Standard Oil Building (now Aon Center), Chicago, IL
Covering your entire building in Italian Carrara marble sounds like a really good idea, until you realize that this particularly expensive type of marble is much thinner than materials normally used on the exteriors of buildings. The people behind this Chicago skyscraper didn’t find that out until it was too late, and in 1974, one of the slabs detached from the building and crashed into the roof of the Prudential Center next door. The marble would eventually be replaced with granite at the cost of $180 million.
Ray and Maria Stata Center, Cambridge, MA
Just because you’re MIT, and just because you get Frank Gehry to design your 720,000-square-foot academic complex, doesn’t mean everything will turn out just right. MIT filed a negligence suit against Gehry three years after the center opened, claiming design flaws in the $300 million building had caused major structural problems.
Lotus Riverside, Shanghai, China
When you build a complex of 11 buildings by the side of a river, bad things can happen. One example would be the time a 13-storey building in the newly finished Shanghai complex collapsed, and came dangerously close to starting a domino effect that would have knocked down all the surrounding buildings as well.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA
Oh look: another beautiful and insane-looking building Frank Gehry building. This one makes the cut because the “excessive glare” caused by this thing basically transforms it into one huge magnifying glass when the sun hits it the right way.
Vdara Hotel & Spa, Las Vegas, NV
Picture this: You’re just relaxing by the pool, trying to sweat out a night of slots and free drinks, and then all of a sudden the rays deflecting off the hotel you’re staying in start to singe your hair. Yeah, that actually happened.
W.E.B. Du Bois Library, Amherst, MA
If you believe everything you hear, then the tallest library in the United States is cursed. First there was the time, two months after its opening in 1974, when the building started to shed bricks from its facade for reasons that remain unknown to this day, and then there’s the legend that the building is sinking.
Pittwater High School, Sydney, Australia
Built using a technique created by architect Dante Bini that involved laying concrete over a balloon of plastic to create a domed structure called a “Binishell,” this Sydney high school caved in on August 4, 1986, about a decade after it was built.
The Cowboy Stadium scoreboard, Arlington, TX
We know everything is bigger in the Lone Star State, but let’s admit it: the Guinness Book of World Records’ World’s Largest High-Definition Video Display is a really horrible idea.
ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture and observation tower, London, England
We don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but who gave Anish Kapoor and Cecil Bamlmond the green light to build this monstrosity for the 2012 London Olympics? Why would you want something that ugly representing your country when the whole world is watching?
Verizon Building, New York, NY
Another building that isn’t exactly a failure of engineering, the Verizon Building is more just a perfect example of a company deciding that there is nothing wrong with building a massive structure that makes people looking at the iconic New York City skyline sing, “One of these things is not like the other…” Every major city has one of these, but very few has aggravated residents quite like this eyesore.