Recent architecture news has been dominated by the story of the destruction of the much hyped, Rem Koolhaas-designed Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Tourist Center in Beijing, brought down by fireworks from a Chinese New Year celebration at the even more celebrated CCTV tower next door. The story got popular design blob CURBED thinking – if one "starchitect" project has met such a dramatic and untimely end, there must be others. From fires to floods to (yes!) Martha Stewart, these highlights from their list of disasters reads like a who’s who of the top names in modern architecture, past and present. Fire also completely gutted the gorgeous Vila NM, a modern masterpiece of a single family home designed by Ben van Berkel and UN Studio. Plano, Illinois’ Farnsworth House, designed by the legendary Mies Van Der Rohe, floods nearly every four years.
Paul Rudolph’s famous Umbrella House in Sarasota, Florida, had its roof ripped off by Hurricane Alma, while Hurricane Katrina blasted Frank Gehry’s Ohr/O’Keefe Museum of Art addition in Biloxi, Mississippi – a project that has now been resumed. Unfortunately, Gehry makes our list twice – his Stata Center at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts has a precipitation problem, and the university is suing the architect for constructing a building that is not watertight. However, the strangest architectural disaster title has to go to Gordon Bunshaft’s Travertine House in New York. When renovations stalled, domestic diva Martha Stewart somehow acquired the travertine for her own project, leaving the original house to be demolished. Which was not, as she might say, a good thing.