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The Most Expensive Construction Mistakes in the World!

Hey there, folks! Have you ever heard about the Shanghai apartment block that toppled over in the middle of the night? Or what about the London office block that accidentally transformed into a deadly heat ray? Well, today we're putting on our hard hats and taking a closer look at some of the most expensive construction mistakes in the world. These colossal blunders have left a lasting impact on their respective cities and wallets! So, buckle up and get ready for a wild ride through the world of construction gone wrong.


1. The Aon Center - A Marble Meltdown!

In its heyday, the Aon Center in Chicago proudly stood as the second tallest building on Earth. Designed by architect Edward Darryl Stone, this mid-century modern masterpiece was initially christened the Amaco Building. Stone, in an outrageous flex, decided to clad the entire building in Italian Carrara marble, a material favored by classical artisans since antiquity. However, the Windy City's dramatic temperature fluctuations proved to be too much for the marble, causing it to crack and warp. When an entire panel broke off and crashed onto the neighboring Credential Center, it was clear that the building needed a makeover. An $80 million granite re-cladding project was initiated, but hey, at least they probably had insurance!


2. Tacoma Narrows Bridge - Galloping Gertie's Collapse!

Construction workers on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington state could already see which way the wind was blowing. That's why they affectionately nicknamed it "Galloping Gertie" even before it was finished. Some genius thought it would be a great idea to use cheap plate girders underneath the road bed. After a rocky start, the bridge eventually collapsed in a modest 40-mile-an-hour wind, just four months and seven days after its completion. The cost? A staggering $6 million, which, considering inflation, is not far off a billion dollars today!


3. Twenty Fenchow Street - When Sunlight Turns Deadly!

When the innovative curvy skyscraper known as Twenty Fenchow Street was completed in London, it quickly earned the nickname "The Pint Glass" due to its distinctive shape. However, engineers soon discovered a major flaw in their design. The gigantic concave facade was focusing beams of summer sunlight onto the busy pavement below, acting like a molten death ray. One unlucky local's flash car was partially melted, leading to an embarrassing payout of $10 million for the developers. They had to hastily install a gigantic sunscreen to prevent further damage. Ouch!


4. Sydney Opera House - From Triumph to Construction Failure!

Sydney Opera House is widely recognized as a triumph of aesthetics and an emblem of a young, forward-thinking Australia. But here's a little secret: It's also an object lesson in construction failure. The Australian government held a contest in 1957 to design a future national opera house, and John Hutzen's sail-like design won over the judges. However, little actual planning had gone into Hutzen's pitch. With a plan that evolved haphazardly over time and no single project manager in charge, the budget spiraled out of control. What should have taken four years and $4 million Australian dollars ended up taking nearly 14 years and a mind-boggling $102 million Australian dollars. Oops, that's what happens with simple old-fashioned rubbish planning!


5. Lotus Riverside Building 7 - A Building Takes a Tumble!

In the early hours of June 27, 2009, residents of Shanghai's Min Hang district awoke to an almighty crash. Building number seven, a 13-story apartment complex in its final stages of completion, had toppled over, tragically killing one construction worker. Investigators discovered that a large quantity of earth excavated to build an underground garage had been foolishly dumped onto a nearby creek, causing the creek to divert underground. This diversion swept away the foundations of building number seven. The estimated cost of this laxadaisical practice? A whopping $30 million and half a dozen jail terms for those responsible.


6. Brandenburg Airport - A Decade of Technical Inefficiency!

The German people have always enjoyed a reputation for technical efficiency, but that reputation took a hit with the Brandenburg Airport. This fairly humdrum city airport project was supposed to take a couple of years and cost 2.5 billion euros. However, a decade later, the airport finally opened its doors, with a jaw-dropping price tag of seven billion euros. The project was plagued by issues, including a chief planner for the fire protection system who turned out to be unqualified. There were also allegations of bribes paid to corrupt officials and poor planning that resulted in inadequate fire safety measures. It seems like the Germans were just winging it!


7. Millennium Tower - The Leaning Tower of San Francisco!

San Francisco's Millennium Tower, the tallest residential tower in the city, has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Since its unveiling in 2009, the tower has sunk 18 inches and ominously leaned 14 inches to the west. The culprit? Inappropriate ground conditions, specifically old bay clay. To stabilize the tower, workers have to drive 52 140,000-pound piles, some 250 feet deep into the bedrock beneath the city. The total cost of the stabilization process, including compensation for the tower's inhabitants, is expected to exceed $100 million. Let's hope they fix those cracks in the sidewalk too!


8. The Harmon Hotel - A Costly Concrete Catastrophe!

Las Vegas is no stranger to regrettable errors, but the Harmon Hotel takes the cake for lavishness. Designed by a prestigious team at Foster and Partners Architects, the boutique hotel was initially planned to stand 47 stories tall on the world-famous Strip. However, building inspectors halted the project after just 26 stories had been erected due to inadequately installed rebar reinforcements in the concrete. The upper condo element was abandoned, and eventually, the entire building had to be demolished floor by floor. The cost of building up to that point was estimated at $275 million, and the cost of demolition added a further $173 million to the bill. Looks like what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas!

So, folks, what do you think? Is there a common thread to all these epic construction fails? Let us know in the comments! And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more rock-steady tech content. Stay safe, and until next time!



1. Were there any casualties in these construction mistakes?

Yes, unfortunately, some of these construction mistakes resulted in casualties. For example, the collapse of Building 7 in Shanghai's Min Hang district led to the tragic death of a construction worker.


2. How did the Aon Center fix its marble cladding issue?

After the marble cladding on the Aon Center in Chicago cracked and warped, an $80 million granite re-cladding project was undertaken to replace the damaged panels.


3. What caused the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge?

The collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington state was primarily due to the use of cheap plate girders underneath the road bed, which couldn't withstand the wind forces. The bridge became known as "Galloping Gertie" due to its oscillation in windy conditions.


4. How long did it take to complete the Sydney Opera House?

Although the Sydney Opera House is now recognized as an iconic architectural masterpiece, its construction faced numerous challenges and delays. It took nearly 14 years to complete the project, significantly longer than the initial estimate of four years.


5. What caused the shrinkage and leaning of the Millennium Tower in San Francisco?

The Millennium Tower in San Francisco experienced shrinkage and leaning due to the inadequate ground conditions. The tower was built on old bay clay, which caused settlement and structural issues. To stabilize the tower, extensive pile driving operations are being carried out.

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