World's Fair

Engineering Design Failure

Eight choices for the best example of a design flaw.

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#2

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#3

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#4

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#5

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#6

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#7

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#8

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These were forwarded to me by a colleague, who had them forwarded to her by a friend, who, guess what, had them forwarded from somewhere else. I thus do not know their origin. The pictures are either (a) legitimate, (b) fabricated, or (c) doctored versions of legitimate things. I don’t know.

Comments

  1. #1 dean
    March 20, 2009

    At least one – the double urinal – has been on failblog, but no real source was given there either.

  2. #2 Jen
    March 20, 2009

    WOW These are too funny

  3. #3 G.E. Wilker
    March 20, 2009

    I think the worst would be #4, the stairway to nowhere. The others are stupid, but not actively dangerous (except for the headsmacking possibilities of the escalator on #1). However, it’s all too easy to imagine someone rushing up to cross the pedestrian bridge, not looking where they’re going, and taking a twenty-foot fall off the end of the stairs.

    [sarcasm] That ATM would be perfectly useful if they just installed some steps! (Except to the wheel-chair bound, but who cares about them?) [/sarcasm] And the streetlight probably works fine as a streetlight, even if they could have chosen a better place for the pole.

  4. #4 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 20, 2009

    #1 might just be the perspective of the camera. I can’t tell.

    #3 is so weird that there has to be some explanation. I don’t think anyone was intended to make a partial staircase. Possibly there used to be a staircase there and then they decided they didn’t want one for some reason?

    #8 seems similar to #3 especially because the building looks old. There may have been a door there that was later covered up.

  5. #5 Who Cares
    March 20, 2009

    Doesn’t seem like most are photo shopped or someone put in a lot of time to get reflections, shadows and such correct. The exception being the ATM one.

    The third seems to me more like art then an error.
    The fourth seems to be taken on a disused train station in the Netherlands.
    The fifth, who build a building with balconies at THAT point?

    I’d have to go with the first (if that isn’t taken at the start of placing the escalator)

  6. #6 Arikia
    March 20, 2009

    LOL! Awesome. Total fails.

  7. #7 Eric Lund
    March 20, 2009

    #3 and #6 look like the results of remodeling on the cheap–especially #6 which is presumably (given the Cyrillic lettering) in either Eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union. I wouldn’t necessarily agree that they were design flaws.

    #4: Good call on that being a disused train station. Perhaps there is a barrier at the foot of the stairs, which we cannot see from this angle, and at the other end of the bridge, which is out of view. So again, not necessarily a design flaw. It could also be that this photo was taken during removal of the bridge–if so, it makes sense that they would take out the bridge first and then the stairways.

    #5: The architect screwed up, but props for a creative workaround. The building is obviously still under construction, so I will assume the lamppost was there first.

    #2 is silly, but probably at least as much a communication screwup as an engineering screwup.

    #1, #7, and #8 look like genuine design flaws without mitigating circumstances. #7 and #8 are merely silly. #1, unless it’s a Photoshop job or a conscious effort to deceive through perspective, has to win the prize for being dangerous.

  8. #8 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 20, 2009

    Sorry, I meant #6 when I wrote #8.

  9. #9 Ella Mental
    March 20, 2009

    Nothing like a pedantic concern, Eric…can they just say “redesign” flaw, then?

  10. #10 eddie
    March 22, 2009

    I think you can roughly translate the sign in #6 as “Theatre of the Absurd“.

    As with #3, there was probly (going to be) a door there at some point.

    #5 and #7 are genuine fubars, I think; designers just not looking where they are going.

  11. #11 llewelly
    March 22, 2009

    I’ve seen variants of #2, #4, and #6 in real life several times. In my experience, #6 is usually the result of a commercial building being closed between renters, or being remodeled. In the case of #2, the thing in front of the camera is usually a more recent addition. (And in at least one case, the housing no longer contained a camera – something that is difficult to determine from a picture like #2.)

    On this topic – the community college I went to before transferring to a ‘real’ university built a new Sciences and Humanities building shortly before I started taking classes there. As I was working construction at the site at the time it was built, I saw first hand that the basement floor was originally designed and built with no women’s restroom. Since there were classrooms and computer labs on that floor, somebody raised a fuss, walls got torn down and rebuilt, and plumbing got done. However, most of the electrical wiring was never redone – which made the outlets for the computers in the computer labs dreadfully inconvenient.
    At the same time, the women’s restroom in the new library building was originally laid out like a second men’s restroom – with two urinals. These were replaced about a year after it opened.

  12. #12 Ship
    March 24, 2009

    I think #1 only looks flawed due to perspective. #s 3 and 6 look like they may have been functional at some point, but the structures have since been modified.

    The rest are pretty rich. I think #2 is my favorite.

  13. #13 eddie
    June 5, 2009

    The mad thing about #2 is that the screen was meant to display what the camera could see. ;)

  14. The human stupidity doesn’t know when to stop. After all, the designers can only laugh but they will remember those projects for years. “S**t happens”

  15. #15 unicor 77
    ypur dad
    September 21, 2012

    neards

  16. #16 unicor 77
    ks
    September 21, 2012

    neard

  17. #17 dustie koehler
    November 8, 2012

    this is amazing

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