The 5 Worst Buildings on Earth

Frank Lloyd Wright style sign

An Example of Always Good--our Frank Lloyd Wright Craftsman Plaque

At Atlas Signs and Plaques we make our living off of good design. To many the word “Good” is a subjective term (as is “bad) so it is hard sometimes to brand things as always good or always bad. However, I have encountered some things that are always bad, examples are: Cat-woman, Europe (band), my laundry, the Ford Pinto, Lady Gaga, etc. My point is that some things are bad to the bone (and not in the “good” John Wayne way). Here is a list of irredeemably bad design: The 5 worst buildings on earth.


The city of Kangbashi

The Thriving Wasteland of Kangbashi

5) Kangbashi. The city that never was. If you were to travel to Ordos China you would probably feel uncomfortable by the utter mass of people living there. The city crams a dense population of 1.5 million into 46 square miles. To put that in perspective my city, Madison WI, has a population of 500k, 67 square miles, and still suffers from rush hour traffic. City officials of Ordos recognized their overpopulation and in 2003 built “Kangbashi” – a district capable of housing 300,000 citizens comfortably. However, due to high costs of living and a long commute time (30 minutes), “Kangbashi” only sports a population of 30,000. In the words of citizen Li Li: “It’s pretty lonely here”.


Osaka Incineration

What The? I Don't Even...

4) Osaka Waste Treatment. People could stand to learn a couple principles of utilitarian design. The basics are: practicality and fundamentalism. Do either of those words occur to you when you see the Osaka Waste Treatment facility? If you said yes then find mommy and have her put you to bed, because this building belongs nowhere outside of a child’s imagination. Fail.


Millennium Dome

The Millennium Dome in all its...Glory?

3) The Millennium Dome. This fail was not so much of a design fail as a marketing disaster. Remember way back at the turn of the millennium when everybody was all up in riot-gear over Y2K? Investors in England expected people to want to celebrate the millennium year-round so they constructed this building and made glittering embodiments of human life like: learning, work, rest, and play. Only problem: nobody cares. Everyone can see those things occurring in their own life EVERY DAY. The Millennium dome is now named the O2 and is a somewhat popular music venue.


Experience Music Building


2) The Experience Music Building. This abomination was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and was funded by Microsoft chairman Paul Allen. The building reportedly cost 100 million USD. To find inspiration for the EMB, Gehry reportedly studied the body of the Stratocaster and other guitars. Lets take a closer look at that statement. Stratocaster: curvy, sexy, brilliant. EMB: disastrous, cesspool, blob. I’m not seeing the connection, Gehry.


Ryugyong Hotel

Looks More Like a Roller-Coaster than a Hotel

1) Ryugyong Hotel. Tip: if something goes under the pseudonym “Hotel of Doom,” it is one of two things. Either it was Alfred Hitchcock’s preferred vacation spot, or it just really, really, sucks. The Ryugyong hotel began construction in 1987 and was supposed to be complete in time for the world festival of youth + students (off to an inspired start). The building missed that deadline and was halted in 1992 because of building costs (750 million, 2% of N. Korea’s GDP) and overall hideousness. Until recently the Korean government refused to acknowledge it; omitting it from all government issued photos and maps. In 2008 it was bought by an Egyptian investor who hopes to convert it into a 3G wireless tower. So as you can see, the “Hotel of Doom” will soon be “The Doom Network”. Can’t wait.



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