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Ten unloved buildings.

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Ten Ugly Buildings

by Kyle Chang


Have you ever looked at a building and wondered what the architect was thinking when he designed it? This book is about ten buildings all over the world that few find appealing, many of which you may have never heard of. They range from significantly large baskets to elephants, cigars to giant coins. Whatever you think, this book tells you more about the buildings. Some of the pictures you can scroll through, you will see a bar on the right.

The Elephant Building

The Elephant Building or Chang Building opened in 1997 in the Chatuchak district of Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. The building was designed by thai senator, engineer, and real-estate mogul, Arun Chaiseri designed the building. It is an urban complex that includes a shopping mall, business offices, and luxury condominiums.

It is 560 feet long and 130 feet wide with 32 floors. The ears are actually multiple stories of balconies, and the eyes are windows. In addition, the tail is made up of smoked glass enclosed rooms, and the tusks hold the building management.

When the building was finished, it replaced Atlantic City’s Lucy the elephant as the world's largest elephant structure. The building was part of a slew of buildings that were uniquely shaped in Asia. While not realistic like Lucy was, it is widely accepted that is an elephant building. The consensus is so strong that wikipedia removed the claim that Lucy was the tallest elephant building from the website. This created an awkward situation for the owners of Lucy who continued to advertise the building as the world's largest elephant.

Ryugyong Hotel

The 330 meter tall hotel is located in pyongyang, North Korea. Construction began in 1987 and was supposed to be finished in 1989. It would have been the the world’s tallest hotel and 7th tallest building in the world. It was designed to have 3,000 rooms, revolving restaurants, casinos, nightclubs, and japanese lounges.

Construction was delayed by material and construction problems in 1989. Then in 1992, due to famine, electricity problems, and funding problems construction stopped. In 2006 the building reached its full structural height, but the building was still not finished. The government tried to find investors to build a new building, but about 300 million would be needed.

Then, in 2008, the Orascom group started work on the hotel. They refurbished the building, starting with the top floors. In late 2008 the focus of construction was on cladding. In 2012, work finished on the hundredth anniversary of North Korea’s ex-leader Kim Il Sung. Orascom said that the purpose of the work was to make the building look better. Currently, the building is still uninhabitable.,_Pyongyang,_North_Korea.jpg

Longaberger Home Office

The headquarters of the Longaberger Basket Company is located in Newark Ohio. The building is a replica of Longaberger Medium Market Basket. The building is 192 feet long by 126 feet wide at the bottom. At the roofline it extends to 208 feet long by 142 feet wide. Also, the building is seven stories high and has a central 30,00 ft. atrium and courtyard that allows employees to enjoy daylight in an outdoor style setting with the built in skylight.

The founder of the Longaberger Basket Company was Dave Longaberger. He was a business visionary who used the demand for handmade baskets. He also dreamed of the idea of running his company in a giant basket. When the plan was announced, many employees didn’t take the plan seriously. The old house sized basket headquarters might have already pushed the limits of basket building.

The Longaberger Home Office isn’t the only giant basket in Ohio. The old HQ still stands, a house sized picnic basket located in Dresden on Main St. and 5th. The world’s largest apple basket is at the Longaberger Homestead and is over 29 feet tall. The Big Easter Basket is in Lorain, Ohio is not made by the Longaberger company, it is 9 feet high and 10 feet wide and is filled with Giant eggs between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

Torre Velasca

Torre Velasca stands out as one of the few modern buildings in Milan, Italy. It is mixed in with the Gothic Cathedrals, buildings, sculptures, and domes. The building was planned to loom over surrounding buildings with a height of 347.77 feet. The building was an important addition to the skyline of Milan. Because of this, the architects, BPPR, had to blend the design with the classic architecture of historic Milam.

The top third of the building protrudes outwards. The design was supposed to resemble medieval watchtowers. These types of towers were used during war to defend Italian castles during invasion. Using the ideas of ancient architecture on the Torre Velasca, BPPR was able the tie the building to its historic past. This kept the building from feeling out of place.

While many buildings were constructed near the street, Torre Velasca was built in the center. This encouraged the use of plaza space. The narrow bottom also helped with the creation of the space and contained shops, offices and exhibitions. The upper part with more space contained apartments. The construction of office buildings were known to weaken city centers but the combination of office and residential use allowed Torre Velasca to overcome this.

Harold Washington Library

After the great Chicago Fire of October 8, 1871, A.H. Burgess of London proposed an “English Book Donation” which got the support of Thomas Hughes. Thomas Hughes was a Member of Parliament, the author of Tom Brown's School Days, and was a visitor of Chicago in 1870. The impending donation of over 8,000 books caused leading Citizens of Chicago to petition for a public meeting to establish a free public library. The meeting led to the Illinois Library Act of 1872 allowing cities to make tax supported libraries inside Illinois.

During the 75 years of library expansion it became clear that the Chicago public library outgrew its central library on Michigan Avenue. Then Mayor Harold Washington and Chicago’s civic leaders planned for the construction of a new library on 400 S. State Street. On July 29, 1987, the city council and Mayor Harold Washington authorized a design contest and a bond issue to finance the project.

Architects and builders were teamed up to design the building in the price of 144 million. Five design teams submitted their designs to the widely publicized competition. Then the finalists were put on display at the cultural center. Today models of the runner-ups in a southeast corner of the eighth floor of the library. Within the first few days over 5,000 cards were filled out. Eventually the eleven person jury decided on the entry submitted by the architectural firm of Hammond, Beeby & Babka Inc. The Library Board also decided the the Library would be named after Harold Washington.


