Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is This one of world's fourteen ugliest buildings?

Yes, you've got it right. The October Travel & Leisure features the illustrious Bunny Wong's list of The World's Ugliest Buildings, and, somehow, Hammond Beeby's Harold L. Washington Library comes in at Number 4.

What, does she have some lingering childhood fear of gigantic, flaming owls?
Readers will know I'm not the biggest fan of the giant brickpile on State Street, but come on. Then again, Ms. Wong starts out by describing her Number One, Michael Grave's Portland Building as "one of the most hated buildings in America." Most Hated. Most Ugly. Most Easy to Get Pictures Of. Same. Same. Same. Right?

With a couple of exceptions, the buildings on Wong's list are less ugly than loopy, often quite pleasantly so, as in the case of No. Six, the Longaberger Home Office building in Newark, Ohio.
(My God, all those people milling around the parking lot, they look just like ants.)

Seriously, how could anyone call any of the structures on Wong's list the world's ugliest once they've experienced something like this:What do you think is the ugliest building, if not in the world, then at least in Chicago? And why?

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a joke. Im not a fan of post-modernism, but in this case it was actually done pretty well.

I would probably nominate one of those god awful precast Lucien LaGrange river north monstrosities. 10 E Deleware in particular is mind-blowingly bad. Its an insult to the intelligence of every single person who has to look at it.

Pete said...

The library's roof is indeed hideous, but the rest of it is fine. (Which is one of the building's problems - the roof doesn't fit with the rest.) My vote for ugliest in Chicago is the Thompson Center.

Whetstone said...

I think the badly-organized inside of the HWLC deserves scorn, but I like the exterior.

Ugliest building: Streeterville. (I kid.) (No, actually, I don't.)

Anonymous said...

The Harold Washington Library is a terrific building (no sarcasm) and it will be more appreciated with each decade. It's only flaw is the lack of a great interior space on the first floor.

People from all over the world take pictures of the Harold Washington Library. I have seen many tourists stop to take photos. They seem to like the building. Are they simpletons? I don't think so. They see something interesting in this building. So do I.

Anonymous said...

I knew someone was going to say Thompson Center. Is it bad that I secretly kind of like it?

patrick said...

No... the library is clearly not one of the ugliest buildings in the world... it is however hideous... its bulky and dark... the fake bronze roof is hideous and it has to be one of the most terribly planned public buildings ive ever been in... there is no natural light, and you practically need a map to navigate.

patrick said...

i like the thompson center too... formally i really like it... in a few years hopefully they'll pull out that terrible colored glass and replace it with something more subtle

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments about the colored panels at the Thompson Center.

If they got rid of the blue and the red (salmon?) then the Thompson Center would be a gem.

Anonymous said...

I've always felt the large slab of a building on Wabash, between Adams and Monroe, is the ugliest building in the city. It'a an eye sore when viewed from Grant or Millennium Park.

Isaac said...

The Thompson center is hideous. Certainly the interior colors are awful, but the exterior view is no gem either. It is squat, misshapen and just generally unattractive. I'm not even a big fan of the spaces inside, the food court is much to dark, all the natural light is spoiled on a completely underutilized center court, while the restaurants and diners are left in the shade.

Other obvious candidates, Soldier Field and The pimple building at Museum Park. As I recall, UIC campus has a couple of hideous buildings as well, a high rise in particular.

Larry said...

I'm no fan of the original architecture of 55 E. Monroe (large slab on Wabash)but the block long lobby has kept me warm and dry for years going to and from work, which I appreciate. the condo rehab at the top of the building helps a little to break down the scale but it seems like they have a color match problem with the old and new. Maybe the whole building needs to be cleaned.

Anonymous said...

The roof of the HWL is awesome. It's a shame that we live in an age when people are terrified of ornament in architecture. I love Mies as dutifully as the rest, but I'll take the chrome eagles of the Chrysler building over a thousand of his golden ratio boxes any day. The general absence of crowns, finials and spires in postwar Chicago buildings is pretty depressing. Trump could really use a hat, I like the idea of a ten story highly abstracted, tapering acanthus leaf motif myself, if only to give Adrian Smith nightmares. Even worse though is the present trend of tacking on waving or sloped canopies like jaunty caps on otherwise monotonous structures. That's real lipstick on a pig stuff there. Incidentally, 55 W. Monroe was fortunately spared one of these "rad" bonnets in its present overhaul, although it continues to move from a plain, probably ponderous but contextually appropriate building to one that is just plain ugly. I like the crown of Title and Trust personally. All things considered, the Thompson center is the best big building built in Chicago in the past thirty years. Big Helmut fan here. The fear of color is as bad or worse than that of ornament, and just the kind of sentiment that gives rise to all of these dun towers of appeasement that have typified the recent boom.

skimble said...

I agree with many of the others that the interior floor plan is perhaps uglier than the exterior. It is downright hostile to patrons to force them to take three escalators and an elevator to get near a book (discounting the "popular" 7-11 library on the ground floor).

I read somewhere that the cost of the owls was almost exactly the amount cut from the book budget for the year of the building's debut. Count me as pro-decoration, but even more vehemently pro-book.

Unknown said...

Interesting comments! HWL doesn't much thrill me, but to call it one of the ugliest is just plain loopy. It's not even the worst one in Chicago. Have we, for example, forgotten the Michigan Avenue Marriott? Even in its reincarnation, the base remains an abomination. I agree that the Thompson Center might be much improved by getting ride of the salmon. I avoid that block so I don't have to see it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this post. There are many structures in the world that can be stated as the most ugkiest structures. some of them are Ryogyong Hotel, Royal Ontario Musuem, Petrobras Headquarters, Markel Building, Zizkov Television Tower, Beehive, National Library of Pristina, Center Georges Pompidou, Federation Square, Morris A. Mechanic Theater for more details on this structure visit Top 10 World’s Ugliest Structures

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