Show Us the 'Ugly' Buildings That You Love



This building in Brussels, Belgium! (Schaerbeek neighborhood) scares me. But when I’m near it I can’t look away. And trust me, the other side of the building is even worse.


Somehow, most buildings that fascinate me in an ugly/lovable way are churches ?! In Strasbourg (France), most churches look alike (they’re made from a darkish pink stone like the cathedral), and either pretty or unnoticeable. But there are exceptions :

This one, that kind of looks like a space building from interstella 5555 that was made for worshiping wheat (?!) in the 60’s. (I feel like there are going to be a lot of 60’s-70’s buildings in this thread…) Why do I love you, ugly brownish church ? Why ?

(you can “travel” there using google street view)

There is a way older church in Strasbourg that is so notoriously ugly that there is a story about the architect being sentenced to death for his job on the steeple (fortunately, I think it’s only an urban legend). Why ? Because when you see it from the side, it’s ok, but the front view (which you can easily have, since there is a bridge just up front) is… Well… The images will tell you the rest :

Fun fact : it’s impossible to draw ! The whole perspective is wrong.
(you can “travel” there using google street view - I know what you’re thinking : scaffoldings ! are they going to put things in order ? well no, they kept the ugly yet somehow lovable steeple)


My hometown of New Haven, Connecticut has plenty of ugly and harsh brutalist architecture, but the old Pirelli Tire building on Long Wharf, which was designed by Marcel Breuer, has always been my favorite. It’s fascinated me since I was a kid.


Oh! I actually think that might be this place with an incredible rooftop pool!


How weird, I think I love it.


Hail Hydra.


The old Bell Labs building in Holmdel, NJ (now Bell Works, unrelated to the hoary research powerhouse) is a soul-crushing contradiction of endless glass with not a single window, dominated on all sides by vast lifeless parking areas. But it is only when you enter the building that the nature of this panopticon assaults your senses: row upon row of cages to house brilliant minds separated by an enormous empty space at the core.

(picture credit: Wikimedia Commons)


I have a soft spot for hideous campus buildings (I work in higher ed) but Brewster Hall, the building where I took my history classes in undergrad at East Carolina University definitely comes to mind.


I don’t love it but here is the ugly old city\county complex in my home town of Florence, SC.


For comparison’s sake here is the new one:


University Hall at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Pic from World Architecture Map.


I’m a huge fan of the PET Building here in downtown St. Louis. I think it’s one of the most fully realized Brutalist buildings in the region.



This is the building I work in. Absolutely stark and intimidating, like an evil corporation compound. Love it so much.


Students at the University of York, UK, get to graduate in this wonderful concrete spaceship. It’s stuffy, surrounded by waterfowl, and was apparently once wrecked during a ‘Boomtown Rats’ concert, but it’s such an iconic piece of the campus that there would probably be outcry if it is ever scheduled for demolition.

(Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The other university in the city gets York Minster - a grand gothic cathedral - for their graduation ceremonies, which only serves to increase the animosity between the two institutions!


Torre Velasca in Milan! Looks like a post-apocalyptic prison, towering over the city… IMG_2239|375x500


Killam Library, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS. Best place to get some work done and not be distracted by the beautiful architecture…


I’ve never seen it in person, but this chicken-shaped church is one of my favorite places in the Atlas

I find it so endearing that it inspired me to create a list of all the bird-shaped buildings we have in the database


No question: the Star Market floating over the Mass Pike right outside of Boston



Oh man. So much love-hate for brutalism in this thread! To part ways a bit, I enter this weird mansion (photo from the real estate listing) on a heavily trafficked city block in Indianapolis into the cannon. It graced my morning commute and watching the building grow and the front-yard dolphin statues multiply throughout the years was truly one of my greatest joys.

The backstory of this place is even weirder.


Oresundskollegiet* in Amagerbro, Copenhagen. I lived here for a few months and would always joke about its very prison-like appearance.

*Kollegiums are dorm-like communal residences for students in Denmark.


I nominate the Physical Sciences Building at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. It is an unfortunate, running joke on campus that it is ugly. In fact, it is often treated as a unanimous opinion, and called even called ugly on promotional tours. There are apocryphal “facts” about it’s riot-proof origins (these rumors are also present for many brutalist buildings on college campuses around the country), and is affectionately called “the Blender” due to it’s base+high rise arrangements.

However, I love this building. I think it’s brutalist, neo-modernist appearance is fantastic, and a breath of fresh air from the anglophilic, samey, “we want to be Harry Potter” neo-gothic appearance of other “pretty” campus buildings. I find its somewhat imposing nature beautiful. It was designed by two very notable Oklahoma architects, and I believe that its maligned reputation is misinformed and not respectful of it’s historical and aesthetic significance.