Build me up, tear me down / Like a skyscraper
May 4, 2018 9:19 PM   Subscribe

 
By my count, only 13 are actually ugly. And a couple of those are only ugly in the carefully-cropped image provided and not really ugly in relation to the whole skyline.
posted by tclark at 9:32 PM on May 4 [11 favorites]


Oh, it’s a terrible list. Not to mention the inclusion of non-skyscrapers like the Robarts Library.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:43 PM on May 4 [7 favorites]


For the most part this article doesn't say what it doesn't like about the buildings only that they're ugly. And a lot of them I don't agree.

Also a lot of them I don't agree are even skyscrapers.
posted by aubilenon at 9:44 PM on May 4 [12 favorites]


Few of these are skyscrapers?
posted by mr_roboto at 9:44 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]


I liked most of these? The photos didn't help convince me they were ugly.
posted by Carillon at 9:51 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]


A couple were... pretty.
posted by greermahoney at 9:52 PM on May 4


This is a pretty terrible list. I’d think it was par-for-the-course bad on some clickbait site but it’s especially depressing to see this on AD. They should probably stick to covering bland celebrity homes. This isn’t even a hard list to put together- there are a half dozen halfassed tall buildings in pretty much any city- but they somehow managed to jack it up by including both well designed skyscrapers (Lloyd’s) and buildings that are demonstrably not towers.
posted by q*ben at 10:04 PM on May 4 [7 favorites]


Their "Berlin Fernsehturm" picture doesn't even show the right building. The article is not only intellectually lazy but also shoddily put together.
posted by patrick54 at 10:19 PM on May 4 [15 favorites]


But we clicked, did we.
posted by Laotic at 10:21 PM on May 4 [6 favorites]


buildings that are demonstrably not towers.

And at least a couple of the non-towers are lovely. I’ve never looked carefully at the Robarts Library before, but even if I didn’t have a soft spot for brutalism I would think that it is gorgeous.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:28 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]


Their "Berlin Fernsehturm" picture doesn't even show the right building.

Oh shit you’re right. What the hell is the tower in that picture? It’s bewildering how they could have even made this mistake. They got the name right and there is google image search.

I would also object to the use of a rendering to illustrate the Aldar building were it not for the fact that the buiding is just as hideous in actual photographs.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:41 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


And at least a couple of the non-towers are lovely. I’ve never looked carefully at the Robarts Library before, but even if I didn’t have a soft spot for brutalism I would think that it is gorgeous.

And inside the Robarts Library is the amazing Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. An inside view here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:55 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]


Missing the most hideous building I've ever seen, the towering JRPG sword fever dream of the Grand Lisboa Casino in Macau. Impossible to look away from and completely horrifying.
posted by Rinku at 11:09 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]


I think there should be more buildings based on animals.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:12 PM on May 4 [11 favorites]


They criticize NYC's Verizon Building (375 Pearl), but the building got a makeover a couple of years back. It's still not pretty but not such a concrete eyesore.
posted by borborygmi at 11:38 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


So many of these are lovely! Imagine working in the big fish, or the basket. I get that a couple are boring rectangular prisms and Trump Tower is an eyesore but perhaps an explanation of why they think the cool basket building is ugly would have been in order? I imagine some might be impractical for use but that wasn't explained either.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:50 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]


The reason to despise the Strata SE1 is that the turbines at the top are never switched on (Most articles say “rarely”; I don’t live far away and I’ve never seen them on). It could have been a cheery, optimistic step towards more renewable energy and functional high-density living; instead it stands as yet another empty gesture towards environmentalism of the sort that will get us all killed in the end, cast literally in concrete.
posted by doop at 12:02 AM on May 5 [4 favorites]


Man, that author is a cranky one. Sure, some were ugly, but the majority were also interesting, which to me is a far more useful criteria. Lots of things don't appeal to my own sense of æsthetics, but I'll forgive rather a lot if the building is at least interesting. You then know they tried at a minimum.

