Architects are often commissioned to design buildings that never get built for a range of reasons such as spiralling cost, unrealistic design and excessive ambition.
Here’s a list of 10 buildings from major cities all over the world that never went beyond the design phase.
Hotel Attraction: 1908/ New York City
Planned as the tallest building in New York, Hotel Attraction was designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. At 360m, the design was considered unrealistic for that time and never saw the light of day. Interestingly, Gaudi’s drawing of the hotel was proposed for the Ground Zero project in Manhattan.
The Illinois: 1956/ Chicago, Illinois
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, The Illinois was proposed as a mile-high skyscraper, standing 1,609m tall. Though Wright believed the 528-storey building could have been constructed, the design was problematic for several reasons including the fact that the space required to service the elevators would occupy most of the lower floors.
Fourth Grace: 2002/ Liverpool, England
‘Ugly’ may not be the ideal response for any design but Fourth Grace, conceptualised by architect Will Alsop was considered so by many. Though he called it ‘The Cloud’, the project was named ‘Fourth Grace’ thanks to its location next to the three historic buildings at the Pier Head site known as ‘The Three Graces’. Encompassing office space, a hotel and multiple community facilities, the project was cancelled in 2004 because of mounting costs.
Beacon of Progress: 1891/ Chicago, Illinois
Planned as a 457m stone tower in Jackson Park, Chicago, the design by French-born architect and MIT Professor Désiré Despradelle never came to fruition for lack of funding.
Ville Contemporaine: 1922/ Paris, France
An ambitious plan by French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier to house about three million people in a collection of 60-storey skyscrapers, Ville Contemporaine was designed as a steel frame structure, encased in huge glass curtain walls. Designed for extremely wealthy people, the project would house their offices as well as residences. The integrated transportation centre would include depots for buses and trains, as well as a highway and an airport at the top. Interestingly, Le Corbusier created this design in response to the urban housing crisis.
Tatlin’s Tower: 1917/ St. Petersburg, Russia
A tower built from iron, glass and steel with a twin helix form going up 400m, Tatlin’s Tower was planned as a structure that would eclipse the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A design highlight of the proposed structure was a rotating cube at the base designed to host lectures, conferences and legislative meetings, with the cube completing a single rotation over one year.
Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid: 2004/ Tokyo, Japan
Proposed as a gargantuan pyramid over Tokyo Bay, the Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid was designed as the largest man-made structure on Earth to house 750,000 people. If and when built, the structure composed of 55 smaller pyramids stacked five high, would be 12 times higher than the Great Pyramid at Giza. The project never took off from the design phase because the super-strong lightweight materials needed to build it are not available yet.
Ultima Tower: 1991/ San Francisco, California
Based on the tallest structure not made by man – African termite nests, the Ultima Tower was conceived by architect Eugene Tsui as part of a study of the compact urban area of San Francisco. Over three kms high with 500 storeys, and purported to be able to house one million residents, the building was designed to convert the difference in atmospheric pressure at the top and bottom of the structure into electrical power.
Palace of Soviets: 1933/ Moscow, Soviet Union
Unlike many of the examples here, the Palace of Soviets, based on the winning design by Boris Iofan, was partially constructed but terminated due to the German invasion. Its steel frame was dismantled for use in the war. Planned as the world’s tallest structure, it was to come up on the site of the demolished Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Ultimately, the Cathedral was rebuilt in 1995-2000.
Volkshalle (The Great Dome): 1930/ Berlin, Germany
Planned by Adolf Hitler and his architect Albert Speer as Berlin’s most important and impressive building in terms of size and symbolism, the Volkshalle (People’s Hall) was stopped by the war. An interesting aspect of this design is a pedestal with the Nazi eagle figure, which gives an illusion of Hitler’s face, but only at a particular time of the year.