AD’s 24 ugliest skyscrapers

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In Bangkok, the top building on AD’s list of 24 ugliest skyscrapers worldwide. (AD)

Architectural Digest has posted a list of the 24 ugliest skyscrapers in the world. Bully for AD. The building on top is in Bangkok. Is it the ugliest or the 24th ugliest? The editors do not say. I suspect that the list is in reverse order, not just because the protocol for lists nowadays is that the first shall be last, but because the last, in this case, is the Trump Tower in Las Vegas. Yuuugly!

It is a very ugly building but not the worst on this list. These are all ugly buildings not because they fail deeply on just about every aesthetic level – even though they do – but because they are all modernist buildings. I ap- plaud AD for posting this list, but couldn’t they find one ugly traditional skyscraper just for the sake of verismilitude? If it were a list of the most beautiful modernist skyscrapers, I dare say the best would be worse than the worst on any list of the 24 ugliest traditional skyscrapers. Or of all traditional skyscrapers of all time. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, AD!

No, of course there are probably some accidentally attractive modernist buildings that are better than the worst traditional buildings. Maybe five?

By the way, the skyscraper in Bangkok is called the Elephant Building. Did you guess that before you read it here?

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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10 Responses to AD’s 24 ugliest skyscrapers

  1. AD may call those the ugliest skyscrapers, but several of those buildings are not anything near skyscrapers. They are pretty uniformly ugly, though, so I give them points for trying. The Fish and the Basket, though, are in Venturi’s “duck” definition, instead of decorated shed, and so are outside the allowable definition of modern.


  2. Pingback: The apotheosis of Ong-ard | Architecture Here and There

  3. dehggial says:

    By the way, the skyscraper in Bangkok is called the Elephant Building. Did you guess that before you read it here?

    I thought it was a duck!


  4. blue streak says:

    Very entertaining. The “fish” building and the “basket” building, I can’t stop laughing. As for the rest, failures. What were they thinking? Were they on drugs?


  5. LEON KRIER says:

    interestingly the Bangkok “Elephant”building illustrated in your blog was designed by Ongard Satabrandhu, Thailand’s most prominent and talented architect. He had since then a profound and miraculous life and career change, beautifully illustrated and recorded in the Rizzoli Monograph on his work, which I had the pleasure and honour to introduce.


    • Good! I will look him up and maybe post on him today. I still cannot discern any method of assessing these buildings that enables an objective observer or judge of a competition to tell a good modernist building from a bad one. By the way, I see that Laubin has done a capriccio of your work. Congratulations!


  6. I’m glad it was on the list, too, Rob. The big question is that if the TM got on the list, what are the parameters the editor might use to keep any modernist building off the list, leaving aside that there are only 24 spots on a list that might bear having 24,000 spots, or – who knows how many buildings have been built since 1950 – 24 million spots?


  7. Pleased that Tour Montparnasse continues to feature strongly on such lists. Its ONE redeeming feature is that it provides a most excellent viewing platform along the Champ de Mars to the Tour Eiffel! (And arguably this is the best view in Paris, as it is also the only place from which the Tour Montparnasse does not detract from the cityscape!)


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