In an anecdote straight out of Final Destination: Architectural Terror (coming 2016), Austrian newspaper Die Presse and Dezeen report that a nearly 200-pound chunk of concrete came crashing onto the portico of a new Zaha Hadid building in Vienna. And this isn't the first time.
Die Presse reports that an 80 kilogram—or more than 176 pounds—chunk of concrete fell off the building on Friday. No one was injured, though the building houses the busy library of the Vienna University of Economics and Business. It turns out this isn't the first time concrete slabs have fallen off the building, either. Not long after it opened, in July last year, a four by eight foot slab of reinforced concrete cascaded off the facade.
Image: O Palsson/CC
Here's how a 31-year-old student described the situation to the Kurier at the time:
After I saw the plate lying on the ground, I have shaken another. The came loose before me. In the future I will refrain from the facade and be vigilant when I go to the entrance.
Good call, buddy!
This actually isn't a terribly surprising—or rare—development. The irony of high-price, avant-garde architecture is that to actually build these unusual buildings, contractors often resort to unprecedented construction techniques. There's been a rash of major problems—and lawsuits—stemming from poor or fault detailing on well-known projects over the past few years.
Just look at Santiago Calatrava, whose spindly, bone-like buildings have spurred multiple lawsuits alleging horrifying construction quality over the past few years; or Frank Gehry, whose famously jumbled Stata Center, which MIT sued Gehry for over cracks, mold, leaks, and poor drainage just three years after it opened. It's a pretty unsurprising, given the physics at play in some of these structures, but that doesn't make it defensible.
The school in Vienna says it's preparing to release a study of the facade this week—in the meantime, they've blocked off the area below the overhang. [Dezeen; Die Presse]
Lead image: Steve Silverman/CC