Wherever you happen to be reading this, there's a good chance that you're doing so with a roof comfortably over your head. But how do you know that whoever designed said roof didn't mistake "used chewing gum" for "roofing nails"? We assume that people who build buildings know what they're doing, but that shit isn't easy, and damn it, mistakes get made.
That's why, even today, we wind up with things like ...
#6. The U.S. Naval Base That's a Big Ol' Swastika
Built in the late 1960s (way before Google Earth blew everyone's minds), San Diego's Coronado Naval Base housed military personnel without incident for decades. Apparently it was designed during a period in human history when people skipped that whole "drawing up plans" step and just showed up on construction day with their building-making pants on, because it wasn't until 2006 that someone took a break from seeing if Google Earth could be used to spot Laura Bush sunbathing in the backyard of the White House long enough to check out what the four L-shaped buildings looked like from above.
The Ridiculous Failure:
The (again, American) naval base formed the unmistakable shape of a swastika, the Nazi symbol that was plastered all over everything from Nazi tanks to the Hindenburg to Hitler's monogrammed thong panties and Indiana Jones' resulting night terrors. Hell, if you look at it in its proper north-south orientation the way it would appear on a map or, you know, an architectural drawing, the base is even aligned in the exact same way as the design on the Nazi flag:
When the general public caught wind of the situation a few years ago, the U.S. government apologized profusely and pledged to fix the problem. One public affairs officer said, "We take this very seriously. ... We don't want to be associated with something as symbolic and hateful as a swastika." Initially, the Navy planned some cosmetic changes that would mask the layout of the buildings at a cost of about $600,000. Fast forward to 2012, and the scheme had ballooned into a full-blown remodel of the entire place, which would turn the base into a four-panel grid that would cost up to $40 million. At the time of writing, the Navy is taking the matter of their "hateful" building so "very seriously" that you can still scope out Swastikagate for yourself on Google Maps.
So why the hell would the Greatest Generation build a monument to their mortal enemy in the first place? Well, despite some wild conspiracy theories to the contrary, it seems that it wasn't so much a case of honoring der Fuhrer as it was of not giving der Fucks. The original plans called for a single L-shaped building, but those plans grew with increasing space needs. John Mock, the original architect, damn well realized what it looked like from above, but apparently said something along the lines of "Eh, fuck it. It's not like the general public will have free, limitless access to satellite imagery in my lifetime."
#5. "The Dalek" Is Guilty of Creating a Crazy Wind Tunnel (Also, Murder)
Bridgewater Place has the dual distinction of being both the tallest and the butt-freaking-ugliest building in Leeds. When viewed from the side, it's easy to see why locals have unofficially dubbed it "The Dalek" -- named after the ungainly cyborgs from Doctor Who -- but that's not the only reason the name is so fitting: Just like the evil, everyone-hating mutant salt shakers from the TV show, Bridgewater Place wants to exterminate you.
The Ridiculous Failure:
As Boston so shatteringly discovered with the John Hancock Tower, you can't build a skyscraper without accounting for wind. All that surface area jutting up into the wild blue yonder like Mother Earth just popped a steely boner means that any super-tall building is going to catch an assload of wind. All that air has to go somewhere, and sometimes that somewhere is straight down. That's the case with the Dalek, which has officially been blamed for creating a hurricane-like wind tunnel in the surrounding area. Bridgewater Place amplifies local gales to the point where people have been thrown to the ground by them, resulting in torn livers (Jesus, that's a thing?!) and transforming people's scalps into something that wouldn't look at all out of place in your local butcher's case.
All in all, the Leeds City Council has pinned Bridgewater Place as the cause of at least 25 "incidents," which, translated from British English, could mean anything from accidentally wind-goosing a Marilyn Monroe lookalike to full-blown homicide. We're not joking, by the way -- there's one documented case of the wind tunnel succeeding in the latter, when an especially strong gust Hulk-smashed a truck right onto an unsuspecting bystander. Let's say that again: This building threw a freaking truck onto someone.
Or, as the British put it, "pitched a bloody solicitor."
A plan is in place to correct the problem, but local experts are skeptical -- it's not like you can just ask the wind to cut that shit out, so the best they can hope for is to redirect it. In the meantime, officials have installed big orange "Beware of Flying Trucks" signs as a stopgap.
#4. A Luxury Skyscraper That Got Taken Over by Squatters
David Brillembourg's Venezuelan office skyscraper had a bright future ahead of it. Chock-full of hoity-toity amenities such as a helipad, it was going to be the place to work for all the well-to-do folk in early '90s Caracas. Unfortunately, Brillembourg moved on up to the big high-rise in the sky before his dream project could be completed, and after the government yoinked the property during the following financial crisis, construction never resumed.
Iwan Baan/Messyness Chic
Instead people ripped bits off, apparently.
The Ridiculous Failure:
The Tower of David wasn't destined to stay empty indefinitely. In 2007, the skyscraper was invaded by droves of squatters led by a former gang member who had found religion in prison, and they've been living there ever since. Since most of the 45-story unfinished building didn't yet have the amenities you expect from a home -- like, say, electricity or windows -- residents took to MacGyvering basic utilities. You know your city has hit the skids when you're this excited to finally install your own toilet:
Meridith Kohut/NY Times
Of course, without plumbing to which to attach said toilet ...
Instead of being home to fancy executives and shitheel bankers, now over 3,000 people live in what is essentially a real-life version of the slum tower blocks from Dredd. You might even have seen the Tower of David in an episode of the third season of Homeland, but what the show left out was the astounding community that has built up inside. If you picked one of the 28 inhabited floors at random, you might find a bodega or a beauty shop, or even a practicing doctor or dentist.
Meridith Kohut/NY Times
The price you pay for affordable health care.
That the city was so desperate they had to completely abandon such a prominent building -- and that so many citizens were desperate enough to move in -- speaks volumes about the state of the common Venezuelan. On the other hand, the sheer tenacity and organization it must take to live in the Tower of David is heartening in itself. It's appalling and sort of inspiring at the same time.