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Call for nominations: ugliest city hall in the world

Many Torontonians quietly lament the architectural quirkiness of the city hall towers that give form and function to our collective civic identity.

It is a generally unspoken — and uncomfortable — truth that that the convex-shaped twin structures strike an icky resemblance to gigantic bathroom urinals, complete with a circular pod structure at their base that echoes — intentionally or otherwise — a urinal cake.

But take heart, Toronto.

Everything is relative.

Place our pee collectors beside some of the world’s other questionable city hall designs and they can suddenly take on a kind of Sistine-Chapel-like majesty.

So in a spirit of civic pride and indiscriminate finger pointing at others, World Weekly blog is launching an international search for the Ugliest City Halls in the World.

We seek nominations that illustrate ill-conceived design idiocy, bold architectural vision gone terribly wrong and avant garde experiments that ended in spectacular, head-shaking flame-outs.

Each of us, at some point, has stood at the foot of some surreal, Dali-like municipal mistake, head tilted to one side, searching for some hint of logic or beauty in the lines.

We have quietly puzzled over the design approval meeting at which this monstrosity, an artist’s rendering projected on a large screen before politicians, planners, architects and citizens, was green lit to the tune of millions of dollars in public money.

And we have imagined the gleeful high-fives, back-slaps and newspaper quotations that followed featuring congratulatory phrases like “organic minimalism” and “aesthetic emotion.”

Let us now exact our revenge on behalf of all inhabitants of decimated city centre landscapes.

To get things started, we hereby submit for your consideration the city hall building in Satu Mare, a northern Romanian city dominated by stark, communist-era greyness.

At its core, the so-called “Administrative Palace” is a towering, 97 -metre visual offence surrounded by a vast open public space which was void of any actual humans during a recent sunny, summertime lunch hour — for good reason.

Designed by architect Nicolae Porumbescu, the style here is described with refreshing candour as “brutalist” in architectural parlance, referring to a kind of fortress-like, concrete block horror.

It is a place where civic hope goes to die.

So, beat that. To submit your nominations, please include a photograph of the building and a brief description of why you believe it is a contender. Email your photos to us here





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I think you'll struggle to find even 10 people who hate Toronto's city hall.

This isn't the ugliest city hall by any means. In fact it cost $72 million to retrofit by one of the world's foremost architects. The crime here is that the City of Ottawa opted to give up this building...

I have passed Toronto City Hall many hundreds of times, have prowled around on its ramps and visited inside and it never once occurred to me the building looks like a urinal. More so it looks like a flying saucer with walls around it. At the very least it may resemble a Star Trek urinal. Does one of those star ships have urinals or do they vaporize unwanted bio stuff? Maybe you should switch up your view and include TCH in a story about one of the prettiest city halls.

Of course, such a ridiculous opinion about our very striking and attractive city hall gets published without a byline, in an anonymous "blog".

Are you suggesting the Old City Hall was an architectural marvel?

Boston is often cited as having the ugliest City Hall of any major city. Both Toronto and Boston attempted to make bold statements with brutalist city halls in the 1960s - Toronto's lucked out with Viljo Revell's design and more humane civic square.

Boston City Hall is an ugly Brutalist structure (it looks much like the former Sears HQ on Jarvis): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_City_Hall

At the other end of the country, Trail BC has a real clunker. Add more bricks!

The Satu Mari city hall looks like a futuristic fortress from a sci-fi movie. Ugly and brutalist indeed.

Mississauga's City Hall looks like a 19th century prison.

I want to take a wrecking ball to Mississauga's city hall.

I live in Satu Mare, here the above mentioned monstrosity was constructed in the seventies. 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.
Oh, and a Canadian citizen too, I have lived in Toronto, and seen the city hall. It is functional, but most of all iconic. I liked it a lot.

This is only the city hall. In the city there is the Pannonia hotel too, in the old city center, which was a gorgeous building, won even an international price for its beauty. Beside this, in the old city center you can find many old buildings which were gorgeous in their time but thanks to our leaders almost all of them were "consumed by time".
The new city center, of which you can see a part on the photo is a real concrete prison.
Satu Mare could be a beautiful city with large tourism, thanks to it's location, surroundings and beauties, but until we have this kind of leaders our future will look more like a disaster

One only look south of the border for the largest, most hideous statement of excess: Buffalo city hall. Built when Buffalo was important (pre St Lawrence seaway) it now looks ridiculous in size and scale compared to the rest of the city.

This is the eye of Sauron, in Mordor !

Really? You want to prove your city hall is not that ugly by trying to compare it to other even uglier ones?

Fool among kings or king among fools?

Mississauga City Hall looks like someone with children's blocks designed it.

I love Toronto's new city hall, both inside and out. I feel like there is a positive work energy created between the towers, with windows facing only one way towards the other tower. The entire area including Nathan Philips's square has a good feel because of the way the city hall building interjects non-offensively into the public space (to make this point imagine a more standard glass tower in its place; it wouldn't feel as human).

Toronto's old city hall, by comparison, uses perhaps the ugliest stone building material ever, being gnarly stone with pink and purplish hues, arranged in clashing patterns. If you can see past this, you'll notice that the building showcases the worst of pre-modern architecture; totally non-functional and ornate without being beautiful.

I think it's been torn down now, but the Rotes Rathaus in East Berlin was a modernist nightmare, and for many years it was left as a ruin.

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