Hotel Terminus


Esquire's pick for the Worst Building in the History of Mankind:

A picture doesn't lie—the one-hundred-and-five-story Ryugyong Hotel is hideous, dominating the Pyongyang skyline like some twisted North Korean version of Cinderella's castle. Not that you would be able to tell from the official government photos of the North Korean capital—the hotel is such an eyesore, the Communist regime routinely covers it up, airbrushing it to make it look like it's open—or Photoshopping or cropping it out of pictures completely.

Even by Communist standards, the 3,000-room hotel is hideously ugly, a series of three gray 328-foot long concrete wings shaped into a steep pyramid. With 75 degree sides that rise to an apex of 1,083 feet, the Hotel of Doom (also known as the Phantom Hotel and the Phantom Pyramid) isn't the just the worst designed building in the world—it's the worst-built building, too. In 1987, Baikdoosan Architects and Engineers put its first shovel into the ground and more than twenty years later, after North Korea poured more than two percent of its gross domestic product to building this monster, the hotel remains unoccupied, unopened, and unfinished.

Update: Peter Hitchens wrote about the abandoned hotel in the Daily Mail last October:

Brooding over the deranged cityscape is the ugliest building in the universe, a 1,000ft pyramid, already a ruin though it has never been finished and never will be, perhaps because the money has run out, perhaps because it is so jerry-built that nobody would ever have dared stay in it.

Official guides pretend not to notice it though it is by far the tallest structure in Pyongyang.

This symbol of overweening ambition is by a strange coincidence the exact shape and size of the Ministry of Truth, the chief source of official lies in George Orwell's prophecy of just such a state, and just such a city, in 1984.

It is almost as if North Korea's rulers have taken Orwell's novel as a handbook rather than a warning.

But where Orwell's ministry was a glittering white, the abandoned Ryugyong Hotel is a dingy dun-brown, its hundreds of glassless windows like sockets gazing at what its maker, the Great Leader Kim Il Sung, has wrought.