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Thread: The worst designed building you've experienced!

  1. #1
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    The worst designed building you've experienced!

    Inspired by Cardinal:

    Describe and, if possible, link pictures of the most poorly designed building(s) you have ever experienced. This includes the exterior aesthetics, building's relation to context, and interior functionality.

    Mine:

    The Media Union on Universtiy of Michigan's North Campus.

    This is one of those buildings with no primary entrance or at least the designed "front" is hardly the functional "front". And the interior is one of the most disorienting places in which I have ever been. The interior passageways radiate symetrically from the center of the building, but there is no obvious detailing to direct you to your desired exist.

    Plus, there was too much wasted space in the interior, because of the unecessary use of atriums throughout the building.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  2. #2
    Basically what you are saying is the buildilng had a lot of investment, and from the looks of that photo - some nice craftsmanship, good durable materials, and sound building construction techniques. I.e. Built to last. But from the functionality point of view - the design should have been ripped up by some really intelligent designer, and made to work better for the amount of investment put into the building. Yeah, that would be amount the number one criticism of Architecture around. Loads of money spent, and poor return on investment.

    Take something like a factory for instance. Sometimes doubling the size of the factory will not double the profits of the company. But how many Architects are going to be honest enough and admit that to their client. Read a book by Seeley about Economics and buildings - which about giving a client value for money. Rather than just the cheapest building. There is a difference you know.

    It makes the Argument, that Architects are already at construction design stages by the time, any real consideration is actually given to the economic viability of the project in the first place. But by that stage the boat has already moved off, the client and the Architect are far too committed time wise and money wise to actually question the whole fundamentals of doing the project at all. Architects need to do full analysis of return on investment. Instead of trying to force clients into a corner, and to get them to build, so the Architect can then grab 10% of the value of the project in fees etc.

    This I think would be a more fitting subject for debate. Try and list as many experiences as people here at Cyburbia have - of projects where they know an Architect designed and built something, that really wasn't needed, and had no value to the client, or return on his/her/their investment. This gives the profession of Architecture a very bad name indeed, and should be documented.

    Brian O' Hanlon.

    P.S. Look at large companies funded by Governments in particular:

    A Tax Payer's view on all of this

    And informed poster replies

    My own best stab in defense of NASA

    You don't have to look at just buildings designed by Architects. What about infra-structural projects such as motorways built in the boom-times and so forth.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I would have to say the Llyod of London building.



    Its whole concept is flawed IMHO

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Community College of RI, Knight Campus



    I can't find a picture of the whole building. The exterior looks like a giant cement battleship. To make matters worse its on a hill and is clearly visible from I-95 and other locations. Students have to walk up a steep hill to get to the building and cars have to drive down a steep hill in the winter which ends in a highway-like street. The parking lots go on forever with no landscaping.

    The interior is a depressing dungeon which is just as cold and concrete and the exterior. I've never gone to the school but whenever I've been in the buliding I wonder around lost until I come out the wrong door. I feel bad for the students who aspire to go back to school only to be stuck in this thing for years.

    I've been meaning to take a picture and submit it for Kunstler's architectural blunder of the month.

  5. #5
    Check out some of the later stuff by Le Corbusier like in Chandigarh. That really did influence some Architects in a really, really bad way indeed. A lot of whom might have only seen images in books, and tried to copy the terrible primitive agressiveness of those buildings by a master.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by garethace
    Check out some of the later stuff by Le Corbusier like in Chandigarh. That really did influence some Architects in a really, really bad way indeed. A lot of whom might have only seen images in books, and tried to copy the terrible primitive agressiveness of those buildings by a master.
    You've hit on something here. Most of Le Corbusier's buildings are not appealing to my taste, yet I recognize that many are none-the-less, good architecture. It takes a very talented architect to pull off designs like that. Of course, there are too many architects without the talent who are willing to give it a try.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Ironically, the School of Architecture here, isn't very nice.. besides being a glass padded barn that completely destroys the scale with the rest of the buildings (houses) of the University.

