Blowing Up Architecture Fails, Video Game Style – SURFACE
The Marble Arch Mound is perhaps already one of the most baffling architectural failures of the decade. Originally designed by MVRDV to attract people to London’s Oxford Street shopping district after the lockdown, the man-made hill was scorned for its spiraling costs and unfinished appearance. Growing criticism caused the attraction to close after just six months. MVRDV director Winy Maas blamed the failure of the potential landmark on “loveless execution” of the design, prompting the departure of a city official managing the project.
Now, video game designer Dan Douglas has recreated the ill-fated monument in a modified version of the classic ’90s shooter Duke Nukem, giving irate visitors and foes alike the chance to virtually blast it apart. The satisfying spectacle got us thinking: what other architectural failure would people love to blow up in a video game? We asked our Instagram followers. Here are the top three choices:
The Ship at Hudson Yards
Thomas Heatherwick’s flashy Stairway to Nowhere opened to mixed reviews, with critics mocking its perceived extravagance, lack of accessibility for disabled visitors, and shawarma-like appearance. After three people jumped to death in less than a year, the structure closed indefinitely. Critics first raised concerns about the safety of the monument when the first visuals were revealed in 2016. The architect’s journal“but when you build high, people will jump.”
Britain’s largest piece of public art, this Anish Kapoor-designed lookout tower certainly had Olympic ambitions. The 376-foot-tall folly commemorates London’s hosting of the 2012 Summer Olympics, but was rejected from the outset for its shapeless shape. Critics were quick to call it “the Godzilla of public art” and “a huge wire-mesh fence that desperately hung around the bell of a giant French horn.” Shortlisted for the Carbuncle Cup, a prize for failures in British architecture, the monument has revived discourse on the declining quality of public art across the country.
The tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere when it opened in 2011, 8 Spruce took Frank Gehry’s ambitions to the skies of Manhattan. The 870-foot-tall building undulates with an undulating concrete facade reminiscent of the Pritzker Prize-winning deconstructivist design language, which has earned Paul Goldberger praise as “one of the finest downtown towers” and “an undisputed architectural masterpiece” worthy of standing alongside the nearby Woolworth Building. Even so, 8 Spruce struggled with high vacancy rates at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing its owners to list the building for $850 million in 2021.