There are three aspects to a building that all need to be focused on in order to create beautiful, functioning projects completed on time and to a high standard.

Besides ordering high-quality building materials online, you also need a team of skilled workers working to a clearly defined plan designed by an architect.

When everything works, you get a fantastic piece of architecture that stands the test of time that requires little maintenance outside of what you would expect for any building, such as was seen with the striking Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.

However, even the most celebrated designers sometimes get it badly wrong, whether by letting an ambitious design get in the way of practicality or making compromises in the worst places.


Kemper Arena, Kansas

The late Helmut Jahn had a five-decade career as an outstanding and award-winning architect and designed fascinating structures such as the Charlemagne Building in Brussels and Veer Towers in Nevada.

However, the first building he was involved in was a disaster. The Kemper Arena, now known as the Hy-Vee Building, lacked the wide-open spaces and glass facades that characterised his later career, but its external skeletal trusses used to hold the roof up meant that there were no obstructing columns.

However, that roof would infamously collapse in 1979 thanks to the combination of pooling water and 70mph winds, which in combination with the age of the arena caused one hanger to break, taking the rest with it soon after.


Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Known locally as “Paddy’s Wigwam”, the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral was designed by Sir Fredrick Gibberd, known for the similarly striking London Central Mosque, as well as the core design for the BISF house used after the Second World War.

The design is striking if controversial, but problems caused by a low budget and rushed schedule meant that the building struggled with leaks in its roof as well as tiles coming away from the building. These flaws were so significant that they led to a lawsuit.


SIS Building

Best known as that building that blows up in several James Bond films, Terry Farrell’s design for the Secret Intelligence Services is remarkably conspicuous given its occupants are secret agents.

However, whilst the building rather derisively known as “Legoland” has its fair share of detractors who described it as akin to a prop from a Tim Burton Batman film and even saw MI6 staff cheer when it blew up during a scene in the 2012 film Skyfall, it is a blunder that highlights Mr Farell’s imaginative design skill.

One of his first buildings was the striking TV-AM studios at Camden Lock, complete with a dozen of the TV station’s signature eggcups, as well as the winged postmodern awe of the redesigned Charing Cross Station.

He would also work on Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, Guangzhou South railway station and KK100, the largest-ever building designed by a British architect.

The SIS Building was not the last word for his career but more of a fascinating aside and one that has some defenders even if it has far more detractors.