Quality architectural designs and construction are incredibly important because just one small mistake can result in casualty, embarrassment, or expensive lawsuits. There are many pieces of architecture that have served as inspiration and a testament to a man’s ingenuity, but even some of the most impressive buildings in the world, and those designed by prestigious architects have been found to have design flaws.
Although some flaws, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, have actually worked in the structure’s favor, and this bell tower, in particular, has become a popular tourist attraction with many visitors taking photographs in front of the building while doing cringy poses. Others are simply failures because of poor workmanship, inferior materials, bribes, and sometimes those in charge have failed to see an issue. When constructing high-rise buildings, careful attention should be placed to the windows because thermal expansion could result in them falling to the ground below, and glass buildings and the brightness and heat they give off should be taken into consideration before ruining the view of condos forever.
Below are 25 times that architects or construction companies clearly made mistakes, and although some were saved by clever architecture students, or the decision to replace pieces of the building, others resulted in collapses.
21 Hyatt Regency Hotel's Weakened Fourth Floor Resulted In A Walkway Collapse
Some architectural fails make the buildings more fascinating, others have resulted in expensive solutions to rectify the problem, but there are some that have unfortunately been tragic. The Hyatt Regency Hotel Walkway is one of these incidents, and in 1981, two walkways fell onto a tea ceremony taking place in the lobby of the hotel.
According to Complex, the fourth-floor walkway was unstable because during construction the load had been doubled, so when people gathered to watch the ceremony below, the walkway gave way and crashed onto the second-floor walkway. This resulted in both walkways crashing into the lobby, claiming many lives.
20 Walkie Talkie Center Has Won Awards For Being The Worst Building
The Walkie Talkie Center is an office building in London designed by Rafael Viñoly, but it has also been at the center of safety problems. This is due to the sunlight reflecting onto neighboring buildings and streets, and according to The Telegraph, there was an incident when the reflection of the sun on the building's windows burnt a car in a street nearby.
In 2015, the building won a title it would have preferred to avoid; it was named the winner of Building Design magazine’s Carbuncle Cup for the worst building of the year, The Guardian reports.
19 Pier One Playground Gets So Hot You Can Fry An Egg
When designing a children’s playground, special care regarding the elements should be taken into consideration, but it seems that Brooklyn’s Pier One Playground failed in this regard. The playground has made headlines for the heat of the equipment, specifically the steel domes, which according to ABC7, on warm sunny days are hot enough to fry eggs.
The park officials have had to post signs warning of the danger when these objects are heated, and trees will be planted around the domes to hopefully provide shade.
18 A Fractured Piece Of Steal Resulted In The Silver Bridge Coming Loose
The Silver Bridge is the name given to Ohio’s eyebar suspension bridge built in 1928, which was completed with metallic aluminum paint (thus giving it a silver appearance). The bridge was designed over the Ohio River, making Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Gallipolis more accessible, but in 1967, a fracture in a section of steel caused the pin holding it in place to become loose and resulted in the bridge collapsing while an estimated 75 cars and trucks were using it, Timeline reports.
17 Tacoma Narrows Bridge Was Nicknamed 'Galloping Gertie' For The Way It Swayed
Washington’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened in 1938 and at the time was the third longest suspension bridge in the world, History reports. But the suspension bridge was not in use for long; it closed just two years later because of an incident that happened during strong winds.
The winds causing the bridge to sway and resulted in concrete dropping from the road’s surface, and shortly after a 600-foot section of the bridge came loose and eventually resulted in its collapse.
According to History, engineers had not given the appropriate consideration to the
aerodynamic forces of the location. And Gizmodo notes that even before this collapse, the bridge had been referred to as Galloping Gertie because of the way it moved during high winds.
16 The Ray And Maria Stata Center Resulted In A Lawsuit Against A Famous Architect
The Ray and Maria Stata Center were designed for MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. But just three years after the building was initially opened, MIT sued Gehry for negligence.
Although the building was thought to be innovative, the university cited that there had been a number of problems with the design, which according to Boston, these included “leaks to spring, masonry to crack, mold to grow, and drainage to back up.” The lawsuit claimed it would cost more than $1.5 million to fix the various issues the building had.
