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10 Fascinating Buildings Never Built

Blogball . . . Comments

This is a collection of 10 of the most intriguing buildings that never quite made it to fruition for one reason or another. I think most of the architects in this list would agree that “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. For a larger view of each image, just click it and it will open in a new window. [JFrater: If you find this list especially interesting, I would recommend the excellent novel “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand which is based around architecture. You can buy it from Amazon.]


Hotel Attraction
Designed in 1908 for New York City

Antonio Gaudi New York City 2

Hotel Attraction was to be the tallest building in New York at the time and was designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. The planned total height was 360 meters / 1181 ft and was probably unrealistic for its time. Little is known about the origins of Hotel Attraction and was unknown until 1956, when a report called “The New World Called Gaudí” was published.

Interesting Fact: The drawings by Gaudi of the Attraction Hotel had actually been proposed as a basis for the rebuilding of the Ground Zero project in Manhattan.


The Illinois
Designed in 1956 for Chicago Illinois


The Illinois was a proposed mile-high (1,609 meters/5,280 feet) skyscraper, envisioned by Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright believed that it would have been technically possible to construct such a building even at the time it was proposed. The design included 528 stories, with a gross area of 18.46 million square feet.

Interesting Fact: A number of problems occurred in Wright’s design of The Illinois including space that was needed to service the elevators which would occupy all of the space available on the lower floors, thus defeating the purpose of the building’s height.


Fourth Grace
Designed in 2002 for Liverpool England

Fourth Grace

Despite what many believe was the ugliest of all the proposals, architect Will Alsop entered the winning design for this project and named it “The Cloud”. The projects name (Fourth Grace) is due to the development being located adjacent to the three historic buildings at the Pier Head site known as “The Three Graces”. The project was cancelled in 2004 due to spiraling costs.

Interesting Fact: The Fourth Grace was designed for office space, a 107-room hotel and 50,000 sq ft of community facilities, including a bar, restaurant and viewing gallery.


Beacon of Progress
Designed around 1891 for Chicago Illinois


Plans called for a 457 meters / 1500 foot stone tower in Jackson Park, Chicago, on the site of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. French-born architect and MIT Professor Désiré Despradelle came up with the winning design. With more financial backing the structure would have been by far the tallest man-made object in the world.

Interesting Fact: The design called for an amphitheater at the base to seat 100,000 people and sweeping piers that would extend into Lake Michigan for regattas.


Ville Contemporaine
Designed in 1922 for Paris France

Picture 5-7

The Ville Contemporaine was to house three million inhabitants and was designed by the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The centerpiece of this plan was the group of sixty-story skyscrapers built on steel frames and encased in huge curtain walls of glass. They housed both offices and the apartments of the most wealthy inhabitants. At the very center was a huge transportation center on different levels that would include depots for buses and trains, as well as highway and an airport at the top.

Interesting Fact: For a number of years French officials had been unsuccessful in dealing with the squalor of the growing Parisian slums, Le Corbusier thought this design was an efficient way to house large numbers of people in response to the urban housing crisis.


Tatlin’s Tower
Designed around 1917 for St. Petersburg Russia


Tatlin’s Tower would have dwarfed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The tower was to be built from industrial materials: iron, glass and steel. It was envisioned as a towering symbol of modernity. The tower’s main form was a twin helix which spiraled up to 400 m/1312ft in height, where visitors would be transported around with the aid of various mechanical devices.

Interesting Fact: At the base of the structure was a rotating cube which was designed as a venue for lectures, conferences and legislative meetings. The cube would complete a rotation in the span of one year. Above that cube would be a smaller pyramid housing executive activities and completing a rotation once a month.


Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid
Designed in 2004 for Tokyo Japan


The Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid was a proposed project for construction of a massive pyramid over Tokyo Bay in Japan. The structure would be 12 times higher than the Great Pyramid at Giza, and would house 750,000 people. It would be the largest man-made structure on Earth. The pyramid structure would be composed of 55 smaller pyramids stacked five high. Each of these smaller pyramids would be about the size of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.

Interesting Fact: The reason this project can not be built is the design of the Mega-City Pyramids relies on the future availability of super-strong lightweight materials that are currently unavailable.