I notice there's no mention the good that came out of the Tour Montparnasse's construction. Because it's wildly out of place it is the reason buildings like it have since been banned in the city center. If it were surrounded by other modern architecture, you wouldn't look twice at it.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:33 AM on May 5 [9 favorites]


To me it looks like a list of unpopular buildings, rather than ugly buildings. While some of them are ugly, and some are silly, there's no method to this madness. The fish is great!
posted by mumimor at 1:32 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


The Lloyd's building is great.
posted by kersplunk at 2:09 AM on May 5 [7 favorites]


Agh that’s not the iconic Berlin Fernsehturm, how could they get it so wrong?

They did get it right with the photo of Milan’s Torre Velasca, but agh, the caption: Perhaps one of the reasons Milan is considered by many to be Italy's "Ugly City" is the Torre Velasca building. It’s the tower itself that has a reputation for ugliness, rather than the whole city itself... that’s a bit harsh, what with its many "architectural wonders that even the most casual visitor can appreciate", as pointed out by the same magazine in another article, tsk. (And some of the most amazing wonders are old-style apartment buildings with striking balconies and entryways).
posted by bitteschoen at 2:12 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


*checks list; breathes sigh of relief*
posted by skyscraper at 2:57 AM on May 5 [45 favorites]


Full marks for using Bad Religion lyrics in the post title.
posted by ZipRibbons at 3:18 AM on May 5 [5 favorites]


I kind of love that Elephant Building.
posted by thivaia at 3:46 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


For today's class project, I will use Wikipedia to define skyscraper:
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat defines skyscrapers as those buildings which reach or exceed 150 m (490 ft) in height. Others in the United States and Europe also draw the lower limit of a skyscraper at 150 m (490 ft).

The Emporis Standards Committee defines... a skyscraper as "a multi-story building whose architectural height is at least 100 m or 330 ft."
With the different height minimums, how many of these buildings don't fit any definition of skyscraper?

(BTW the Emporis Standards Committee defines a high-rise building as "a multi-story structure between 35–100 meters tall, or a building of unknown height from 12–39 floors" so even if they're not all skyscrapers, are they all at least high-rises?)
posted by tzikeh at 3:56 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I'm just here to give props for the Bad Religion-lyric themed post title. Carry on.
posted by abulafa at 3:56 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Is it possible for a building with gold coloured glass to ever look decent? In hot regions the inconsistent fading of the glass also acts to make them look prematurely aged, but not in a good way.
posted by kerplunk at 4:05 AM on May 5


The author of this piece clearly prefers decorated sheds to ducks.
posted by panama joe at 4:12 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


The fish appears to be six stories tall at most, so they're not even all high rises, no.

Some of these are really quite beautiful. Even the cursed Ryugyong Hotel looks pretty cool in the photo they chose. The ones that I agree are ugly are usually ones where there's no clear aesthetic theme (like the Radio and Television building) or ones that are just a huge block of weatherstained concrete (like the Verizon building, which as noted doesn't actually look like that anymore). Most of the rest are at least inoffensive, and some are downright gorgeous.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:18 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


The Oregon Convention Centre wins this list. It's not that ugly, it's not a skyscraper, and its photo has ugly skyscrapers visible in the background.
posted by sfenders at 4:19 AM on May 5 [4 favorites]


I think the problem with lists like this is that there are so many hideous chunk-of-dirty-concrete towers out there that they're utterly unremarkable and therefore it's hard to pick real standouts. Finding buildings that are unusually ugly is tougher, since the merely banally ugly ones are so much uglier.

This particular list isn't even trying though. Everything about it feels like a homework assignment that was slapped together the night before the deadline by a student who is taking the class as a mandatory gen-ed requirement and doesn't want to be doing it in the first place.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:24 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


Wait, Architectural Digest actually had articles about architecture? I thought it was all sterile photospreads of celebrity throw pillow arrangements.
posted by octothorpe at 4:47 AM on May 5 [4 favorites]


Aw come on! A picnic basket! That’s awesome. The rest of them I haven’t seen but the Robarts Library is amazing in person. And that big peacock hotel in Macau! A fish! The cubist elephant! What!