15 Lotus Riverside Toppled Over Because Of An Excavation Error
In 2009, Shanghai’s residential complex, a 13-story apartment building known as Lotus Riverside, made headlines after it fell over. According to CNBC, the building which toppled missed an adjacent building, which was lucky, as it may have caused a domino effect and resulted in multiple buildings collapsing.
The reason the building fell over was due to the soil beneath it being removed in order to build an underground garage. The earth that had been removed was dumped next to a river, causing the river bank to collapse, sending water into the soil and turning the foundation of the building into the mud.
14 Bribed Officials Looked The Other Way On Rainbow Bridge's Construction
The Rainbow Bridge, over the Qijang River near Chongqing, collapsed one evening in 1999, as a result of poor construction and corruption. According to the Baltimore Sun, the 460-foot-long bridge of concrete and steel gave way and fell into the river below, along with several cars and people.
This was more of a construction failure than a design one, and it was revealed that steel supports that were much smaller than the ones required were used, as well as cheap and inferior materials. The World History Project also notes that officials had been given thousands of dollars worth of bribes to look the other way with regards to the problems.
13 The Citigroup Center Was Saved By A Clever Architecture Student
According to List25, the Citigroup Center, an office tower located in mid-Manhattan, could have had serious consequences if an architecture student had not noticed how it was unable to withstand strong winds. The issue was, as reported, fixed in secret and the building’s major design flaw was only admitted publicly years later.
Engineers Journal notes that respected engineer William LeMessurier received a phone call from a student in 1978, who claimed that the columns which supported the structure at the time, were positioned in the wrong place. After the call, LeMessurier did several calculations and discovered that his firm had not considered quartering winds.
12 Pittwater High School's Interesting Dome Didn't Last
Minutes before school started one day in 1986, Australia’s Pittwater High School had something unexpected happen; the dome covering the building collapsed, around 10 years after it was built, FlavorWire reports.
According to Complex, the dome known as a "Binishell" dome had been created by layering a balloon of plastic with concrete. It was an error early in construction that eventually led to the collapse; a concrete cap had to be built to rectify the issue but the cap only added extra weight to the dome, and lead to it falling apart years later.
11 Hangzhou Subway Tunnel Is Proof That Construction On Unstable Ground Is Questionable
The design and construction of structures are incredibly important because even one small mistake could result in the loss of lives. The collapse of the Hangzhou Subway Tunnel in China is one of those times that ended in tragedy, and according to Reuters, the cave-in happened in 2008 and trapped several workers.
The hole was apparently 15 meters deep and 75 meters long, but there was no immediate explanation offered for what caused the collapse, although an investigation was launched. According to Complex, the result was poor supports and moldings, as well as construction on unstable ground.
10 Ordos Kangbashi Is A Ghost Town Caused By A Rush To Urbanize
China has been rushing to urbanize, and this lead to the creation of Ordos Kangbashi located in China's Inner Mongolia, and according to South China Morning Post, this was “just one project in China’s rush to urbanize” with the publication noting that between 2011 and 2013, the county used three times the amount of cement of the United States has in the 20th century.
Unlike the other entries on this list which are clear architectural or construction failures, we bring you something different; the issue of rapid urbanization. The city has been called a ghost town by international media because it was devoid of people and businesses.
9 Kemper Arena's Roof Collapsed During A Storm
The Kemper Arena is an indoor stadium in Kansas, which first opened in 1974, but it is also yet another building with poor architectural planning, which resulted in collapse.
According to CNBC, the roof of the stadium, which was suspended from trusses on its exterior, had been designed so that rainwater was released slowly. The intention was to avoid a flood of water in the neighboring area, but this resulted in too much weight during a storm in 1979, which caused the roof to collapse under the pressure. Something which, according to New York Times, an engineer claimed was “inevitable” because of the material, installation, and design problems.
8 The Vdara Hotel and Spa Didn't Think About The Effect The Glass Would Have on Their Pool
When researching buildings with architectural flaws, the Vdara Hotel and Spa is a fine example of what not to do. It was built in 2009 with the intention of being an upscale hotel for visitors to Las Vegas, but it turned out to have one big design flaw; the curved design reflects the sun in the glass windows and focuses the rays on the pool area, causing so much heat that it has the ability to melt plastic and burn people’s skin.
