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Harold Washington Library One of World’s Ugliest Buildings?

October 14, 2009

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin points out that Chicago’s central library the Harold Washington Library (seen below) received the dubious honor of being one of the 15 ugliest buildings in the world, according to Travel & Leisure Magazine the publishers of the list.  However as both Kamin and the list-makers concede: “The really ugly buildings, as the story accompanying the list says, are the anonymous ones where architects aren’t even trying to make a statement.”  Read Kamin’s whole article here.


Image: The Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago. Taken by Douglas Kaye, 2005

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2009 9:25 pm

    i love how garish it is!

  2. Joe Lewis permalink
    November 18, 2009 4:53 pm

    This library definitely doesn’t belong on a top 15 ugliest buildings list, but it is a good example of tacky 80s postmodernism. The exterior is silly, and the interior stinks. There doesn’t seem to be a main entrance but multiple ground level entrances connected by confusing circuitous hallways. It’s filled with escalators, horrible drop ceilings and fluorescent lighting, and ugly white walls.
    The most beautiful central library I have ever seen, though it could probably use a little maintenance, is the Enoch Pratt library in Baltimore. Tasteful, civic, easy to navigate, and charming. I miss it a lot.

  3. December 2, 2009 10:26 am

    It looks like something that belongs in the Chinese New Year Parade!!

    I rank it up there in the “Ugliest Buildings in Chicago” category – right alongside the State of Illinois Thompson Center, which I still remember when it was being built – I told a friend that the exterior colored panels were just “preliminary while it is under construction.” Of course, NEVER expecting those hideous colors to be part of the final design!!

    saying it is ugly is being kind

  4. May 5, 2010 4:04 am

    Now thats a very unique building

  5. March 10, 2011 8:12 am

    At least it is memorable…

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