The sin of not being dull, and having an opinion that doesn’t agree with the status quo. Bah!
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:48 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


That Abu Dhabi building is neat. It should've appeared in the Star Trek movie. You know, the one with the whales.
posted by mono blanco at 4:54 AM on May 5


Brutalism aficionados might appreciate the #sosbrutalism project.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:47 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


That is one of the laziest and least informed clickbait lists I have ever seen. Even one kind of consistency would have been ok -- all tall buildings, or all ugly buildings, or something like that. Instead, it was just a weird mix with no common theme and strikingly uninformed writing.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:56 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


The anemic text underneath each picture says to me that the author doesn't even hate these buildings very much.
posted by clawsoon at 5:57 AM on May 5 [6 favorites]


This article by the same author is almost as lazy, but at least the pictures of the abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park that will be re-opening for 6 days this summer look pretty amazing.
posted by clawsoon at 6:01 AM on May 5


Having an office in the fish building would make even the worst job worth getting out of bed for.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:01 AM on May 5


For reference : ducks vs. decorated sheds
posted by panama joe at 6:09 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


What a persnickety load of codswallop.

Many items on the list are not skyscrapers. Many are aesthetically interesting or challenging more than outright “ugly” — which would suggest one or more fundamental design fails...that the listicle author doesn’t bother to elucidate.

Also, a critique of aesthetically questionable skyscrapers that doesn’t include the CN Tower in Toronto? Not comprehensive.
posted by Construction Concern at 6:34 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Just in case you didn't zoom in on the Žižkov Television Tower: the article neglected to mention that there are giant metal babies crawling up it. It's...odd.

I too support buildings that are shaped like ducks and baskets.
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:36 AM on May 5 [6 favorites]


This article by the same author is almost as lazy, but at least the pictures of the abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park that will be re-opening for 6 days this summer look pretty amazing.

Someone needs to put on a trail race that runs through that park without telling any of the runners ahead of time.
posted by lagomorphius at 6:52 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


I love the elephant and fish buildings.
posted by sarcasticah at 6:56 AM on May 5


The only good thing about this article is that the list was all on one page. Literally every other thing about it was terrible.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:56 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


Another failure was not mentioning the Walkie Talkie in London, a building so casually, lazily horrible that makes me actually furious every time I see it, or think about it, and - bonus! - so poorly designed that it acts as a parabolic mirror that melts nearby cars. Everyone involved in its construction should be cooked by its solar death ray and then have its stupid bulbous top-heavy form pushed over on top of them.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:09 AM on May 5 [7 favorites]


This list, as (Mefi's Own) Adam Savage puts it, is not even wrong. I guarantee I could come up with a better list of ugly skyscrapers that are all actually ugly and all actually skyscrapers.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:05 AM on May 5


I have examined
the takes
that were in
the listicle

And which
you threw together
for
views and clicks

Forgive me
They were very bad takes
so hot
and so bad
posted by dis_integration at 9:01 AM on May 5 [8 favorites]


And number one on my list of 30 of the most snitty dickish fauxbrow media outlet anachronisms is..........
posted by Pembquist at 9:21 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


so hot
and so bad


Not even hot. Lukewarm at best.
posted by clawsoon at 9:58 AM on May 5


The author should really do better research. The Oriental Pearl in Shanghai hasn't been the 2nd tallest in a couple of years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_buildings_in_Shanghai
posted by victotronics at 9:59 AM on May 5


So, it's come to this, then. Even Architecture Daily has fired all of their expensive writers and started using unpaid interns.

Because that list was butts.
posted by loquacious at 10:04 AM on May 5 [6 favorites]


I like this coin shaped building in Shenyang. It's odd and looks like kinda cheap construction but if you can build a standing circle building, why not do it?
posted by postcommunism at 10:28 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


China’s also quite fond of buildings shaped like regular objects, especially ceramics. This ranges from the mostly tasteful (Liling Ceramic Museum) to the hmm, ok (Wanda Cultural Tourism City Exhibition Centre in Wuxi, plus scroll down for bonus pic of the Museum of Tea Culture in Meitan) to the oh my god what were they thinking (Wanda Plaza Nanchang)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:09 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


The building in Abu Dhabi is amazing. I fear it will fall victim to rising sea levels, though.
posted by lhauser at 11:15 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Article section template: "Here is {thing}. It is bad. It was built in {year} and designed by {agency}."
posted by rhizome at 12:08 PM on May 5


That photo of the Robarts library in the article is the only one that — if one were high enough¹ — could perhaps depict it as the peacock it is supposed to be. Every other view you'll ever see it in shows it up as the concrete turkey it is.

