This Alabama High-Rise has been Named One of the Ugliest Buildings in the Entire Country

Alabama boasts numerous stunning and historic landmarks, including the Alabama State Capitol, the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. However, not every architectural gem graces the state. One notable example is Mobile’s Government Plaza, a 12-story structure housing the city hall, county courthouse, and various offices. Surprisingly, this building has earned the dubious distinction of being labeled one of the ugliest in the nation by a travel website. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the controversial history and design of Government Plaza and explore why it has garnered such a negative reputation.

The History and Design of Government Plaza

Constructed in 1994 at a cost of $73 million, Government Plaza aimed to consolidate city and county government functions. Designed by the architectural firm KPS Group, responsible for projects like the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex and the Huntsville Museum of Art, the building comprises a 325-foot circular tower, a southward-extending rectangular wing, and a westward-extending triangular wing. Clad in red brick and gray metal panels, the building features a prominent glass atrium at its center, a helipad atop, and an underground parking garage.

Inspired by postmodernism, a design style emerging in the 1970s and 1980s, Government Plaza incorporates elements from various historical periods and cultures. This architectural approach embraces playful and ironic forms and colors, evident in buildings like the Portland Building, Piazza d’Italia, and the AT&T Building.

The Criticism and Controversy of Government Plaza

Since its completion, Government Plaza has faced widespread criticism for both its appearance and functionality. Terms like “ugly,” “bland,” “boring,” and even “prison-like” have been used to describe it. Common complaints include its perceived excessive size, mismatched colors and materials, and a confusing and inefficient layout.

Beyond aesthetic concerns, the building has grappled with issues such as leaks, mold, asbestos, faulty elevators, and security breaches. Legal disputes over ownership, maintenance, and renovation have further tarnished its reputation, with critics viewing it as a symbol of government incompetence and corruption.

The Future and Potential of Government Plaza

The future of Government Plaza remains uncertain, with officials contemplating options ranging from selling and demolishing to renovating the building. Each option presents challenges, given the building’s complex legal status, low market value, and high maintenance costs.

Despite widespread criticism, some see potential in Government Plaza. Supporters appreciate its expansive and convenient government service space, distinctive design, and historical and cultural significance as a representation of the postmodern era.

Suggestions for improvement include updating facilities, enhancing landscaping and public art, and embracing the building’s quirky style to foster a sense of pride in the community.


While Government Plaza in Mobile may be divisive, it undeniably holds a unique place in the city’s identity. Whether viewed as an eyesore or a symbol of historical significance, this controversial building cannot be easily ignored.

Leave a Comment