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Old February 1st, 2008, 07:53 AM   #1
Manila-X
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The Worst Building in the History of Mankind

The Worst Building in the History of Mankind
By Eva Hagberg
Esquire Magazine
1/28/2008, 6:57 AM



A picture doesn't lie -- the one-hundred-and-five-story Ryugyong Hotel is hideous, dominating the Pyongyang skyline like some twisted North Korean version of Cinderella's castle. Not that you would be able to tell from the official government photos of the North Korean capital -- the hotel is such an eyesore, the Communist regime routinely covers it up, airbrushing it to make it look like it's open -- or Photoshopping or cropping it out of pictures completely.

Even by Communist standards, the 3,000-room hotel is hideously ugly, a series of three gray 328-foot long concrete wings shaped into a steep pyramid. With 75 degree sides that rise to an apex of 1,083 feet, the Hotel of Doom (also known as the Phantom Hotel and the Phantom Pyramid) isn't the just the worst designed building in the world -- it's the worst-built building, too. In 1987, Baikdoosan Architects and Engineers put its first shovel into the ground and more than twenty years later, after North Korea poured more than two percent of its gross domestic product to building this monster, the hotel remains unoccupied, unopened, and unfinished.


A bootleg video of the tower from YouTube. How the brazen videographer escaped without being arrested remains a mystery.

Construction on the Hotel of Doom stopped in 1992 (rumors maintain that North Korea ran out of money, or that the building was engineered improperly and can never be occupied) and has never started back up, which shouldn't come as a shock. After all, who the hell travels to beautiful downtown Pyongyang? It would make sense if the hotel were in South Korea, where Americans are allowed to travel and where projects like the Busan Lotte Tower and the Lotte Super Tower now rise thousands of feet above the formerly modest skyline.

With Pyongyang's official population said to range between 2.5 million and 3.8 million (official numbers are not made available by the North Korean government), the Ryugyong Hotel -- the 22nd largest skyscraper in the world -- is a failure on an enormous scale. To put it in context, imagine if the John Hancock Center (1,127 feet tall) in Chicago (population 2.9 million) was not only completely vacant, but unfinished with zero hope of ever being completed.

You may not be able to actually live there, but the building now has its own virtual real estate managers, Richard Dank and Andreas Gruber, a pair of German architects and self-described "custodians of the pyramid's diverse manifestations." The duo run Ryugyong.org, which they describe as an "experimental collaborative online architecture site." Sad you can't visit the building in real life? Log on, view the detailed 3-D models, and "claim" a subsection for yourself.


The Demolition S How video.

The Demolition S How video by the Italian architects Extraneo might not be as conceptual as Ryugyong.org, but this piece of architectural porn sure is fun to watch. The video (which you can watch above) was mounted as part of the exhibition Fiction Pyongyang, curated in part by Stefano Boeri, who also collected 120 speculative designs for the hotel in the June 2006 domus magazine. The designs, he says, "have forced it to reveal its icy nature, its irresistible fascination as a fragile alien meteorite." The worst building in the world is also, we now know, "the only built piece of science fiction in the contemporary world." And it's true. Demolition S How is all Blade Runner-style flying ads and soaring concrete, and the video reminds us that the worst building in the world is the closest humans have come to building a Death Star.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 02:00 PM   #2
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hey, people always slate this building for the ugliness of its concete shell. The thing is the cladding had never gone up, I think thats a little unfair, and quite the political tool I may add. If you envisage it the shining white as planned, I doubt it would be so ridiculed as it is now. The criticisms are opportunist.

Also the whole tone of Eva Hagberg's article is sensationalist and not averse to gloating, either. Personally I would think 'the worst building in the history of mankind' was something like Auschwitz, but hey, my 2 cents. If anything the hyperbole there could have come straight out of some North Korean propaganda rather than the other way round.

(Sure slate the regime for its follies and crimes, but to make a great big Example of their showcase architecture-gone-wrong is a bit of a cheap shot, and damages our own integrity).

Last edited by the spliff fairy; February 1st, 2008 at 02:12 PM.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 02:31 PM   #3
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It's very impressive. Shure it's unfinished and badly built but sometimes I think it's better this way then if it was covered with glass how it was orginally planned it's just more impressive this way like something from an old sf movie...
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Old February 1st, 2008, 06:21 PM   #4
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Well any unfinished building is ugly. Just that this one sticks out the most because it's so damn big Hopefully it will be finish one day.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 12:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the spliff fairy View Post
If you envisage it the shining white as planned, I doubt it would be so ridiculed as it is now.
Is there a rendering of how it should have looked when finished? I've never seen one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by the spliff fairy View Post
Personally I would think 'the worst building in the history of mankind' was something like Auschwitz...
I was going to say the same thing and I saw you already said it.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 01:11 AM   #6
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Kowloon Walled City was pretty bad too, but maybe it was actually a bunch of buildings.


klnwcity.org


adampadam (flickr)
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 01:15 AM   #7
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Looks like they are trying to build the worlds tallest rollercoaster, instead of a hotel.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 01:31 AM   #8
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This thing in North Korea might be one of the ugliest but still some ppl find it appealing . The other thing, Kowloon Walled City is pretty ugly .
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 05:31 AM   #9
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I've always really liked the Ryugyong Hotel because it looks so different to anything else.
I like it's history and the fact that it's shrowded in mystery as to why it was never finished. It always looks very creepy around the site as it's so empty.
I'd love to walk up to the top to see the view from up there. I find it incredible that the crane at the top, which has been there since 1994 has managed to not rust to bits and collapse.
Something should be done to save this building before it crumbles away.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 03:14 AM   #10
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that is very ugly.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 04:14 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WANCH View Post
It would make sense if the hotel were in South Korea, where Americans are allowed to travel and where projects like the Busan Lotte Tower and the Lotte Super Tower now rise thousands of feet above the formerly modest skyline.
Is this woman retarded?
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 04:18 AM   #12
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I love it 'cause it's grotesque and sits there brooding. Reminds me of a building I love seeing every day in Sydney...
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 04:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WANCH View Post
...After all, who the hell travels to beautiful downtown Pyongyang? It would make sense if the hotel were in South Korea, where Americans are allowed to travel...
Is she trying to imply that Americans are the only tourists or international travellers in the world??
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 04:37 AM   #14
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The political bias is amazing.

I personally love it. I only wish it was completed.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 06:15 AM   #15
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If only it were finished. Accoring to a render poster in Pyongyang, it would have had a blue glass fascade.
Something like this.

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Old February 4th, 2008, 06:16 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdiederi View Post
Kowloon Walled City was pretty bad too, but maybe it was actually a bunch of buildings.
The KWC is a good contender for this one but the building has been demolished.

But there are alot of tenements in HK that has that gritty feel as the KWC especially in Sham Shui Po but is not as notable.

I would agree with the status of Ryungyang Hotel. It is a supertall but is abandoned. And the design look brutal!
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Old February 4th, 2008, 07:15 AM   #17
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actually I don't dislike that hotel in Pyongyang, it is more or less the politics there that made it an easy target for people to attack it.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 10:57 AM   #18
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It looks depressing, probably partially because it is unifinished.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 07:44 PM   #19
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Well will it ever be finished?
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Old February 4th, 2008, 08:27 PM   #20
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That article is a vindictive piece of crap. This building would be a number 1 tourist attraction if it was in Las Vegas. That said it is quite ugly in it's current state, but anything that is triangular can't be all bad.
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