——
¹: 8–12 bucket bong hits of Doug Ford's Old Etobicoke Special Reserve should do it.
posted by scruss at 12:10 PM on May 5


screw this list, Robarts is great. I just drove past it today and, especially from ground level, it's really interesting. It feels like it's growing up from the earth, like some sort of cool angular fungus full of books
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:38 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


screw this list, Robarts is great. I just drove past it today and, especially from ground level, it's really interesting. It feels like it's growing up from the earth, like some sort of cool angular fungus full of books

And! At this time of year, the cherry trees out front of Robarts are blooming, which is a nice contrast to the style of architecture.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:30 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


The author has written almost 700 articles ("articles") for Architectual Digest.
posted by clawsoon at 3:42 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Another failure was not mentioning the Walkie Talkie in London

Yeah, it's hideous, all right; but I kinda like that Wanda Plaza Nanchang.
posted by Rash at 3:52 PM on May 5


The Seven Worst Skyscrapers in the World
(Correct list)
(Counted down in tension-building reverse numeric order: Who will be number one?)

7. Hair Tower (Toronto, Canada)

In 1970, every architect in the world agreed that Hair Tower would be the greatest building ever built. Who could disagree? A 60-story building made entirely of human hair. Hair tower utilized never-before-seen, state-of-the-art construction techniques (plywood forms filled with a hair slurry that was allowed to cure before spritzing). The building's many investors were sold on architect Herman Hertzberger's memorable tagline: "As strong as the human hair."

This gorgeous building, whose design also called for a wig-sided exterior, truly pushed the envelope of what was possible in green building technology. Or so we thought. Unfortunately, the unrestrained use of 1970s hair spray opened up an ozone hole directly above Toronto. The resultant UV radiation focused on Hair Tower reduced the structural integrity of its finishing spritz. The building collapsed under its own weight, but because all components gently wafted back to earth, no one was injured.

Today, Hair Tower is best remembered for being hoisted by its own petard. With the advent of CFC-free spritzes, is it possible that hair-based buildings could make a comeback? Futurists say yes, possibly as self-driving buildings with benevolent AIs; naysayers say, "No, you idiots, the design is still vulnerable to shampoo and water."


6. Starchitect City (Warsaw, Poland)

When Daniel Libeskind decided to build a new home, not even his biggest fans were prepared for what he created: A 500-foot tall dazzling star. The designer's personal living quarters were located at the apex, with guest quarters at every other corner. In the middle of the star are two sunken living rooms, one of which is a ball pit. (The other doubles as a game room.) The giant star is 10 feet wide, blinks at night, and is widely regarded as an eyesore on the Warsaw skyline. It has 750 square feet of living space. All rooms are connected by clear plastic tubes sized to accommodate humans.


5. Taste the Excitement Tower (New York, USA)

When RC Cola decided to upgrade its corporate headquarters, it spared no expense — except for windows. Designed and built between 1978 and 1984, this 40-story building has a drab, all-concrete exterior. "It was the best we could do," said Gerald Fizz, then-CEO of RC Cola, who steadfastly insisted until his death in 1990 that he always enjoyed his top-floor corner office with no view.


4. The Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

Look at this big, dumb, ugly tower, reminiscent of your favorite band, which by the way is terrible. Can you possibly resist sharing this list on Facebook with a snide remark about how wrong the list-maker is?


3. Wax Baby Hall of Fame (Gatlinburg, USA)

This great big building started off with great big good intentions. "Once I saw a photo of a fish-shaped building that housed a fisheries commission," said Henry Higgins, the (adult) president of the Baby Historical Society, a 501(c)3 dedicated to celebrating and preserving the historical contributions of the world's greatest babies. "I thought that would be so fun to work in! Every day I would show up excited about sustainable fisheries development. So, I was thinking, could we do something like that, but for famous babies? Our project is a wax baby hall of fame."

Santiago Calatrava stared blankly at Mr. Higgins. At first he said nothing. Then he said, "I think we can do that."

Calatrava's greatest weakness as an architect has always been that he is a people-pleaser. He just can't say no. His second greatest weakness has always been that he likes to design giant buildings shaped like things that are not buildings. (See, for example, his early work on the Doritos Pyramid.) But even he knew this was a bad idea. So he would have to get creative.

