The Worst Designed Buildings In America

Traditionally, office blocks and commercial buildings have been rectangular, concrete-based and relatively uninspiring. However over the years there have been numerous attempts to blend a more aesthetically pleasing design with business needs: the Petronas Towers and the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, are iconic and instantly recognizable.

However not all designs are as pleasing, indeed some have been near-disasters, either visually or in their construction. This article takes a look at a handful of the worst designed (or at least worst received) commercial properties in America.

Metlife Building

1. MetLife Building, New York

One of the Big Apple’s least photogenic structures, the MetLife Building is built next to Grand Central station and has regularly been voted one of the first buildings many New Yorkers would have knocked down.

Bland and functional, and at one time was one of the world’s largest commercial spaces.

Citicorp center building

2. Citicorp Center

Completed in 1977, the Citicorp Center in New York featured a revolutionary design, placing a skyscraper on stilts in the center of the structure, rather than load supporting columns at its corners.

However, in an incredible story covered on a recent episode of the 99% Invisible podcast, following completion, a student calculated that the initial design was so unstable that a major storm could have blown over the 59 floor structure, causing catastrophic destruction across Midtown Manhattan.

The Portland Building

3. Portland Building, Portland

Standing in Oregon’s main city, the Portland Building is a real clash of architectural styles, blending columns, a decidedly odd mix of colors and styling elements that appear to have come from very different influences.

Although this is said to be one of America’s ugliest buildings, I must confess to having a soft spot for it, not least because it looks like it was designed with crayons.

Denver Public Library

4. Denver Public Library, Denver

Two words: Lego Hogwarts.

Longaberger Building

5. Longaberger Home Office, Newark

From the ugly to the bizarre – the head office of Longaberger (a handcrafted basket designer) is a building that looks like … a handcrafted basket. A quick Google image search will show you just how odd this building is, and it’s quite hard to believe it exists outside of a theme park.

Again, this is another entry on this list that, while I can see why it’s “horrible”, I actually quite like it. It’s innovative, ballsy, it perfectly captures the company ethos and above all, it’s fun!

Boston City Hall

6. Boston City Hall, Boston

A true concrete horror. Resembling a diseased harmonica, Boston City Hall has few redeeming features or points of interests: local opinion has been divided on whether to rip the structure down or preserve it.

J Edgar Hoover Building

7. J Edgar Hoover Building, Washington DC

Brutalist architecture is an acquired taste, sure, but it’s heavy, authoritative, fort-like seriousness should be perfect for a law enforcement organization. However, the FBI’s Washington’s home looks like a giant waffle.

ATT Building Houston

8. ATT building, Houston

An incredible building, if only because you wonder how it ever got the go ahead. Communications giant ATT’s central office is a literally a 100ft block of grey concrete, with virtually no external windows.

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