50 Interesting Facts about Popular Buildings

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1German Parliament building

German Parliament building

The German Parliament building has a glass dome above it that people can climb using a spiral ramp. The dome symbolizes that the people are above the government, and the government should be transparent.

2. The Vietnam Memorial was designed by a 21-year-old architecture student named Maya Lin for a class project. She got a B+ despite winning the national competition.

3. Mexico's Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest monument ever constructed on earth, having nearly twice the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza. A pre-classical masterpiece, it was found to be part of a vast complex of interwoven rooms and temples. Excavations are ongoing.

4. Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) in London is leaning over so much it can now be seen with the naked eye. In 4000 years it will be at the same angle as the Tower of Pisa is now.

5. When building the Golden Gate Bridge, the lead structural engineer insisted on the installation of a safety net even though its $130,000 cost was deemed exorbitant. Over 4 years of its construction, the net saved 19 men, who named themselves the “Halfway to Hell Club.”

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6U.S. Bank Stadium

U.S. Bank Stadium

The Minnesota Vikings' new U.S. Bank Stadium which was opened in 2016 cost $1.129 billion to build, which is more than NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto which cost in total $720 million.

7. The tallest building in Harlem, Upper Manhattan, is a 19 story office building completed in 1973. The building has been criticized as a "killer building" from the urban renewal movement of the 1960s that "disfigured" the neighborhood, and as an example of mediocre government architecture.

8. Six months after building a $680,000 custom house with an ocean view, Missouri residents Mark and Brenda Voss found out it was built on the wrong lot.

9. Before the Washington Monument was completed, the tallest structure in the United States was the 234 foot tall Phoenix Shot Tower, where molten lead was dropped from a platform at the top of the tower through a sieve into a vat of cold water at the bottom, forming perfect spheres of shot.

10. The "Loony Gas Building" was the name given to an old Standard Oil plant in 1924 after every single man who worked there was hospitalized for insanity in which 5 people died. The plant was manufacturing a new, breakthrough product named leaded gasoline additive.

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11Iroquois Theater

Iroquois Theater

The Iroquois Theater in Chicago was billed as "Absolutely Fireproof" in advertisements when it opened. It lasted 37 days before being destroyed in what is still the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history, leaving 602 dead and 250 injured.

12. The Empire State Building generates more revenue from the observation deck than all the commercial tenants in the remaining 101 floors combined.

13. The Pentagon building covers 6.5 million square feet (2 times the Empire State Building) and is occupied by 23,000 people, making it the biggest office building in the world. Also, it was designed so that no point in the building is more than a 10-minute walk from another point. Construction took just 16 months.

14. The Aurora Ice Hotel in Alaska was made entirely of ice. Ice walls, ceiling, beds, bar, barstools, even martini glasses were made of ice. It was closed by the fire marshall for not having smoke detectors.

15. St Paul's Cathedral in London can be seen from King Henry's Mound, 16 km (10 miles) away. No building obstructing this view is allowed to be built by law.

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16Roman Pantheon

Roman Pantheon

The Roman Pantheon built in 118 A.D., is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.

17. The tallest free-standing tower in the world, the Tokyo Sky Tree, had its final height chosen solely because of wordplay; several numbers were considered because of their alternate meanings, they ended up choosing 634 meters for "Musashi."

18. The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be scrapped after 20 years. It only survived because the military started using it as a radio tower, intercepting crucial military transmissions during World War 1.

19. The Sydney Opera House actually has terrible acoustics. Edo de Waart, the former chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, once threatened to boycott the building. There is a $202 million project underway to renovate and improve the acoustics.

20. After 10 years of effort and $40 million, the Leaning Tower of Pisa stopped moving in 2001 for the first time in its 800-year history. The tower is now expected to stay stable for at least 200 years.



The Pagoda at Horyuji is the oldest wooden building on the planet. It contains some timbers that came from trees felled around 600 A.D.

22. Traditional Japanese buildings do not use nails or glue. Instead, timbers are connected by elaborate dovetail joints.

23. A small, single-story building (Corporation Trust Center) at 1209 North Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware is the registered home of over 6,500 corporations and 200,000 businesses, such as Google, American Airlines, Apple, GM, Coca-Cola, KFC, Verizon Internet Services, and Deutsche Bank.

24. The Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona has been under construction for over 130 years and it is not expected to be completed at least until 2026, according to the earliest estimates.

25. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is actually just as wide as it is tall. It is 630 feet in height and 630 feet in width. It is also the tallest man-made monument in the United States.

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