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Top 10 Ugly Buildings – Making a Case for the ROM

September 19th, 2014  |  Published in ARCHITECTURE, HOME & GARDEN, FEATURE

ROM httpstuffaverylikes.comPhoto Credit: stuffaverylikes.com |

I took a trip to Toronto this year and my must-do list included visiting the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). When I told someone this they forwarded me an article about how the ROM was on these lists for the World’s Top 10 Ugly Buildings.

At the time, seeing pictures of it I agreed it was an eyesore. But, when I was actually in Toronto, I gained an appreciation for it. Sure, in all its misshapen, head-scratching charm, one can argue it could have been designed in a more aesthetically pleasing way, but what’s done is done and I came around on it. When I was walking alongside the original building and stared at that point where old meets new, different, and changing, at that point, I thought about what a museum is and what’s inside.

The ROM is home to countless, invaluable samples of history spanning millions of years. Its purpose as a museum is to educate and as an architectural work of art, its core purpose should be more than looking pretty, and more about opening the mind to new possibilities and modes of thinking. Considering this, I thought about what it would mean if the building were made in the same design throughout. Not everything in that building is the same. We don’t look at just one subject in there. So it’s fine that the building looks less one-dimensional and more representative of diversity.

I think the design works. In that it confuses people, it has them rethink notions of art, the museum, and history. History is mixed up. Toronto is as mixed as it gets, a model city where differences connect, creations are wrought, and humanity shines. We live in a post-modern world where we have new, old, and new often fused with old. It is fitting that the cultural institution that is the Royal Ontario Museum would be symbolic of today’s plurality. Here’s to you, ROM. You’re not all that bad.

In addition, when I saw that Ugly Building article, I didn’t actually look at the list in depth. I thought I would do that now.

1. Morris A. Mechanic Theater, Baltimore, US
I don’t mind it. Simple, not too exciting, not a lot of colour, but clean looking. It feels like something out of the 80s, my favourite decade.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

2. Zizkov Television Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
Come on. It’s a television tower. Is it supposed to look cool, anyway? It’s fine (for what it is).
Photo Credit: telegraph.co.kr

3. The Beehive, Wellington, New Zealand
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons
Questionable. Reminds me of a Rolodex or a slide projector, things I’d find at a garage sale or someone’s basement full of obsolete garbage. If there’s an idea that the politicians there are busy as bees, then this is confusing as the majority of people in this world will never associate politicians with being hard working. Fail.

4. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
This thing doesn’t look like it’s done…
Photo Credit: mediation.centrepompidou.fr

5. Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia
One sad military complex? This is gross.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

6. Petrobras Headquarters, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Not sure what the designer’s vision could be for this. I don’t see the connection between Petrobras, an oil company, and a rubix cube gone wrong.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

7. Markel Building, Richmond, US
Ouch. Kind of Flintstones, kind of crumpled paper, kind of UFO. Doesn’t look very light-friendly either. No.
Photo Credit: architecturerichmond.files.wordpress.com

8. National Library, Pristina, Kosovo
What the? A library is a place of learning where you go to free your mind. (A) Why throw a metal net over it? (B) Why make the people feel like they’re in a weird prison with diagonal bars (C) What is up with those bubble domes? From an aerial view the thing looks like a skin disease. Redo.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons
Photo Credit: virtualglobetrotting.com

9. Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea
Weird. Spaceship, cult headquarters, megachurch. Impressive with all that glass, though.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

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