Buildings reduced to rubble in 2017

Written by Katy Wong, CNN

Last year, was a record-breaker for skyscrapers. Globally, 144 towers more than 200 meters tall were built — more than in any other year, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

But while new towers kept topping out, some historic architecture was being reduced to rubble. India’s Hall of Nations, for example, built to celebrate the country’s 25 years of independence, was demolished to make way for a new convention center. In Belgium, a fairytale castle was demolished after it became too expensive to keep, while an iconic mosque fell victim to being located in a conflict zone.

CNN takes a look at some of the best buildings we lost in 2017.

The Great Mosque of al-Nuri, Mosul, Iraqi

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The Great Mosque of al-Nuri


Its leaning minaret had made it landmark for decades. But aerial photographs released last year by the Iraq military showed that the Great Mosque of al-Nuri had been destroyed. The U.S. and Iraqi government claimed ISIS blew up the mosque as troops moved to retake the city. The UN Human Rights Council said such an act could be considered a war crime.
The mosque was built in 1172 by one of the great military commanders in Islamic history, Nur al-din al-Zangi. He represented the zenith of Islamic power across a huge region in the late 12th century — and was someone usually admired by jihadists. Ironically, ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, chose this mosque as the place to declare his envisaged Caliphate.

The Hall of Nations, New Delhi, India

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India’s Hall of Nations

Credits: MIT Libraries, Rotch Visual Collections. Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

The halls built at the sprawling Pragati Maidan convention center, to celebrate 25 years of Indian independence, were regarded by many as architectural landmarks. The site’s most iconic building, The Hall of Nations, was inaugurated in 1972 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and had been designed by Raj Rewal, who built the World Bank in New Delhi and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Indian institute of Architects in 1989.

It was one of the largest space-frame structures in the world. But none of the halls were deemed heritage buildings and, in May, the bulldozers rolled in, to many Delhi residents’ outrage. The area will become an exhibition center.

Robin Hood Gardens, London, United Kingdom

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Robin Hood Gardens

Credits: View Pictures/UIG/Getty Images. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Completed in 1972, this Brutalist council estate was a pioneering experiment in social design by married architects Alison and Peter Smithson. The estate boasted noise-reducing features, while its elevated walkways were dubbed “streets in the sky” and aimed to foster the mixing of neighbors.

Whether the estate achieved its goals is debatable — it was hugely divisive. Despite protests from international architects Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid, in 2015, approval was given to demolish Robin Hood Gardens. Beforehand, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London acquired a three-story section to joins its world-renowned architecture collection.

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, United States

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Georgia Dome

Credits: Ken Levine/Getty Images . Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Built in 1992, the Georgia Dome was the only facility in the world to host the Olympics, Super Bowl and Final Four. When it opened, it was the largest covered stadium in the world and featured the world’s largest cable-supported fabric roof. More than 1,400 events took place at the Georgia Dome in its short life span, bringing in 39 million guests.

In 2010, however, plans were announced to build a new stadium with a retractable roof just south of the Georgia Dome. In the dome’s place will stand a hotel, parking and green space.

Nara Dreamland, Japan

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Nara Dreamland

Credits: JordyMeow/Creative Commons. Romain Veillon

When Nara Dreamland opened in 1961, Kunizo Matsuo believed he was creating Japan’s answer to Disneyland. While Mickey Mouse was notably absent, his facility had a wooden roller coaster and a Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. When Disney and Universal Studios opened parks in Osaka and Tokyo, however, it struggled to compete.

In 2006 it closed its doors, becoming an eerie wasteland of withered dreams popular with urban explorers. An Osaka-based real estate company purchased the land, and the park was demolished at the end of last year.

Tower 2 at Kellingley Colliery, North Yorkshire, England

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Tower 2 at Kellingley Colliery

Credits: Danny Lawson/PA Images/Getty Images. Danny Lawson/PA Images/Getty Images

Known as “The Big K,” extraction of coal began at this site in 1965 and the Kellingley Colliery soon became the largest coal mine in Britain. It hired more than 2,300 miners in the 1990s, and its two main shafts were each almost 800 meters deep. One took the miners to and from the ground, the other hauled up the coal.

It closed in 2015, due to a decline in UK coal production. Its subsequent demolition on a cold November morning marked the end of deep mining in England, and was somberly attended by many former miners. The site will be turned into a manufacturing and distribution space.

Kosciuszko Bridge, New York, United States

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Kosciuszko Bridge

Credits: Richard Levine/Alamy Stock Photo. Alamy Stock Photo

Originally called the Meeker Avenue Bridge, after the swing bridge it replaced, this giant steel structure had connected Brooklyn and Queens for nearly 80 years when it succumbed to a controlled steel explosion in October. A year after it opened, it had been renamed for Polish military leader Tadeusz Kosciuszko, to honor his efforts in the American Revolutionary War.

Unlike some other structures lost in 2017, this one will likely not be missed. Designed to carry just 10,000 cars a day, it had become a traffic black spot. To add insult to injury, the $555 million lightweight bridge that replaced it was finished before the original Kosciuzko came down, and so witnessed the fall of its predecessor.

White Building, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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White building

Credits: Jack Kurtz/ZUMA Wire/ TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images

Between 1953 and 1970, Phnom Penh’s population tripled from 370,000 to one million. King Sihanouk subsequently announced the need for low-cost housing. Among the response, was the White Building. Built in the 1960s, it was an iconic example of New Khmer Architecture and the first attempt to offer a multi-story lifestyle to lower- and middle-class Cambodians. It housed more than 2,500 residents including musicians and civil servants.

In recent years, the building was declared unsafe and, after 492 flat owners agreed to sell up, it was finally demolished. Luxury apartments will be built in its place.

Sony Building, Tokyo, Japan

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Sony Building

Credits: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg/Getty Images. Ginza Sony Park Project

Opened in 1966 and designed by Japanese architect Yoshinobu Ashihara — who also built the Komazawa Olympic Gymnasium, famed for its tall pagoda-shaped control tower — the building in the heart of Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza region was a bold example of Postmodern architecture.

In 2017, the electronics giant began knocking down its flagship store — the process is still underway. In its place will stand 700 square feet of decking and trees that will provide the dense district with much-needed public space until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. A new Sony skyscraper will open in 2022.

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