"We will model it after the most famous baby in the world," said Calatrava. "The baby Jesus."

Mr. Higgins and his team all nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, yes, the famous baby Jesus. Santiago, I want you to take this idea and run with it."

Unfortunately, Calatrava did exactly that. He drew his inspiration from 12-Century European artistic renditions of the Christ-child. You may be familiar with these drawings: Everything looks weird and flat and baby Jesus is drawn with the proportions and appearance of a 24-inch-tall late-middle-age man. When scaled up, the tiny old-man baby design looked like a regular giant old man. But because it also looked weird and flat, Jesus's eyes followed you wherever you went.

The Wax Baby Hall of Fame was never successful, and the building was remodeled in 2004. Today it bears little resemblance to Jesus.


2. Your Favorite Building (Anywhere, Earth)

Hate-click, hate-read, and hate-share: Soon the cycle will be complete.


1. Guy Fieri's House

Also known as "The House that Donkey Sauce Built," this polarizing eight-story tower is a monument to the only truly authentic American celebrity persona. The building is widely reviled because it forces you to confront this fact. "Look deeper, is there anything there?" the building seems to ask, before answering its own question. "What you see is not only what you get, indeed it is all you will get."

With features such as a clock with a Camaro on it ("Time to ride"), an aromatherapy room that smells like funnel cake, and a cold-Sriracha tank for post-meditation full-body immersion, Guy Fieri's House is also the only building on this list to also top our separate list of greatest buildings in the world.
posted by compartment at 4:00 PM on May 5 [14 favorites]


I don’t think any of these are beautiful, but many of them are interesting to look at. I’ve actually been to Bratislava, and the inverted pyramid isn’t beautiful, but it sure draws the eye. I think the author of the listicle is a traditionalist who only likes certain kinds of architecture. There are thousands of truly boring rectangles that could have made this list, these aren’t so bad.
posted by wintermind at 5:18 PM on May 5


The Wax Baby Hall of Fame was never successful, and the building was remodeled in 2004. Today it bears little resemblance to Jesus.
You are a master of the form, compartment
posted by q*ben at 5:20 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I can't believe that the Walkie Talkie building isn't a joke. The architect is apparently responsible for a building in Las Vegas that also focuses sunbeams into a death ray. I can only surmise that he's done so to guard against the appearance of Martian tripod war machines.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:43 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Was expecting... something worse. Liked more than a few of these buildings and structures, especially the elevator.
posted by smallerdemon at 7:57 PM on May 5


And! At this time of year, the cherry trees out front of Robarts are blooming, which is a nice contrast to the style of architecture.

Ivy would work, if you had enough of it.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:59 PM on May 5


As I'm sure you also couldn't help noticing, the Nabemba Tower is only 30 storeys high, and 106m (346ft, I think), so I corrected that back into Wikipedia.

I think that's the only thing that was wrong in this list, as opposed to not even wrong. Although I think the wind turbine cutout tower in London is worse than the Walkie-Talkie.
posted by ambrosen at 4:14 AM on May 6


The author has written almost 700 articles ("articles") for Architectual Digest.

Publish or perish quantity, publish or perish quality.
posted by clawsoon at 4:56 AM on May 6


Nice bad religion reference in the title :)
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:55 AM on May 6


Quantity has a quality all its own. -Wayne Gretzky
posted by Meatbomb at 8:40 AM on May 6


Impossible to look away from and completely horrifying.

I LOVE IT, it looks like a dramatic gown worn by a female disney supervillain during her expositional solo number.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:49 AM on May 6


I'll concede that the Aldar headquarters building might look ugly up close, but when you see it on the horizon as a giant mysterious circle and no clue what it is, it's amazing.
posted by pinothefrog at 9:54 AM on May 6


compartment: 5. Taste the Excitement Tower (New York, USA)

When RC Cola decided to upgrade its corporate headquarters, it spared no expense — except for windows. Designed and built between 1978 and 1984, this 40-story building has a drab, all-concrete exterior. "It was the best we could do," said Gerald Fizz, then-CEO of RC Cola, who steadfastly insisted until his death in 1990 that he always enjoyed his top-floor corner office with no view.


*wipes tear*

From seeds lurking in the steaming turd of a listicle that comprised the FPP has sprouted a most beautiful flower.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:31 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


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