According to Business Insider, the effect could basically be described as a magnifying glass, and temperatures in the pool area can increase by around 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
7 The Leaning Tower Of Pisa Is The Most Famous And Celebrated Architectural Flaw
Of all the buildings on this list, it is the Leaning Tower of Pisa that is the most well-known, and in this case, the flaw in its creation actually worked in the architects favor because the structure has become a popular tourist destination.
The construction of the bell tower, which has eight stories, first began in 1173, but it was not completely finished for the next 200 years because of a series of wars and debt, Leaning Tower Of Pisa reports. But the intention was never for it to lean, instead, the shifting soil on which it was constructed resulted in the tower’s foundations being weakened.
6 The John Hancock Tower Gave People Motion Sickness
The 60-story skyscraper in Boston known as the John Hancock Tower is hard to miss; Its clean, minimalist appearance initially won praise when it was first completed in 1976, but it was later revealed there is one major problem with this building; the windows. According to CNBC, the windows would fall out and crash onto the ground because of thermal stress that the architects had not planned for. All the windows had to be replaced.
According to SkySite, a second flaw is that when there is a strong wind, the building swayed so much that it caused those on the top floor to suffer from motion sickness. However, this problem has since been rectified.
5 W.E.B. Du Bois Library Isn’t Sinking, But It Does Have A Small Problem
The W.E.B. Du Bois Library is a library belonging to the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is a skyscraper with 28 stories, making it one of the tallest libraries in the world, and there have been claims that the building is sinking because of the weight of the books, but according to Flavor Wire, this is an urban legend.
But that’s not to say the building hasn’t experienced a problem, and just two months after it opened in 1974, the publication claims the brick overlay was not able to hold under compression, resulting in small chips breaking off. The issue has to be fixed, and every 10 to 20 years the bricks are checked and repaired if need be. However, this issue is pretty minor, and despite claims, no whole bricks have ever fallen off the building.
4 The Walt Disney Concert Hall's Glare Ruined The View Of Condos
Yet another building designed by celebrated architect Frank Gehry finds itself on this list, and although this creation did not have the same flaws the Ray and Maria Stata Center is said to have had, there was an issue with Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall. The structure was constructed with stainless steel, and according to Los Angeles Times, this resulted in quite the sparkle (read: ridiculous glare) when the sun hit the structure.
A number of condo owners, whose homes faced the building, complained of the light radiating off the concert hall during noon. They also complained not only of the brightness of the reflection but the increase in temperature.
3 CNA Plaza Building Was Made To Replace All Its Windows
Chicago's’ CNA Center is a 44-story building designed by Graham Anderson, Probst & White, and it made headlines after a window came loose on the 29th floor and fell to the pavement, Interesting Engineering reports. The cause was said to be thermal expansion.
According to the Corboy & Demetrio, the window resulted in a causality and a settlement of $18 million was reached for the family of the woman. The website notes that this prompted the decision to replace all of the windows in the CNA Plaza building.
2 Tiger Hill Pagoda Is China's Leaning Tower
The Chinese pagoda, known as Tiger Hill Pagoda, is similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa because it is also a leaning tower, We Urbanist reports. According to the publication, the 154 foot-tall pagoda leans by around three degrees and, similar to that of the bell tower in Pisa, the reason is that of the foundation.
In this instance, the foundation is half rock and half soil, so when the soil erodes, it causes a slight tilt. However, efforts to stabilize the pagoda have been made by filling the soil with concrete.
1 The Pemberton Mill Is One Of The Worst Industrial Monuments
In 1860 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, there was a calamity that struck the textile factory known as the Pemberton Mill. According to the New England Historical Society, the brick wall of the five-story building bulged and exploded, causing the factory to collapse and machinery to fall through the various floors.
One overseer of repairs found that the walls were weak and thin and made use of malformed cast-iron columns. But it is also believed that too many pieces of machinery had been crammed into the building. The publication claims that what happened at the mill was the worst industrial accident in Massachusetts history.