When proportion, balance, form and function come together in a delicate harmony, architecture is nothing short of an art form. But when, on occasion, those principles clash, the results can be eye-searingly awful. We asked 15 architects and our own staff to weigh-in on what buildings, given the chance, they'd take a wrecking ball to.
The centerpiece of Boston's Government Center, this Kallmann, McKnnell & Knowles-designed building has long been a source of controversy. Throughout the years there have been numerous proposals to both preserve or demolish the building, but plans on both sides have been throttled. Lewis Butler of San Francisco's Butler Armsden Architects says the issue with Boston City Hall is more than skin deep. "Many people would love to see the Boston City Hall altogether removed, but I think the problem is more what was taken away from that part of Boston to construct the building, rather than the structure itself," he says. "I would like to restore the original neighborhoods in the area around the City Hall and give the new building a relationship with its old neighbors."
The first Barbie Dream House was introduced in 1961 and according to architect Hope Alexander, the plastic pink palace has been corrupting young minds ever since. “For those of a certain age this 'building' did more aesthetic mind-twisting than any other structure in America,” says Alexander. “Bring in the miniature wrecking ball.”
Opening its door in 1982 to less than glowing reviews, the Portland Building designed by Michael Graves graced more than one of our architect’s demolition lists. Architect John Lum describes the building as such: “High kitsch, with meaningless gestures rendered in a cartoon-like manner. I agree with Pietro Belluschi who said, ‘It will put Portland on the map, architecturally, and it will never be repeated.’ And that’s a good thing.”
If the governor of New Jersey is calling it bad (and the building is in New Jersey), then you know something has got to be wrong. Enter Meadowlands Xanadu (now called American Dream Meadowlands), a yet-to-be-completed retail and entertainment center in northern New Jersey. Ground broke on the project back in 2004, but when the economy tanked, progress halted and prominent politicians and community members voiced concern over the hideous facade. Just last year New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said, “It’s by far the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America.” Ouch. Now, with new developers, a new name and some heavy incentives from the state, completion is slated for 2013. Can this eyesore be remedied before it's too late? Only time will tell.