Ultima Tower
Designed in 1991 for San Francisco California


This design is obviously more of a far fetched vision than a seriously considered project but I wanted to include it in this list because it’s really cool. Architect Eugene Tsui originally conceived the idea of the Ultima Tower as part of a study of the compact urban area of San Francisco. The structure would utilize atmospheric energy conversion by converting the difference in atmospheric pressure at the top and bottom of the structure into electrical power. The Ultima Tower is 500 stories tall (two miles high) and is intended to house one million residents.

Interesting Fact: The structure’s shape is modeled after the tallest structure not made by man– African termite nests.


Palace of Soviets
Designed in 1933 for Moscow Soviet Union

Iofan Palace Of Soviets Square 1933

If the Palace of Soviets was built, it would have become the world’s tallest structure. It was to be built on the site of the demolished Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. A public international contest to design the Palace attracted 272 concepts from architects all over the world. The contest was won by Boris Iofan’s who literally expressed the idea of “Lenin atop the skyscraper” in the most clear form.

Interesting Fact: Construction was actually started on this project in 1937 and was terminated because of the German invasion. In 1942 its steel frame was disassembled for use in fortifications and bridges. Also: The Cathedral was rebuilt in 1995-2000.


Volkshalle (The Great Dome)
Designed around 1930 for Berlin Germany

Albert Speer Dome Domed Hall Hitler Architect2

The Volkshalle (People’s Hall), was a huge monumental building planned by Adolf Hitler and his architect Albert Speer. It was to be the capital’s most important and impressive building in terms of its size and symbolism and the architectural centerpiece of Berlin. Thankfully the Great Dome was never built due to the break out of the war.

Interesting Fact: What makes the Volkshalle even more interesting is the illustration plans (pictured above) show a pedestal with the Nazi eagle figure. The eagle along with the pedestal and just the right shadowing gives an illusion in the form of Hitler’s face and is believed designed to appear only at a particular time of the year.

Contributor: Blogball

  • BA

    I love the concept of The Illinois. It would fit in well with the Chicago skyline.

  • Rinneganleks

    Argh! thought I’d be the first one to post a comment! Ahahah! Palace of the Soviets… Tsk tsk,

  • Diamond_Dragon

    Some Amazing buildings with capital A!
    Would love to see the Palace Of The Soviets be built.
    Looks more than Amazing to me!


    You gotta love a two mile high structure in San Francisco. Anything higher than a one story fortified bunker is in risk of collapse.

  • thedragon23

    They are all very ugly and no. 6 is a human social disaster just waiting to happen. Thank goodness none got off the ground

  • nubyw00tz

    I think no. 8 would be a pretty great building.

  • David

    I really like them all, well bar the “Great Nazi Dome”. I think they would all be really interesting to see built nowadays, although i think the two mile high building in San Francisco would be a bit of an eye sore.

  • JayBe

    I like very much number 2 and 1. (forgett about politics)

    #2 remembers helenistics great monuments like Alexandrian Lighthouse

    #1 In that image I see Old Rome pantheon visited by an army of Action Men

    It’s interesting how such two oposites movements took references from ancien empires. Both have a clear simbology hidden behind.


  • smurff

    Good list – building # 7 and 9 would be mind boggling in those days, taking into account our modern machinery cranes etc that we have today, compared to then. Man O Man lugging u stone and motar that high its unbelievable.

  • MattMarti

    No. 9 reminds me of the Citadel from half life 2
    another great list

  • astraya

    The Sydney Opera House was built after an international architectural competition. Second and third prizes were awarded. I remember attending an exhibition featuring other designs (and also Utzon’s original designs) at the opera house. I can’t remember anything about them, and now can’t find anything on the internet.
    One of the reasons Utzon’s design was chosen was its all-round appearance. Its location means that it can be seen from pretty much every angle, including overhead (eg from buildings and the Sydney Harbour Bridge). Apparently the other designs were quite “square”.
    The problems begin inside. One comedian with an artistic bent once said “Australia has a world-class opera house. Unfortunately the outside is in Sydney, the inside is in Melbourne and the car park is in Adelaide”.

  • SaturnIon

    Cool list.

    Thanks for the book recommendation!

  • D

    Nice job Blogball.

