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5 Buildings by World Famous Architects That Have Experienced Serious Failures

Nobody is perfect, and some of the world’s most renowned architects are here to prove it. They have created architectural masterpieces that sent every viewer in awe, but then with time the beauty faded, or in other words, failed. It would seem that some architects tend to mess up on some basic yet serious flaws, on their way to creating unprecedented icons. While they believe they are achieving the closest thing to perfection, there comes the problem from the corner they would least expect. Sometimes the problem might even be one’s initiated by structural defects rather than architectural, but no one cares about the details. The building remains entitled to its designing architect, regardless if it is good and bad. Now, here are examples of marvelous architecture designed by the world’s leading architect, but turned out to be not entirely marvelous.

1.Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry

© Gehry Partners, LLP

Before Gehry was commissioned to design the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, he had designed the iconic Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain. Its lustrous titanium foldings were so attractive, that he proposed something similar for the Disney Concert Hall and it was accepted with much enthusiasm. However, sometime after the landmark was constructed, a problem that was not faced with Bilbao’s museum has surfaced. The curved metallic cladding the enveloped the concert were way too reflective. The concave surfaces received the burning sun rays and reflected them to the neighboring houses, causing glare and a significant rise in temperature. The adjacent streets, also, suffered from the glare which has raised risks for traffic accidents. After the problem was discovered, Gehry and his team had no option but to analyze the façade, spot the problematic panels, and sandblast them to prevent unwanted reflection. That operation cost about $180,000.

2.Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright

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That charming house that you have heard so much praise about as a student of architecture and thought how it looked like something out of a fairy tale, well, it was not ‘magical’, and here is proof. While a house hovering above waterfalls sounds so dreamy, but the modernist pioneer seemed to neglect how humidity can be destructive. The owner of the house Edgar Kauffmann faced a serious mildew problem not long after the troublesome construction process was completed. The remarkable cantilever that extends above the waterfall started deforming before the construction was over, and 50 years later there was a plain obvious 7” deflection. Also, two large cracks showed up on the parapet of the terrace as soon as the construction framework was removed. Now the house which is kept as a museum is being restored and conserved by the Pennsylvania Conservancy. Metal trusses were added to support its failing cantilever. Regardless all its faults, the Fallingwater remains a celebrated masterpiece of modern architecture.

3.Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofia by Santiago Calatrava

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The world’s highest Opera House in Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences, is 74-meter-high, with fourteen floors above the ground and three below the ground, housing four auditoriums. Its complicated form that seems to be leaping towards one direction and the flying curve above reveal Calatrava’s distinct style. However, there has always been the argument that this very distinctive style tends to be disastrous at times, and this specific building, unfortunate, supports the argument. The building’s first misfortune was when the performance stage of the main hall collapsed. That was followed later by water flooding the interior and ruining the electric equipment, and last but not least, the mosaics covering the roof started to fall out. After each and every one of these problems, the building had to be closed for safety issues, and the last problem had the authorities, finally, to file a lawsuit against the Spanish starchitect.

4.Westside Bruennen by Daniel Libeskind

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The Westside shopping and entertainment center is an urban-scale project along a major highway, leading to the city of Bern. The project was designed by Libeskind to be a landmark and a celebrated gateway to the city. Its architecture is quite remarkable, indeed, just like all the Libeskind designs that seem to be soaring into the sky with the most peculiar angles. You would wonder at his genius, but deep down you would worry that the incredible building might just fall on your head and this sort of happened in Westside Bruennen. The gypsum board ceiling has collapsed twice, once above a fast food outlet and the other time above an indoor swimming pool, and unfortunately, that second time has resulted in three injuries.

5.Guangzhou Opera Center by Zaha Hadid

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We might need to relieve the late architect from the mistake here before we begin. Her masterpiece in the Chinese city of Guangzhou has dazzled all the viewers with ultra-modern grandeur, the intriguing geometry, and the starry-sky-like ceiling of the Opera house’s main auditorium. You have probably wished upon witnessing this delightful masterpiece to attend a concert there, but you might actually change your mind now. One year after the opening, the building has been facing a serious case of falling glass. That is in addition to the surfacing of numerous cracks in the walls and ceilings. The problem here is probably the inappropriate choice of materials by the contractors rather than the architect’s fault. This might be a just predictable consequence of what might be called ‘mass production’ in China; something that has extended to the field of construction and architecture, as well.

These are just a few examples of many other failures which prove that all those grand names that seem far from reach are after all humans. They are grounded by what ground you, and they definitely make mistakes. However, learning from these mistakes is how they come to rise.

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