According to CTBHU reports- “ A building is considered to be never completed when site work had started but was completely suspended either due to lack of resources or other reasons, and no further reports indicate that construction will resume”.

Architects are known for their illusions, visionary mind, creating fantastical buildings, and ambitious projects all across the globe. There are several examples of “architecture of the imagination”, speculative blueprints of offices, commercial centers, cathedrals, and skyscrapers that are left in mid-air and never get built for a range of reasons such as spiraling costs, unrealistic designs, lack of materials, recession hitting, lawsuits, and political unrest.  But some of these unfinished buildings with quirky histories, have their own unique stories behind why they were never finished.  

Here’s a list of 10 buildings from all over the world that never went beyond the design phase but have the potential to be among the most beautiful buildings in the world if had they ever been completed.

1. Hotel Attraction(1908)

Hotel Attraction was designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi in 1908 and was said to be the tallest building at that time with a total height of 360 meters. Two  American businessmen Edward T. Carlton and William Gibbs McAdoo admired Gaudi’s work and requested to design an elite hotel in Lower Manhattan. Gaudi proposed a 980 to 1,100 ft. structure that featured six floors of conference rooms, a theatre, restaurants, and multiple galleries with conical towers and a star-shaped sphere. 

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Sketches of Hotel Attraction_©

However, the building never commenced as it was considered unrealistic for that time and never saw the light of the day. One story suggests that Gaudi fell ill in 1909, so he canceled the project, another alternate story says that his communist values disagreed with investors’ desires to cater to the wealthy.

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Hotel Attraction_©www.popularmechanics.

2. Tatlin tower(1919)

Tatlin’s Tower was a utopian project proposed in 1919 by Russian architect Vladimir Tatlin to rise 1300 feet and serve as the headquarters and monument to the Third Communist International.  The tower would have outshined the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The tower was to be built from industrial materials of iron, glass, and steel after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and was envisioned as a symbol of progress and modernity.

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Tatlin Tower_©

Tatlin’s main form was designed as a sort of twin helix. The building’s framework would contain large suspended geometric structures with cubes at the base rotating at different rates of speed, and the entire structure completing a single rotation over one year. The reason the project was abolished was the engineering issues that were not resolved and the tower never got past the planning stage.

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Tatlin Tower_©

3. Palace of the Soviets(1933)

Soviet Russia produced some of the most ambitious and striking buildings ever made. At that time Moscow was the hub for modern architecture and the Palace of the Soviets was destined to be a modernist marvel. During Stalin’s rule, a design contest for the Palace was held in 1931 for an administrative building and congress hall that was to be built near the Kremlin. The winning design by Boris Iofan was a 415-meter neoclassical pyramid built of seven increasingly-narrow concentric cylinders like a massive tiered wedding cake,  with a 100-meter statue of Vladimir Lenin at the top scraping the sky and would have been higher than the spire of the Empire State building.

Unfortunately, history had other plans, and construction which began in 1937, was stopped in 1941, following the German invasion of Russia with the eruption of WWII.  In 1942 its steel frame was repurposed for use in the construction of fortifications and bridges. After World War II, the project was officially abandoned by the Soviet government in 1957 and the site was turned into the world’s largest open-air swimming pool. Today,  the site supports the world’s tallest Orthodox Christian church. 

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Palace of Soviets_©

4. Illinois Tower(1956)

Illinois spire was proposed as a mile-high skyscraper standing 1,609m tall in the center of Chicago designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The design included 528 stories and would have been the tallest building in the world twice as tall as Burj Khalifa in Dubai. 

The Illinois Tower was able to house 100, 000 people moving up mile-hile through an atomic-powered elevator at 60mph. The building had room for 20,000 cars and 180 helicopters. The building design was problematic for several reasons including the fact that the space needed to service the elevators would occupy all the space available on the lower floors, thus deflecting the purpose of the building height. If built Illinois would have changed the way of life for the people in Chicago.

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Illinois Tower_©

5. Manhattan Dome(1960)

The Manhattan Dome was one of the strangest and the most unconventional building designs ever conceived. It was the brainchild of Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao that proposed a glass dome running from 62nd street down to 22nd including all of the upper Manhattan skyscraper city. The purpose of the dome was to reduce air pollution and regulate weather conditions. The building was to be constructed by a fleet of helicopters, and the major flaw in the design was that cars or engines of any kind were to be banned to prevent discoloring of the glass, which designers said would be as invisible as wires of the screened porch. 