Antilla is the house of billionaire Mukesh Ambani. Ambani is a global conglomerate and richest man in India. Mukesh Ambani is the head of Reliance Industries, an India based petrochemical giant. The company was founded by Dhirubhai Ambani, father of Mukesh Ambani. Also the company is India’s most valuable firm by market capitalization.

Antilla is the most expensive home in the world at $2 billion. When Nita Ambani, wife of Mukesh Ambani was in the spa at the Mandarin Oriental New York the design struck her and caused her to inquire about the designer. The consulted with architecture firms, Perkins and Will and Hirsch Bedner Associates, the designers of the Mandarin Oriental New York. Then plans were drawn for the world's most expensive house.

The closest high-rise on the market is the $70 million triplex penthouse at the Pierre Hotel in New York. Antilla is 550 feet high and has 400,00 square feet of interior space. Also the building is 27 floors high. The higher cost is because of custom measurements and fittings, a hotel would have similar materials and layout per room. The difference is that Antilla has no two floors alike in materials or design.

Fang Yuan Building

The Fang Yuan Building was designed by C.Y. Lee who was also the creator of Taipei 101. In his design the building was supposed to resemble an old chinese coin with a square cut-out. The shape represents that business will be smooth and money will be rolling in. In Addition on a more profound level it represents the hope of harmony between people.

The building is located at Shenyang Financial Trade zone in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, located 200km from the North Korean border. It is a 25-floor office building, and the floor area is about 48,000 m2. The building is used by over 20 international companies. While the top of the building is coin shaped, the bottom has many common features of a modern office building.

Although the intention is fine behind the building, the methodology used to fuse the east and the west was disappointing. Lee is always stressing the importance of the shape because he believes that the intrinsic spirit should be expressed clearly and directly through building form. The building uses the most convenient way to combine old Chinese entities with modern materials. In addition, the plate glass windows and concrete base are depressingly run-of-the-mill. If the ideas were applied in a more abstract way, the building might have been better.

Gherkin Building

The construction was commissioned by Swiss Re, a reinsurance building. It was designed by the architectural firm, Foster and Partners. The 41-story building was built using a modern glass and steel design. It was originally known as the Swiss Re building. When Swiss Re sold the building in 2007 it was renamed to its address, 30 St. Mary Axe. Londoners dubbed the building the Gherkin before it was even built for its shape.

The tower was built in the center of the financial center in London. It was built where the Baltic Exchange used to be when in 1992 a terrorist attack damaged the building. In a relatively low-rise area the construction of the Gherkin, a high tech caused debate about the need for tall buildings in London.

The Gherkin is a cigar shaped building. The building has a steel frame, circular floorplans, and a glass facade with diamond panels. The swirling stripe pattern on the exterior is part of an energy saving system where air can swirl through the wells. On street level, huge X shaped white braces are the entrance, but the building is not open to visitors.

The Portland Building

The 15 story building is one of the most hated in America. Michael Graves designed the building in a design contest, sponsored by the city of Portland for a 40,000 foot lot in 1979 and won, despite being inexperienced. The reason for winning is partly because of an ally in the jury who discarded other designs for the expensive glass they used.

Some  critisize it for the lack of dignity in its medallions and ribbons for an government building. Others criticize it for the amount of symbolism and references to the past. Many of the traditional building features lack function and are for aesthetics.

For example, the arcades in three of the facades which normally provide sheltered space between the pedestrian and the city have only two entrances above street level. The fourth facade has two small doors that lead into a windowless restaurant and a back lobby. Inside, the lobbies are described as narrow and unpleasant and the offices are dark and claustrophobic.

Trump Tower

Trump Tower is home to Donald Trump and the corporate offices of The Trump Organization. The building was completed in 1984. The 68 story mixed-use structure was built on the “Tiffany Location” of New York. It was called the “Tiffany location because it was next door to the famous Tiffany and company jewelry store. The location of the Tiffany store, Fifth avenue between 56th and 57th street. The intersection is considered the most prestigious intersection in New York City.

In 1979 Mt. Trump purchased the existing eleven story building from Gensco. He had the goal of constructing the first super-high luxury rise property in New York. The famed architect, Ber Scutt was chosen. There is an angular design covered by a glass wall. A five story atrium was created for retail space. There is also a 60 foot waterfall on the eastern wall that is spanned by a walkway.

The tower features high-end retail shops, office space, and residential condominiums. On the opening day, the retail shops quickly became the most exclusive shops in New York. In 2004 the Trump Tower gained even more notoriety from the television series “The Apprentice” including the boardroom, team suites and other parts.



     Has reading this book changed what you thought about them at first glance. If so, think about why it changed your mind. Think about what you thought when you first saw the pictures.

    Can you think of any other buildings you think are ugly? What did you think about the buildings in this book? Did you like some of the?


About The Author

My name is Kyle Chang. I am a sixth grader that goes to school in New York. I chose ugly buildings as my topic because I did. I like math and science.



Have you ever seen an ugly building? Then you might find the buildings in this book ugly too. Some of them you might like. Others you might feel neutral about. And the rest you find ugly. The buildings in this book are ugly to only some people but you might agree.