    – Looks like Gaudi was inspired by the temples of Angkor.

    – The Monument to Isaac Newton by Etienne-Louis Boullee is worth checking out, which one can do so, here:

    -H.R. Giger’s Pyramids stationed at the points of a pentagram tunnel system.

    -One wonders if Dubai’s Architectural Wonders will end up looking as layed out on paper. If the full intensity of futuristic design will hold up in reality. Life looks different on the ground.

    -Bucky Fuller’s designs never reached their full compacity as planned, i dont think.

  • dischuker

    you could have added this to each entry

    interesting fact: this building is ugly

    almost all of these are drastically lacking of aesthetics.

  • Ghidoran

    OMG I see Hitler’s face!!!!in no.1

    Anyway, the pyramid interested me. Hopefully it will be built soon. So the Millenium Tower in Japan IS being built?

  • akino

    the pyramid was featured in The Discovery Channel.

    nice list!

  • Some guy

    Pretty sure that tower Tesla was making is worth a mention.

  • jake ryder

    Great List

    Just watched a great documentary on The Volkshalle recently. I think on Discovery.

  • iolanthe_duville

    i guess there will come a time in the future were a city will fit into one building. And maybe by that time, instead of calling them buildings, they will call them as cities. How cool is that? Its like, when someone ask you, “Which city do you live?” …. “Oh me? I live @ the Ultima tower.” Cool.

  • thuss

    this list is just too good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Aaron

    The Palace of the Soviets looks incredible!

  • nygel

    besides two of them they all look pretty cool. Upon opening the two mile tower I noticed that Oakland building. ummm… is that really being built?

  • Chickensoup

    This is maybe one of the most interesting lists in weeks (in my humble opinion)! Gaudi was a genius. To see ‘1 fascinating building that is being built’ in this style check out La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

  • LYS

    What about Sky City 1000? It should be on the list if not lead it!

  • Slipstick

    Shouldn’t the height of #3 be 1000 stories since 1 story = 10 feet? That’s why Frank Lloyd Wright’s project that was 5280 feet had 528 stories.

    While many may deride these as lacking asthetics, I feel that many of them are quite beautiful, especially Antoni Gaudi’s.

  • Ro

    Woah,,,,the Palace of Soviets,if ever made, would be incredible.I rather wish there was a building today,that awesome. It kind of reminds me of the Collosus of Rhodes.

  • I’ve always been intrigued by architecture and sculpture ( they seem intimately related ), so this list was right down my alley!
    Thanks, Blogball, for all the time and research you put into this list. It was more than well worth it.
    Only thing I’d argue with is the Ayn Rand book. I read all of her books between high school and Uni, and really hated them, and her, when I finally got around to researching her life.
    But that is just mho.

  • Ro

    Oh, and thanks Blogball. It was a real treat reading this list; you can’t imagine how my face lit up when I saw the title. Politics aside, all the Nazi architectural plans were simply sumptuous, including #1.

  • Imperialdramon Paladin Mode

    very cool list!

  • Sharki

    Cool list!

    Wow is #8 ugly! Thank God they didn’t build that thing.

  • this is really interesting

  • Cedestra

    Great list, Blogball.
    Personally, the Ultima Tower frightens me. Look at how gigantic it is! It completely dwarfs the Dubai Tower. It just looks so fricken’ bug-like.
    I actually like the Hotel Attraction. Looks very Jetsons to me.
    Oh yeahhhh; I see Hitler’s face, too!
    #6 Reminds me of the old people’s community from a Futurama episode and #4 reminds me of the Tyrell Corporation building from Bladerunner.

  • Flock O’Seagulls

    History Channel had programs on Nos. 1 and 2. Hitler’s vision of his Berlin was interesting–and frightening. Remnants of it are still there, if one knows where to look. As I recall from the program, the ground in Berlin would not have been able to support the weight of the building, and due to the immense size of the dome, condensation inside it would have caused rain–pretty disgusting, if you consider it.

  • jhm

    Ive been waiting for this list and its awesome

  • Stizzy

    No tower of babel? :p

  • Adia

    Those would all be so cool. Especially the cities. I want them to be made. Even number one is beautiful, maybe without the Nazis it would work. Hmph, Nazi’s ruin everything.