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Manhattan Dome_©

Dome over Manhattan, the outlandish design never left the drawing board and came close to being built. Fuller acknowledged that his design idea, whose time has not come yet, was “the world’s most successful failure”.

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Manhattan Dome_©

6. Ryugyong hotel(1987)

Ryugyong hotel In Pyongyang was meant to be the largest structure in  North Korea with construction began in  1987, until it was suspended in 1992, measuring 330metres tall the project was intended to complete by 1989, but political shafts, economic crisis thwarted this project. The mixed-use building was designed by North Korea-based architect Baik Doosan Architect. The building works again resumed in 2008 with the financial contribution from Egyptian investors that led to the completion of the building’s exterior. The opening of the hotel was announced in 2012 but again in 2013, the project plans were put on hold and the completion status of the building is still unknown. 

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Ryugyong Hotel_©

7. Fourth Grace(2002)

The fourth Grace was designed to be a Liverpool redevelopment project adjacent to the three existing historic buildings the Three Graces-  the Liver building, Cunard, and Port of Liverpool Building. The project was supposed to be the centerpiece of Liverpool. Architect Will Alsop submitted the winning design, a 10-story globe that he titled “The Cloud”.  The building was designed as a mix of commercial and office space incorporating a 107 -room hotel, a bar, restaurant, and a viewing gallery. 

However, the project was canceled in 2004 due to rising costs, design challenges, and planning problems that wrecked the project. 

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Fourth Grace_©
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Fourth Grace_©

8. Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid(2004)

The project was proposed in 2004 to be built in Tokyo Bay, more massive than the Great Pyramid At Giza. the structure would be the largest man-made structure on the earth to house 750,000 people. If built, the structure would be composed of 55 smaller pyramids with an open network of mega-trusses and supporting struts made from carbon nanotubes to sustain the earthquakes. But the project was shelved as the design relies on the future availability of the strong yet lightweight material. 


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Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid_©
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Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid_©

9. Nakheel Harbor(2008)

Nakheel Tower in Dubai was launched in 2008, and would have reached up to a height of 3300 ft. the building was intended to become the first skyscraper higher than 1 kilometer. The project was designed by Woods Bagot for Nakheel Group. The tower will be the centerpiece of the Nakheel Harbor Development, located near the Palm  Islands, Iba Battuta Mall, And Jumeriah Islands. The tower comprises four individual towers within one single structure. 

The Nakheel Group went bust in 2009, and the project was put on hold, 18 months later it was officially canceled.  The tower was designed as a 200- floor skyscraper reflecting Islamic Culture drawing inspiration from the 16-pointed star and house 40 other buildings including homes and offices for over 100,oo0 people. 

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Nakheel harbor_©

10. Zaha Hadid Tokyo Olympic Stadium(2013)

Zaha Hadid has created many outstanding buildings in her lifetime, but the Tokyo Olympic building is one of her designs that never saw the light. This curvy ultramodern building was designed for the 2020 Olympic games. The project was scrapped due to a delay in the construction of the building, because of the overrunning costs and criticism from the top architects and athletes who launched a petition for the project to be discarded due to its massive scale that would create a negative impact on the nearby surroundings.  

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Tokyo Olympic Stadium_©

However, citing spiraling costs as a key reason the project got shelved and was replaced with the modest design by architect Kengo Kuma that meet the requirements for the construction period and budget and was approved by the Japanese Government.

Tokyo Olympic Stadium_©


  1. Top 10 buildings that were never built,
  2. 10 Bizarre Buildings That Were Never Built,
  3. 10 Fascinating Buildings Never Built,
  4.  5 Amazing Building that were never Built,
  5. History’s Most Notorious Unfinished Buildings, Jack McManus,
  6. These 5 Wild Buildings Were Designed But Never Built, Aniqa Ajmal,

Jahanavi Arora is an Architect by profession with a passion for writing, design & decor. She believes that writing and architecture are quite similar as they both are forms of art and beyond every building, there is a story to tell which she loves to explore. In her spare time, she would be found in the corner of her room reading, playing around with her 3-year-old boy, or grooving on her favorite music.