Ray and Maria Stata Centre was opened in 2004. It houses MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Labs, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy and the Laboratory of Information and Decision Systems. By 2007, MIT was filing lawsuits for negligence against Gehry after design flaws and major structural problems were identified. Issues with drainage caused walls to crack, massive icicles hung precariously during winter months and even mould grew on the exterior walls. Repairs and alteration work cost the school more than $US1.5 million dollars.

    4.Olympic Stadia, Greece

    When Greece hosted the Olympics in 2004, dozens of stadiums were built to house various events. Most if these are now empty or secured with padlocked fences. The Olympics cost Athens around $US11 billion dollars to host, double what was budgeted for and was one of the reasons behind Greece's recent economic woes.

    5.Walkie Talkie Centre

    London’s Walkie Talkie Centre is an award-winning office block with a unique concave design that has by some been hailed as an architectural triumph. Unfortunately, the design also leads to some serious health and safety issues. For example, not long after its completion, complaints began to build over its tendency to focus of sunlight onto adjoining streets. In fact, the facade can reflect so much heat that apparently you are able to cook eggs on the street.

    6. Vdara Hotel & Spa

    The Hotel and Spa opened in 2009 in Las Vegas and features a fairly unique concave structure. The buildings' design in fact acts as a giant solar collector focussing the power of the sun directly into the swimming pool area. Some guests have claimed that they were regularly getting "burnt". One guest, in fact, claimed that the hotel's design had burned his hair and melted a plastic bag he had with him.

    7. Ryugyong Hotel

    Intended to be a 3000 bedroom hotel, North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel has yet to take in any guests.

    Construction commenced in 1987 and halted soon after in 1992, with a cost that has been estimated as being worth some 2 percent of North Korean's GDP over the last few decades. To this day it still remains unfinished, unopened and unoccupied. Even in this incomplete state, it is reportedly the 22nd largest skyscraper in the world.

    8. Kangbashi District of Ordos City

    In 2007, China decided to build the Kangbashi District of Ordos in the province of Inner Mongolia. The roads alone cost $US 352 million dollars to lay, and while the entire project took a just five years to complete, the site is literally a ghost town. The town was intended to house over 1 million citizens but it remains to this day some two-thirds empty and unoccupied.

    9.W.E.B. Du Bois Library

    The University of Massachusetts houses three distinguished libraries, with the best known being the W.E.B Du Bois library which was completed in 1974 and remains as the tallest library in the US at 26 storeys. However, soon after opening its doors, the outside brickwork began to shed bits of brick.

    To prevent this, some 60,000 books were removed from the library. Rumours then started circulating claiming that the building was sinking into the pond saturated grounds around the building. This has since been proven to be untrue, so perhaps this is not an architectural disaster after all.

    10. Zizkov Tower

    Built between 1985 and 1992, the Zizkov Television transmission tower in the Czech Republic capital of Prague is a unique example of a combination of high-tech architecture that has become a failure. Known locally as a horrible eyesore in an otherwise beautiful, elegant and medieval city, just to make matters worse, the designers decided to put statues of naked babies crawling up and down the tower in 2001.

    Read Comments

    You May Also Like:


    Back to Top