  • Cedestra

    I did some wiki-research on EPCOT. Interesting stuff- you can see the watered down version in Celebration, FL.

  • Cedestra

    35. Stizzy: What? Uh, the Tower of Babel was built, and destroyed (so say the sources). I know you’re joking, but it wasn’t particularly bright, was it?

  • Comboio Azul

    The Mega-City Pyramid looks like that gargantuan complex in Blade Runner.

  • Cataline

    While this was technically started, it was not finished and maybe should be added to a follow up list: Pyongyang’s Ryugyon Hotel.

  • Blogball

    Thanks for the comments Listversers! Concerning #33. Flock O’Seagulls, your comment reminded me of when I was researching information on The Great Dome I ran across a recent aerial view of where they were to build it and sitting there now is a huge cylinder that was to test the weight factor involved in building something that massive.
    You can see the photo here

  • astraya

    Cataline: I was thinking about a possible list of unfinished buildings, and about the Ryugyung Hotel in particular. If you ask (South) Koreans what is the tallest building in Korean, none of them say that one. Most of them answer the 63 Building, which was Seoul’s first super-tall building, and is still the most visible, being a) gold-coloured and b) on an island in the Han River. There are now two taller, both in suburban centres and surrounded by other tall buildings. The centre of Seoul is surprisingly medium-rise. There is only one super-building in the centre of Seoul.
    But the tallest building, although unfinished, in Korea is in North Korea. Because of its unfinishedness, the NK’s don’t talk about it, either. It’s removed from official photographs of the Pyongyang cityscape.

  • Mom424

    Great list Blogball; Personally I’m kinda fascinated by the model based on a termite mound. Do you know if any one bothered to figure out if it would in fact support itself?

  • C

    Fascinating list.
    I’m surprised you didn’t include the Tower of Babel.

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  • Blogball
  • astraya

    Blogball: Why not? Were all mature human beings here. A certain scene from “Shrek” springs to mind. Shrek (looking at Lord Farquard’s tower): Do you think he’s trying to compensate for something here? Donkey (uncomprehendingly) Like what?

  • Blogball

    astraya, LOL! I remember that scene very well. I actually did come closer than I admit to including it but I felt guilty that the other buildings on the list would be jealous and develop building envy.

  • diogenes’ dildo

    I know i should probably reply to that #45
    but it seems like ive put my foot in my mouth enuff on this site.

  • badabing

    What about the burj dubai, it’s already the tallest building in the world and it’s not even finished yet.
    What about the new plans for the new ground zero project?
    Why not build the biggest and tallest building, yet the dubai project seems to dwarf it.
    Awesome list!
    Be kind I’m a listuniverse virgin.

  • Lynn in Oregon

    Really interesting list, architectural art and design can be so beautiful. It would be great to see some of these actually built.

    I love the list blogball, but if you were worried about including …ahem…certain designs… you should have left #10 off the list which to me looks like a window display at a porn shop.

  • Stizzy

    Cedestra: Construction was started but it was never finished. It wasn’t destroyed, construction was stopped. And I was actually serious, but even if I were joking, I don’t see how that would make me any less bright than anyone else here.

  • Pete
  • littlemissrock

    I can already see the face of Hitler on the picture.

  • cparker

    What an awesome list.

  • Cataline

    astraya: thanks for the learned response!

  • luckyaz

    i like the palace of soviets, its like some crazy middle earth shit man

  • astraya

    Cataline: I haven’t seen your name here before. If this is your first time or an early time, you may not know that I’m teaching English in Sth Korea, and live about 50 km from the NK border, so I talk about Korea a lot in my postings.

  • Blogball

    Astraya & Cataline the Pyongyang’s Ryugyon Hotel is really something or should I say nothing. I really feel for those people in NK.
    The building gave me an idea for a list called “top 10 white elephants” That hotel would have to be close to the # 1 spot .
    Mom424, I’m ptty sure the Ultuma Tower is a feasible design. You can read more about it here.

  • astraya

    Blogball: I just read on wiki that construction on the Ryugrong Hotel restarted in Apr this year, but no-one seems to know exactly what is being done.

