20 Fenchurch Street
London's 20 Fenchurch Street office building was completed in 2014 by Hong Kong-based company Lee Kum Kee in a USD 1.8 billion deal. Immediately, the design of the building attracted much criticism, being considered one of the ugliest modern constructions in Great Britain, often nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie. Beyond the appearance, however, the skyscraper revealed a serious issue. Due to the concave curvature of the glass facade, the sun's rays reflected six times stronger, with the resulting heat so strong that it melted not only the parked cars but also the asphalt. A journalist even managed to fry an egg during a live report, using only the heat generated by the building. To solve the problem, it was necessary to install panels, the cost of which amounted to about 14 million dollars.
The Citigroup Center skyscraper in New York's Manhattan district, in turn, has an eventful story. It was built in 1977, but just a year later, Princeton student Diane Hartley discovered that it had a fundamental problem: design engineers had not considered that the stability of the building could be affected by the wind intensity in its corners. They had only calculated the force the wind would strike with perpendicularly. Thus, this could have caused the collapse of the building. However, in parallel with its collapse, a domino effect would have been created, which could have caused the destruction and even collapse of the surrounding buildings, triggering a disaster of proportions. Another threat came at the same time from Hurricane Ella, which was expected to hit the city and could have destroyed the building. In order not to cause panic, the authorities decided to entrust the consolidation works to a small team of engineers, who also used welded steel plates to strengthen the structure of the building. Hurricane Ella eventually bypassed New York, and the story remained well hidden for 17 years, eventually being revealed by engineer William James LeMessurier, to whom his student Diane Hartley had initially pointed out the design error.
Stuttgart 21 is another project that caused huge problems. Initially, it served as a railway terminal in Germany, but the government decided to turn it into a transit station, part of a trans-European 1,500-kilometer railway to unite a number of important cities: Paris, Stuttgart, Munich, Vienna, and Bratislava. Originally announced in 1994, the project was launched 16 years later, in the winter of 2010, with a deadline for 2019. As for investments, they had been set at USD 5.4 billion. Over time, however, things have changed radically, due to two major, unforeseen problems. First of all, in order to connect the terminal with the already existing network, it was necessary to build 60 kilometers of tunnels. But due to the type of soil in the area, which swells when it comes in contact with water, the mission of the designers has become extremely cumbersome. But that was only the beginning of the problems. The next obstacle was the presence of a lizard-protected species in the work area, and the only way construction could continue was to relocate them, which involved huge costs. The deadline for completion of the works has been extended until 2025, and the total costs are estimated to be at least double those initially announced.
Berlin Brandenburg Airport
When the construction of Berlin Brandenburg Airport began in 2006, the estimated cost was USD 2.4 billion and the estimated date of entry into operation was 2011. The initial plans were to be changed several times over time. The first problem arose in 2010 when one of the companies involved in the project went bankrupt. Subsequently, several irregularities in fire standards were discovered. The cooling pipes do not comply with the safety measures either, as they are not thermally insulated. It was thus necessary to replace them, and for this, they resorted to the demolition of the walls, which brought major additional costs. To date, USD 8.3 billion have been invested, three times the cost of initial estimates. In addition, to prevent the risk of bankruptcy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely affected the airport industry, final costs are likely to be even higher.
Originally called the Kingdom Tower, Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia was planned to become a success of the size of the famous Burj Khalifa. The original construction plans aimed to extend it to a height of one kilometer, with a deadline for 2018, work starting in 2013. Four years later, when only a third of the construction was completed, the government launched a movement in which it arrested several personalities (princes, ministers, businessmen), including one of the main investors – Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, the works being stopped until 2020. Subsequently, a new crisis would delay the completion of the building: the COVID-19 pandemic. The losses would amount to at least USD 1 billion if the project were to be abandoned.