5 Famous Construction Bloopers

We’re still uncomfortably full of Thanksgiving turkey, and as we stand at the precipice of holiday madness we figure everyone could use a laugh. The end of the year seems like a good time to recap 2013’s best construction bloopers, along with a few others that people are still talking about.

Walkie Talkie

Crowds gather as a television crew try to fry an egg as the sun glares down from the concave side wall of the 37-story skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street, known locally as the ‘Walkie Talkie.’ Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images/Time.com

No 2013 construction project received quite as much attention as London’s Walkie Talkie, a skyscraper that came to international attention, not for its impressive height or architectural elements, but for the fact that it can fry an egg. On the sidewalk. Oh – and it can also melt a car. Jaguar owner Martin Lindsay parked his car underneath the building’s rays and came back to find some panels warped beyond repair from a beam of light reflecting down from the building. The problem occurs 2 hours a day for 2-3 weeks out of the year when the sun is at a particular position, but the developers are still trying to figure out how to mitigate Walkie Talkie’s rays.

China’s Halfway Highway

From dailymail.co.uk

Chinese developers did not realize a new apartment building jutted out into four lanes of an 8-lane highway being built in the Shaanxi province in western China until highway construction crews arrived to find a building in their way. Residents refused to move unless they were heavily compensated, so the city council decided to save the money and have the highway go around the building. The residents now enjoy life in the middle of a major roadway.

No One Thought of the Rain

Photo from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

We definitely don’t mean to rag on China, but it’s a huge country with tons of construction happening, so odds are they’re going to have some good bloopers. This next blooper is from back in 2009, but it’s a good one with an important lesson – don’t forget about the rain. That photo you’re looking at is an apartment building in Shanghai that neatly toppled over after rain destroyed the building’s foundation. How? The builders dammed up the river next to the apartment complex (despite warnings), leaving rain water nowhere to go and therefore creating unstable ground. Thankfully no one was living in the building yet. But imagine the crew’s surprise arriving at this jobsite for work.

Yes, the Architect Really Did Forget the Weight of the Books

Photo from CNBC: http://www.cnbc.com/id/44231749/page/9

The story of the architect who forgot the weight of the books and caused the library to sink has been called an urban legend, but universities throughout the United States claim they are the source of the story. One famous example is the W.E.B Du Bois Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The library received widespread acclaim due to its 26-stories making it the tallest library in the United States. But 2 months after it opened, brick chips started falling off the building’s exterior and the building started sinking. 60,000 books were removed from the library, but no one has officially blamed the weight of the books.

Singed Hair and Suntans

Photo from http://www.reviewjournal.com/ Courtesy of Bill Pintas

You can’t go through a modern list of construction bloopers and not come across Las Vegas’ Vdara resort. In 2010, hotel guests lying by the pool began to notice an unusual smell mingling with the usual poolside chlorine and coconut scented sun oil – the smell of burning hair. Turns out the hotel’s reflective exterior caused a phenomenon known to hotel guests and employees as the ‘Vdara death ray,’ and to hotel management as ‘solar convergence.’ The ray moves across the sun deck during the day, and the hotel has added more foliage and sun umbrellas to try and help the problem. Best part – same architect as Walkie Talkie!


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