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The worst designed building you've experienced!

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
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14,141
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58
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.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
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.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
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34
I would have to say the Llyod of London building.



Its whole concept is flawed IMHO
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
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.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
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.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
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34
garethace said:
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.
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
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26
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
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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10,623
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34
Cardinal said:
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...
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,223
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29
mendelman said:
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.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
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.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
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.
 

statler

Cyburbian
Messages
447
Points
14
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!"
 
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5,352
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31
statler said:
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!!!

48bostoncityhall.jpg
 

statler

Cyburbian
Messages
447
Points
14
Planderella said:
Yes, this building is very BRUTAL!!!

48bostoncityhall.jpg

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?
 
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5,352
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31
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.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
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? :-c
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
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)
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
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.
 

pandersen

Cyburbian
Messages
243
Points
9
donk said:
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!
 

Howard Roark

Cyburbian
Messages
276
Points
10
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.
 
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13
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1
whoah.. i've seen so much crappy designed buildings that i can't remember every single one of them..


i dunno what the hell they were thinking about that concrete block



that's just an example, i've seen many others
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
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.

Sorry, but as someone who is not a member of the compounds (Tom Wolfe's hilarious take on modern architecture), I don't like Kahn all that much either.

Check out http://citycomfortsblog.typepad.com/ there is a good discussion and photos of the "masterpiece" at the Salk Institute. I guess it does have a cold, Borgian austerity that some might find appealing, but ...
 

tim

Member
Messages
7
Points
0
The PCL library at the University Of Texas at Austin is terrible. It is difficult to navigate, there are few comfortable places to study, and it is ugly as sin. It smells, too.
I dreaded going there to get books.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
Messages
2,713
Points
24
All of the pics above look like the have come directly for Le Corbusier nightmare. What was suposed to be a tower to oversee common area turns into a free fire zone of indefensible territory around the tower.

I believe modern architecture larger than human scale takes on a monster appearance because of the economic necessity of creating a grand sized building on the cheap.

In addition to the economic factors, the spaces are laid out as unusable space. It sets of a cascade of effects. Its unusable or unfriendly nature creates a seldom occupied space except for maybe transit through the space. Lack of use leads to further deterioration in defensibility and utility. Repeat ad naseum.

Not just the building needs to be made functional, but also the surrounding spaces. If this occurs, the building will fit into the fabric in spite of any sense of misgiving about it belonging or physical standard of esthetics.
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
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4,853
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26
I'll continue my rant about the glass palace of the Architecture school here...

Easy access for disabled people? what for? heating? nah.. you see this glass palace will work like a greenhouse... except that we made a huge ventilation shaft on the roof so it's actually an iceberg! Classrooms in three floors only need one staircase right? there's absolutely no chance that in case of an earthquake the only staircase may be obstructed or break apart. Furthermore, the secretary's office is in the second floor, and there is only ONE staircase to go to the first floor without jumping and posibly breaking an ankle against the hard concrete floor. I could go on and on... but in short, the architects that designed the building (the institute and school directors, along with the teachers), were not from Valdivia... (which is true...) The old school was housed on an old german colonial house, for the first years of the schools existance, and architecturally speaking, it is way better than the glass palace popsicle. :p
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
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4,898
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27
This is the city hall in Troy, NY, built in the late 1960s or early 1970s, I believe.



Ironically, Troy is known for its beautiful architecture. Too bad the city hall does not reflect this.

The original city hall, shown in the picture below, burned down.



From the same era as Troy's current city hall: Co-Op City, a "city within a city" in Bronx, NY:



Based on recent news artlcles, the place is falling apart. Parking garages have been closed, and the buildings are sinking into the former marshland and landfill on which it sits.

Parking garage:
 
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