8 Of The Biggest Architectural Disasters Of All Times


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Architecture is a critical combination of art, design, architecture, safety, economics and aesthetics. Sometimes the designs turn out great, but sometimes a minor problem remains neglected turning the entire project into a disaster. We have picked some of the most catastrophic construction projects in history for you.

8. W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts is home to three libraries including the Music Reserve Lab and Science and Engineering Library, but the most famous one is the W.E.B Du Bois Library, which is the tallest one in the US at 26 stories. Soon after the completion, the outer brickwork of the building began to chip off. Rumors said that the reason was the weight of the books that the architect had not accounted for in the design. 60,000 books were removed from the library, and investigations later found that the building was actually sinking into the pond grounds around it.

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 7. Ryugyong Hotel, North Korea

The Ryungyong Hotel, designed to house 3,000 bedrooms began construction in 1987 and abruptly stopped in 1992. It was never completed, costing the country 2% of its annual budget through the decades. Due to money shortage and faulty engineering, the building remains unfinished to this day, never having opened to any visitors or occupants. Despite this, the building is the 22nd tallest skyscraper in the world.

6. The Dubai Aquarium

The Dubai Aquarium in the world’s largest shopping mall is one of the most amazing tourist attractions of the city, holding 400 sharks and stingrays along with 33,000 other fish. In just the first five days of the 2.5 million gallon aquarium’s opening, 60,000 tickets were sold. Nothing went wrong for two years, but in the February of 2010, water was found leaking from the massive tank. An army of workers mopped the floor of the mall while six divers fixed the leak. It must have been pretty embarrassing, but thankfully no fish were harmed.

5. John Hancock Tower, Boston

The John Hancock Tower in Boston is a 60 story building designed by I M Pei and Partners. The skyscraper’s minimalist was appreciated when it opened up in 1976, but things were not as great as they looked. Soon after, the window panes began to fall out due to unexpected thermal stresses. The 10,000 windows in the skyscraper were replaced well in time, but that was not the only trouble. Every skyscraper is designed to sway with high winds but in this one, the movement was so bad that the occupants of top floors reported motion sickness.William LeMessurier, A Cambridge engineer soon fixed the problem.

4. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles was designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry. While the design looks beautiful with the shiny and elegant curves, it brings us to some problems. The amount of sunlight that the graceful curves of the building reflect is a literal hazard that can potentially blind the drivers and heat up the neighboring buildings by up to 9 degrees Celsius. The reflection is bad enough to heat the pavements by 60 degrees Celsius. Seriously, a pretty looking design just does not justify that.

3. Walkie Talkie Centre, London

The Walkie Talkie Centre in London was considered an architectural achievement for its concave design and the office block design even won various awards. The awards came with significant health and safety concerns as people reported that it was focusing too much sunlight onto the streets. Some people said that the design was responsible for damaging parked cars and the sunlight glare from the curve is uncomfortable, to say the least. Some people were able to cook eggs in that heat, which is actually understandable.

2. Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Washington

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is probably the biggest architectural catastrophe ever. When the bridge opened up in 1940, it was the third-longest suspension bridge in the world. Sadly, the bridge lasted only four months before collapsing under the stress of 64 kilometers an hour winds on November 7, 1940. The major reason for the failure was the use of cheap girders for reducing the costs. The bridge swayed even during the construction and was thus nicknamed “Galloping Gertie.”

1. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most popular buildings in the world and that too for its major architectural flaw. The freestanding tower with the Cathedral of Pisa is a popular tourist attraction. During the construction of the tower, it began to tilt due to unsuitable foundations and grounds. The tilted continued to worsen as the tower neared completion and builders attempted to solve the problem. The tower appears to be curved rather than just tilted, and it goes on to sinking 1mm every year. In the 1990s, heavyweights were hung on one side of the Tower in an attempt to save it.

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8 Of The Biggest Architectural Disasters Of All Times

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