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The world's ugliest city halls: Our readers vote


The architectural beauty that kicked it all off: the city hall in Satu Mare, Romania.

Our recent call-out for nominations honouring the most visually offensive municipal architecture produced some scathing — and entertaining — reviews.

Boston was a critical favourite for what one reader called "an ugly brutalist structure" that resembles Toronto's equally prison-like former Sears headquarters on Jarvis St.

Buffalo's city hall also made the architectural "don't" list, labelled by one contributor as "the largest, most hideous statement of excess ... Built when Buffalo was important (pre St. Lawrence seaway), it now looks ridiculous in size and scale compared to the rest of the city."

Buffalo's "hideous statement of excess"

Closer to home, Mississauga city hall was lambasted by one reader for looking like "a 19th-century prison." Said another of this local attempt at municipal majesty: "I want to take a wrecking ball to Mississauga's city hall."

Mississauga City Hall
Mississauga city hall: Time for the wrecking ball?

Misguided civic eyesores were noted in smaller cities, as well,  with B.C.'s Trail logging a vote as "a real clunker." Note the evocative symbolism carved out of innovative design features here.  

Trail city hall
Our own nomination for the world's ugliest city hall — a pain-in-the-eyeball structure in Satu Mare, Romania — garnered support from readers, one of whom called it "a futuristic fortress from a sci-fi movie. Ugly and brutalist indeed."

"I live in Satu Mare," wrote one World Daily reader. "The above-mentioned monstrosity was constructed in the '70s. I had a German architect friend over, and he described the style as Stalin-barock. It is truly one of the many shameful buildings staining the city."


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Are you kidding me...Buffalo's city hall is awesome. Sure it's in excess now...but it's surely not out of place when this is just down the street


Lets not fail to mention King City's city hall, which is located in a strip mall shared by Pizza Pizza- such an uninspired building for such a beautiful community.

The reader who sent in Buffalo's city hall should take a look inside. It's an art deco masterpiece, with handsome materials and beautiful finishes and ornaments throughout the central foyer and main floor

Mississauga's city hall does not belong on that list. WOnder if Christopher Hume had anything to do with that. Toronto's city hall and it's concrete backside certainly isn't a beauty either.

What about the world's most beautiful city halls?

Buffalo City Hall is a Deco treasure. Haters just hate on the city, and that reflects ugly on them.

Buffalo City hall is beautiful. This is quite a misguided assessment.

I quite like Buffalo's city hall even if it is "excessive" its attractive. Mississauga's city hall looks more like a mall to me. Small towns don't have much to spend on their city halls so its no wonder they're not architectural beauties.

Buffalo's City Hall??? It's one of the few beautiful things in that city!

It's Art Deco - an architectural style that was supposed to be bold, luxurious, and excessive (think Chrysler Tower, Empire State Building, RC Harris Filtration Plant, College Park). It'd be like calling the Colosseum an "excessive monstrosity" for Rome because the city's power collapsed 1600 years ago.

Architecture is a great marker of when a city was at it's pinnacle - Paris in the 1800s under Napoleon, London from the 1800s until the Great Depression, Dublin's streets of Edwardian housing, NYC skyscrapers from the beginning of the 20th century and on, and Toronto from the 1960s on. Buffalo's city hall proves it's once major stature with the ambitiousness of it's civil works (it also has a neat mural inside about US/Canada trade to boot).

I remember before Mississauga City Hall was built,they had a huge model which they showed of at various comunity events. Everyone thought it was just a bad model. It was bang on, the city hall looked just like it. Even though their is a brick factory in Mississauga they bought the bricks from the US. The over kill inside with marble is something to behold. Strangly though the mayors office is ver modest.

Every movement goes through phases: introduction, growth, refinement, overuse, destruction. The elegance and lightness of the Empire state and Chrysler buildings cannot be compared with the massiveness of Buffalo City Hall. Slapping some tiles on the crown and overdoing the interior do not art deco make. Not only is BCH a disaster in terms of scale and proportions it also heralded the overuse and the death of the art deco movement. Standing in front of the Empire you'd never know you were in front of a former tallest building in the world. Standing in front of BCH you can't not know this huge thing is looming over you. (and why did they tint the concrete to look like sandstone? Sandstone is not an upstate NY material!?)
It's ugly from afar, it's ugly up close, it's tacky on the inside. That's why I submitted it....

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