Because construction and architecture are fundamentally all about the finished product, there are a lot of unique approaches to handling a construction project, and cases where a sensible plan does not work as intended and an unorthodox plan ends up creating a beautiful landmark.
There are many choices in construction including purchasing the right building materials online, ensuring the foundations are solid, and the building is adequately supported.
Most of the time the rigorous planning and design work ensures that these projects succeed without issues. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes a single fatal flaw can come to define a building.
Leaning Tower Of Pisa
One of the earliest and most definitive examples of a fatal flaw defining a building, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was initially devised in the 12th century as a free-standing bell tower that was part of Pisa Cathedral. It was also designed to stand up straight.
The problems quickly arose during construction as it turned out the soft earth that the tower had been built upon started to give way, getting worse by the Tower’s completion in the 14th century despite attempts to counterbalance the tower’s upper levels.
It has been slightly stabilised by remedial work, reducing the 5.5-degree angle to a mere 3.97 degrees, but the lean has over the centuries become the tower and the city of Pisa’s defining feature.
20 Fenchurch Street
Better known as the Walkie-Talkie due to its distinctive bulbous radio-esque shape, 20 Fenchurch Street was always a controversial piece of construction work, adored by some architects and loathed by others.
However, it would in 2013 recieve the new moniker of “Walkie Scorchie” when it turned out that during the summer months, the concave side would focus superheated light onto the streets below, reaching temperatures so hot that it melted cars, fried eggs and burned doormats.
The Vdara Hotel And Spa had a similar problem, focusing light onto its swimming pool to the point that the building received the nickname “the Death Ray”.
Tacoma Narrows Bridge
The modern Westbound bridge seen in Tacoma, Washington has existed since 1950 and has been remarkably stable and trouble-free ever since, even earning the nickname Sturdy Gertie.
However, ten years before this, the first attempt at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was designed with cheap girders and was rampantly unstable from its opening day, with normal winds causing the bridge to buckle to the point that it received the nickname Galloping Gertie.
When a brisk, 43 miles-per-hour wind hit the bridge on 7th November 1940, the cables collapsed, the two halves of the bridge twisted in opposite directions and then this happened.
The bridge was completely ripped asunder, but thankfully nobody was injured by the calamity.
There is a rather imposing building found at Vauxhall Cross in London that is the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6.
The building itself is striking, inspired by Mayan temples, and its fatal flaw isn’t necessarily in its construction but more of a fundamental problem with its design.
Completed in 1994, it would take less than six years for the exceptionally obvious HQ of the British Secret Service to become the target of terrorist attacks, something ominously foreshadowed in the then-recent James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.