Doctors, lawyers, scientists and architects are all people we assume at least sort of know what they're doing. And for good reason: If a barista gets a job that he or she is patently unqualified for, you might get too much mocha syrup in your frappe. But if, say, an architect has an off day, your apartment could fold in on itself the next time you close your bedroom and kitchen windows at the same time. But just because we expect perfection from them, that doesn't mean they always live up to it. Even architects, foremen and chief engineers come in to work hungover once in a while, and that's when we get failures like these.
5Lotus Riverside Collapses Because of Rain
The Lotus Riverside building complex in Shanghai was a complex of 11 buildings by the side of a river. Imagine that. By June of 2009, the project was nearing completion, with most of the flats already sold off. Then the workers showed up one morning to find that one of the buildings had fallen flat over on its side, completely intact. It was like a giant toddler came by and just smacked it over for the simple thrill of the destruction.
If it had happened in Japan, we would have totally believed that and moved on.
The Embarrassing Failure:
It was all due to an underground parking garage, some rain and a terminal case of made in China.
The building itself was OK -- in fact, considering how well it held together after it "collapsed," we'll go out on a limb and say that it was pretty great -- but problems were all around and, more specifically, beneath it. When workers began construction on an underground parking garage next to the structure, they piled all the dirt from that into a landfill beside a nearby creek. Then they all turned on their jackhammers when a bevy of other engineers came by and repeatedly ignored their warnings about how bad of an idea it is to dam up a river right next to a new construction project. To the surprise of, like, maybe one guy who never got to play in mud puddles as a kid, the creek's banks collapsed and flooded the area. So when it rained soon afterward, the building was basically toast. Its foundations gave way, narrowly missing the neighboring structures, and just barely avoiding kicking off the world's most terrifying domino display.
"OK, so maybe we'll have to knock off the deposit."
4The Walt Disney Concert Hall Shoots Heat Rays
Frank Gehry is one of the most prolific architects of all time. His designs range from wavy and crazy-looking to ... well, just wavy and crazy-looking.
Back in college, they called him "Ol' Wavy Building Guy." They weren't very good with nicknames.
Naturally, really thinking outside the box while building your giant boxes is going to lead to some problems, some of which have historically included a building that constantly dumps snow onto passing pedestrians, one that eats women's high heels and one that accidentally fires heat rays at anything nearby.
This will be the last great fortress of man when the Ant Wars come.
The Embarrassing Failure:
As you can tell from the above photo, the building in question is very shiny, and while shiny things are all sorts of pretty (by virtue of their shininess), they also tend to reflect light. If you concentrate that light onto a single area and angle it just right, you get a crude laser. If you're a comic book supervillain, you might use that knowledge to burn your name into the moon. If you're the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, you set your sights a little lower: maybe just heat up some neighboring condos, like the Promenade Towers, by 15 degrees or so. Or nearly blind some drivers at nearby traffic lights. Or, hey -- just see how hot you can get that sidewalk (the answer is a ridiculous 140 degrees). Unluckily for humanity, Frank Gehry gave a building an uncontrollable death ray. But luckily for us, it was more on the terror level of a kid with a magnifying glass than Chairface Chippendale.
And by "us" we mean "the people who have never been near it."
The problem has since been fixed, when workers sandblasted the outside of the trouble areas in order to reduce glare. But hey, if you really want to stay in a building capable of hating you, there's always that one in Las Vegas that shoots a heat ray into its own pool.
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Except for skin cancer. That shit follows you.