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ROM Crystal named one of world's ugliest buildings

Posted: November 20, 2009, 6:35 PM by Rob Roberts




By Alison Brownlee, National Post


A tourism web site has named the Royal Ontario Museum’s Crystal one of the world’s top 10 ugliest buildings.


VirtualTourist.com released its second annual list of the “World’s Top 10 Ugly Buildings,” and the Royal Ontario Musuem’s Michael Lee-Chin crystal slid in at No. 8.


Giampiero Ambrosi, general manager of VirtualTourist.com, said the buildings were chosen by the site’s one-million-plus members and editors from a list of 30 front-runners.


“The buildings picked are usually dated, or concrete blocks, weird glass cubes, weird appendages to buildings, or are a strange juxtaposition to the buildings around them,” said Mr. Ambrosi, alluding to the ROM’s original stone exterior. “It’s extremely personal and subjective.”


The initial list was chosen by members who travelled the world and submitted suggestions based on the buildings’ aesthetic appeal, or lack thereof, he said. “Many of these buildings don’t have the warmth of an ice cube while others don’t even seem completed. Either way, they make for very interesting conversation,” said Mr. Ambrosi.


David McKay, the ROM’s communications co-ordinator, declined comment today, saying, “We won’t be commenting. I guess the only thing I can say is that we won’t be saying anything.”


From a design perspective, Tom Bessai, director of the University of Toronto’s architectural studies program, said putting the ROM on the list was unfair.


“The deployment of shapes and geometry artistically makes the building stand out and makes it interesting,” said Mr. Bessai.


“The ROM has a kind of spectacle appeal, a sensational quality it was supposed to have created by the stark contemporary contrast to its immediate historical context.”


But he also said the addition fell flat because the design wasn’t resolved well enough to make it connect properly with the existing building. Mr. Bessai said the concept of the design seemed to be more in line with architect Daniel Libeskind’s other crystalline-inspired buildings – like those in Denver and Berlin – than with the ROM’s immediate environment.


As for what he would rather see on the list, Mr. Bessai chose the CBC building: “It has a fragmented quality that is not particularly effective in it’s urban context,” he said.


Here's the list, as reported by Reuters:


1. Morris A. Mechanic Theater; Baltimore, Maryland

Looking at the grim, impersonal facade of this once-thriving theater, it’s hard to believe its stage once hosted the likes of Katherine Hepburn and George C. Scott. Although it would be ugly without them, the windows boarded up with wood certainly don’t help matters. Its doors now closed, many locals feel the final curtain should have come down on this building long ago.


2. Zizkov Television Tower; Prague, Czech Republic

While its ugliness could easily stand on its own, the installation of small, climbing babies by the artist David Cerny transformed this tower from an eyesore to a head-shaker.


3. “The Beehive”; Wellington, New Zealand

A slide projector that fell on a wedding cake that fell on a waterwheel is one description of the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings, also known as “The Beehive.” Its proximity to the neighbouring Edwardian neo-classical Parliament House only accentuates its unattractiveness.


4. Centre Georges Pompidou; Paris

When looking at the primary colour-coded ducts constructed on the outside of this modern art museum, one quickly sees why these elements are usually hidden.


5. Federation Square; Melbourne, Australia

Billed as “Melbourne’s Meeting Place,” this frenzied and overly complicated square has a chaotic feel made worse by a web of unsightly wires from which overhead lights dangle.


6. Petrobras Headquarters; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A cross between a penitentiary and an unfinished Lego creation is one member’s description of this dreary, block-like structure which occupies a prominent place in the city’s downtown area. To make matters worse, exterior slats give the illusion that the building is actually falling apart.


7. Markel Building; Richmond, Virginia

Although it sounds like urban legend, this futuristic building was inspired by a baked potato served to the architect during a dinner for the American Institute of Architects.



8. Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, Royal Ontario Museum; Toronto

What I.M. Pei’s pyramid is to the Louvre, so is the relatively new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal to the Royal Ontario Museum. While many praise the glass structure, just as many are troubled by the incongruity to the original, more traditional museum that still sits directly beside it.


9. National Library; Pristina, Kosovo

It’s hard to know whether the honeycomb-pattern mesh that coats the outside of this library enhances or worsens this bizarre structure. It’s been said that when the building first opened, some thought the giant net-like feature was actually scaffolding.


10. Ryugyong Hotel; Pyongyang, North Korea

Riddled with issues that range from lack of money to poor construction to rumoured collapse, this still unfinished building has been under some form of construction for over 20 years.


Read more: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2009/11/20/rom-crystal-named-one-of-world-s-ugliest-buildings.aspx#ixzz0XTbkv0Cy

I have to agree. Having visited Toronto during the past summer, I strongly feel that they butchered what was a nice building before. If I was a Torontonian, I would be fuming.

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