    Plus it is quite egocentrical, it's on the river's edge looking towards Valdivia in a "look at me" statement...

    I'll see if I can take pics one of these days... :-P

  8. #8
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    The Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe Kansas! I'll post more later.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Originally posted by Cardinal
    You've hit on something here. Most of Le Corbusier's buildings are not appealing to my taste, yet I recognize that many are none-the-less, good architecture. It takes a very talented architect to pull off designs like that. Of course, there are too many architects without the talent who are willing to give it a try.
    Like this? WTF? My God its like an IKEA factory exploded.



    Or this? Blech.



    Honestly, the majority of his work doesn't bother me, I'm ambivalent about it...

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Re: The worst designed building you've experienced!

    Originally posted by mendelman
    Plus, there was too much wasted space in the interior, because of the unecessary use of atriums throughout the building.
    I happened to like the atriums - gave a nice welcoming feel, and provided a great view outdoors. A great place to people watch while hanging out or studying.

  11. #11
    An Architect who did gain confidence from the austere concrete buildings of Le Corbusier, was an American Architect named Louis Kahn. See his buildings like the Salk Institute, which manage to use concrete in a way, that the buildings do look like medieval Architecture for the 20c.

    Kahn was able to reference to old medieval towers, and Roman construction - while still building buildings, which were modern. Post Modernism, was a reaction to the compression of the stratification of time, in functionalist Architecture. The stratification of time, in the buildings which made up many environments was becoming narrower, and narrower.

    So Post Modernism tried to reference back to older buildings and styles, in the effort to redress this loss of the stratification of time in the built environment. I believe, Louis Kahn knew how to do this. Up until then, it was all just glass sky scrapers reflecting each other.

    Mind you modern glass Architecture can look very well juxtaposed with something old - the stratification of time, is emphasised. Louis Kahn wanted his buidings to appear like they were there since ancient times. I think Paul Rudolph was another Architect in the States who promoted heavy concrete style at the time, but didn't quite have the same poetic ability of Kahn.

    Another good Kahn building - the Kimbell Art Gallery in Texas.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    The Rennassaince Center (or whateverit is called now). I went to a conference there once and was lost and disoriented the entire time.

    It was also next to impossible to access from the street.

    It is supposed to be better now.





    On a positive note, it looked really nice during the Freedom Festival Fireworks displays.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  13. #13
    Cyburbian El Feo's avatar
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    Ironically, or not so ironically, I guess, the HUD Headquarters building in DC. Typically I like Marcel Breuer, but this is very Logan's Run.

    A close second is (I've mentioned this one before) Boston City Hall.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    the HUD Headquarters building in DC, Boston City Hall.

    Eyes.Googles.Nothing!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian statler's avatar
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    The are quite a few people that will passionately defend Boston City Hall. The claim that it is a 'Perfect example of Brutalist architecture!'
    To which I can only respond, "Yeah, but it's a perfect example of Brutalist architecture!"
    "So, if a city has a personality, maybe it also has a soul. Maybe it dreams." -Gaiman
    ArchBoston

  16. #16
    Moving at my own pace....... Planderella's avatar
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    Originally posted by statler
    The are quite a few people that will passionately defend Boston City Hall. The claim that it is a 'Perfect example of Brutalist architecture!'
    To which I can only respond, "Yeah, but it's a perfect example of Brutalist architecture!"
    Yes, this building is very BRUTAL!!!

    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  17. #17
    Cyburbian statler's avatar
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    Originally posted by Planderella
    Yes, this building is very BRUTAL!!!

    Yeah, I really don't get the love for the Brutalist stuff. Anyone who has studied architecture what to explain what makes this style so great?