  • jhoyce07

    these building sketches are awesome! i hope to see one very very soon.. ü

  • Blogball

    astraya, kind of off the subject but what are people saying in NK about Kim Yong-Il, do they think he’s dead?

  • Blogball

    Sorry I meant SK

  • phantombrain

    Hey, you should have included the Konark Sun Temple, Orissa, India.

    It is the largest incomplete temple ever built by man! It in its incomplete state is still the largest temple ever built!

    It is an architectural wonder.

  • Joanie Girl

    Im glad none of these were built, Theyre all UGLY

  • Joss

    Hitler’s face in #1 is chilling. Great list!

  • Brickhouse

    That dome with Hitler’s face – very interesting and a bit disturbing all rolled into one.

  • astraya

    Blogball: If SKs are talking Korean, then I don’t know whether they’re talking about NK and Kim JI or not! I don’t think they talk about it/him much. One former student said “There’s nothing we can do about him, so why worry?” The Kims have been running NK for 63 years, so all but the oldest can remember nothing else. Korean TV reported his absence from Republic Day and lunar thanksgiving ceremonies. I get most of my news on the subject from the Sydeny Morning Herald online and the local English-language papers, which are directed towards expats.

  • dr.diogenes

    some of those late 19th century world’s fairs were the shit. meaning somethin else. meaning the alluring end/begining, meaning the early world’s fairs were the shit, ect. but at some point the future caught up.
    anyways the beacon of progress, i shall look into.
    France was the place and then there was St. Petersburg, right?
    Were was that fantastic glass palace?
    no longer.
    a menagerie of artificial extravegance

    so yeh, the crumbling ruins of past become the destinations of the planned out thrill package of the rich.

    The Paris International Colonial Exposition of 1931

  • Denzell


  • SheSue

    Does anyone else feel like you just entered a Star Trek movie? Especially that cloud building that looks like a big blob.

  • Bahar

    What about Zaha Hadids designs? Most of het wonderfull designs arn’t build…

  • itsmekenny

    this list was a really good piece of work! im doing architecture at lawrence tech in MI right now! great list….hope to see more like it in the future!!!!!!!

  • unca

    Terrific list. What a lot of digging (pun intended) you had to do to come up with this. Nice descriptions, especially the interesting facts sections. My wife and I thought about building our own house but decided not to — I’m not surprised it didn’t make it on your list, however.

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  • website designs

    Fascinating! Wish some of these would have been built!

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  • Lautreamont

    Hi there,

    I just published a translation of this article:

    I included original source link for english visitors. I would have just included a link along with a reference to the article, but english is not popular enough in Spain and I really wanted spanish visitors to fully understand this great article. I sincerely hope you don’t mind.


  • Adam

    I’m not a Nazi but I would have loved for the Volkshalle to be built. Would be an amazing dome, biggest ever, they say it would have had it’s own weather inside.

  • Jay Poe

    Here are some others:

    Tokyo Sky City 1000

    X-Seed 4000

    This list is a little old but very interesting.



  • Brandon

    Although I am far from a Nazi-sympathizer, the Volkshalle is simply aw-inspiring. Speer’s architecture is so incredible, it’s a shame that they couldn’t be built, albeit for a different political ruler.

  • Jay

    The house in Robert Heinlein's And He Built a Crooked House… That's what I'd like to build!

  • the ultima looks hella ugly bro

  • Jon

    Great List!!!

  • Usabfb

    I think that this church in Madrid (i think) deserves an honorable mention. It is actually still being built but its taken over 100 years and its still under construction and won't finish for a while.

    • Bryan

      Actually, the building you are thinking of (also designed by Gaudi) is in Barcelona, since he was a Catalan.

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  • flora

    cool fun have fun

  • Felicity Wren

    Just one important point about The Cloud for Liverpool – it was intended to be the new Museum of Liverpool, and all the other uses were additional to that. You are right that lots of people were disgusted with the design, but as an artist living in Liverpool, which has some astonishingly beautiful, yet in its time, hated architecture, I loved Alsop’s proposal, and was very saddened both at the failure but also by the replacement, which is appallingly bad “design”.

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    long time no see trevor if you are still in need of them here is there site
    and details, they have 20% discount now,tell them micky hinopsy said you would sort him out

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