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Top 10 Architectural and Construction Fails

Construction Global takes a look at some of the most questionable pieces of modern and historic architecture across the globe.

10 | Olympic Stadia, Greece

Dozens of stadia were built across Greece to host the 2004 Olympics. The only issue with this, though, is that it cost Athens approximately $11bn to host - more than twice as much as Greece’s budget. Most of these stadia remain empty and derelict to this day thanks to these issues and are left isolated behind padlocked fences.

9 | Pier one Playground, Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York

A playground in an ideal spot within New York City. Sounds good, right? The idea and location for the play equipment were perfect - but what wasn’t so perfect were the materials used. Steel was the material of choice for the equipment which proved incredibly dangerous due to the heat from the sun on those hot summer days. In one incident, a young girl received second-degree burns whilst playing on the climbing domes. The family received a $17,500 settlement which was paid by the park’s designer and the park’s operator. This wasn’t an isolated issue, either.

8 | Ray and Maria Stata Center, MIT

The 67,000 metre-squared building, which opened in 2004, was designed by award-winning architect Frank Gehry. Upon completion, the building was considered unique and innovative thanks to its angular design that was said to challenge the laws of physics. Three years later, MIT, who is housed in the building, filed a lawsuit for negligence against the designer following countless design flaws and structural problems including cracking walls, hanging icicles in the winter months and problems with mould.

7 | CNA Center, Chicago

Designed by Graham Anderson, the CNA centre is one of the taller buildings on our list. The building was painted red and although the structure is famous for its lighting displays which are viewable across the city of Chicago, in 1999 a large piece of window came loose from floor 29, causing a fatality. This resulted in an $18mn settlement and a full refurbishment of the windows throughout the building.

6 | The Lotus Riverside Complex, Shanghai

This one is a bit more catastrophic than many of the others. As a result of rushed, bad quality construction techniques and operations, the apartment block collapsed. This disaster caused one fatality and cost families and investors hundreds of thousands of dollars as half of the units were sold before the project was completed. Later, six officials were found guilty of “causing serious accidents”.

5 | Secret Intelligence Service Building, London

Although this important building is certainly structurally sound, it seems to lack one of the main purposes of the companies, MI5 and MI6, that are working within it. Secrecy. That’s right, thanks to the building's unique looks, it really does make it an obvious target.

4 | Aon Center, Chicago

You’d think Chicago’s third tallest building would use the best materials. The entire external facade was clad using marble. The only issue with this form of marble is that it’s much thinner than other cladding materials. In 1974, one slab detached from the building as the unsuitable marble had issues with cracking. It cost $80mn to reclad the building in granite.

3 | Kemper Arena, Kansas

This was an indoor stadium with a notable trussed roof. Just three years after opening, a heavy storm resulted in the roof collapsing. Luckily, no one was injured as the structure was vacant. The collapse was a result of a poorly designed and constructed roof that collected rainwater, causing it to sag and therefore weaken.

2 | Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Washington

This is one of the more catastrophic on the list. Opening in 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. It didn’t even last a year on from its build date when 64 kilometres per hour winds battered it, causing it to collapse. This was a result of the use of cheap girders. Even during construction, the bridge used to sway side to side and it even got nicknamed the ‘Galloping Gertie’.

1 | The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa

You could call The Leaning Tower of Pisa an architectural fail, but whether you like it or not it has become a worldwide landmark. The tower started to tilt during the construction process, and although the builders attempted to fix the issue, it still sinks around 1mm a year. In the 1990s, heavyweights were added to one side of the structure in order to help save it. How much longer will it last?

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10 | Olympic Stadia, Greece

Dozens of stadia were built across Greece to host the 2004 Olympics. The only issue with this, though, is that it cost Athens approximately $11bn to host - more than twice as much as Greece’s budget. Most of these stadia remain empty and derelict to this day thanks to these issues and are left isolated behind padlocked fences.

9 | Pier one Playground, Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York

A playground in an ideal spot within New York City. Sounds good, right? The idea and location for the play equipment were perfect - but what wasn’t so perfect were the materials used. Steel was the material of choice for the equipment which proved incredibly dangerous due to the heat from the sun on those hot summer days. In one incident, a young girl received second-degree burns whilst playing on the climbing domes. The family received a $17,500 settlement which was paid by the park’s designer and the park’s operator. This wasn’t an isolated issue, either.

8 | Ray and Maria Stata Center, MIT

The 67,000 metre-squared building, which opened in 2004, was designed by award-winning architect Frank Gehry. Upon completion, the building was considered unique and innovative thanks to its angular design that was said to challenge the laws of physics. Three years later, MIT, who is housed in the building, filed a lawsuit for negligence against the designer following countless design flaws and structural problems including cracking walls, hanging icicles in the winter months and problems with mould.

7 | CNA Center, Chicago

Designed by Graham Anderson, the CNA centre is one of the taller buildings on our list. The building was painted red and although the structure is famous for its lighting displays which are viewable across the city of Chicago, in 1999 a large piece of window came loose from floor 29, causing a fatality. This resulted in an $18mn settlement and a full refurbishment of the windows throughout the building.

6 | The Lotus Riverside Complex, Shanghai

This one is a bit more catastrophic than many of the others. As a result of rushed, bad quality construction techniques and operations, the apartment block collapsed. This disaster caused one fatality and cost families and investors hundreds of thousands of dollars as half of the units were sold before the project was completed. Later, six officials were found guilty of “causing serious accidents”.

5 | Secret Intelligence Service Building, London

Although this important building is certainly structurally sound, it seems to lack one of the main purposes of the companies, MI5 and MI6, that are working within it. Secrecy. That’s right, thanks to the building's unique looks, it really does make it an obvious target.

4 | Aon Center, Chicago

You’d think Chicago’s third tallest building would use the best materials. The entire external facade was clad using marble. The only issue with this form of marble is that it’s much thinner than other cladding materials. In 1974, one slab detached from the building as the unsuitable marble had issues with cracking. It cost $80mn to reclad the building in granite.

3 | Kemper Arena, Kansas

This was an indoor stadium with a notable trussed roof. Just three years after opening, a heavy storm resulted in the roof collapsing. Luckily, no one was injured as the structure was vacant. The collapse was a result of a poorly designed and constructed roof that collected rainwater, causing it to sag and therefore weaken.

2 | Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Washington

This is one of the more catastrophic on the list. Opening in 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. It didn’t even last a year on from its build date when 64 kilometres per hour winds battered it, causing it to collapse. This was a result of the use of cheap girders. Even during construction, the bridge used to sway side to side and it even got nicknamed the ‘Galloping Gertie’.

1 | The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa

You could call The Leaning Tower of Pisa an architectural fail, but whether you like it or not it has become a worldwide landmark. The tower started to tilt during the construction process, and although the builders attempted to fix the issue, it still sinks around 1mm a year. In the 1990s, heavyweights were added to one side of the structure in order to help save it. How much longer will it last?

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