  18. #18
    Moving at my own pace....... Planderella's avatar
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    Just about all of the older buildings on the University of New Orleans campus are horrible. It's no surprise that their website doesn't feature any pictures of them. Very smart move.....don't want to scare off prospective students.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Boston City Hall is like a big F-You to the people of Boston. It seems like its set so far up Congress St. just out of arrogance and spite. How do disabled people get up all those steps? Compare Boston City Hall to other good big city examples like Philly. I'm not even talking about the whole plaza either.

    Has anyone been inside? Is it brutal?

  20. #20

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    Knoxville, Tennessee has a very charmless, brutalist government center right on the Tennessee River. It looms quite oppressively but at least did not dominate the downtown core proper (its a little bit out of the way). Interior office spaces were standard-not really a problem. The Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters 1/2 mile away DID dominate the traditional downtown core. I always thought that their cold, filing cabinet look was perfect for a quite large, cumbersome bureaucracy.

    Surprisingly, the Fairfield Civic Center, which was largely built in the early 1970s, is much better than most architecture of the era. No Victorian froufrou, but the brick cladding, pleasant proportions, and "nice modernist" building forms have held up very well. We get many compliments about our City Hall-especially the view of the mountains to the west (and our artifical lake)

  21. #21
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    I couldn't google up any picts but anyone whose seen it will know what I'm talking about... The old St. Francis-Xavier Hospital (now part of the MUSC campus) in Charleston, SC. It's a gray concrete 13 or 14 story high-rise, done in an almost brutalist style, in the middle of the historic district. It seems very cold and out of place for the surrounding area. Although, in the long run it may be no worse than those new faux-historic pieces of shyte they keep building down there.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian pandersen's avatar
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    Originally posted by donk
    The Rennassaince Center (or whateverit is called now). I went to a conference there once and was lost and disoriented the entire time.

    It was also next to impossible to access from the street.

    It is supposed to be better now.





    On a positive note, it looked really nice during the Freedom Festival Fireworks displays.

    Ding! ding ding! - we have a winner.

    Yes, it has beenb renovated since GM took it over and abandoned their former world HQ, but it's still an eyesore!

    I'f I recall correctly, the move "Robocop" was filmed on the grounds of the Ren Centre. Truly a horrible place!

  23. #23
    Cyburbian El Feo's avatar
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    Originally posted by Seabishop
    Has anyone been inside? Is it brutal?
    Seabishop, I've been inside. All I can say is...it felt like I might end up leaving as Soylent Green. One of the coldest, most unwelcoming buildings I have ever entered.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
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    Design is a mutlti-layered concept, and proving aesthetics is impossible, as it is governed by social norms and customs, practical and perceived needs. It exists framed in the moment of creation, and then natural entropy kicks in and time is the judge of its success or failure.

    The Greeks had a good run at trying to “prove” beauty, did not get them far, so they gave up and invented geometry.

    Ugly building can be quite functional, likewise some universal icons of accepted aesthetic excellence are poorly designed.

    In the end it all boils down to personal taste, high end architectural theory means little to most architects, much less the man on the street. A fraction of a handful create the controversial buildings that influence the next tier architects that eventually works its way down to the vernacular.

    What makes a lot of the movements that today people find “ugly” is not an intrinsic product of the movement its self, put a poor “understanding” of the language of that movement by architect and client.

    That is brutalism in and of its self was not inheritably bad or ugly architecture, but rather poor execution of it is where the problems occur (especially in the post war reconstruction of the UK)

    Take the Barbican for example, decried for its bombastic presence at completion, the complex has aged well, and looks actually nice today as compared to its completion
    (See note above on entropy) Though it still fails in some common sense design norms, that is today’s common sense, the place was designed in the 50’s different times. Even these failings are not beyond redemption though,… well not in the hands of the right architect.
    She has been a bad girl, she is like a chemical, though you try and stop it she is like a narcotic.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Dan-
    Have you read this article:
    Building a legacy
    Area architects pick the best & worst among Western New York buildings
    http://buffalo.bizjournals.com/buffa...31/focus1.html

    What are your thoughts?
    Does anybody have photos?
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

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