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6 Architecture Tricks For April Fools' Day

While it may seem like developers are more concerned these days with high returns over highly innovative architecture, we are using April Fools' Day as a chance to celebrate the structures that think outside the glass box. From glass and linear trickery to the building that vanishes, these structures would make M.C. Escher and David Copperfield proud.

"Sinking Ship" Garage, Seattle, Wash.

Seattle's Sinking Ship parking garage

A visit to Seattle’s Pioneer Square might leave you scratching your head as to why the local parking garage resembles the final minutes of "Titanic." Originally home to the lavish Occidental Hotel, the site was razed in 1961 during the first stage of urban renewal to make way for parking. A knee-jerk responsive neighborhood preservation campaign halted any further wrecking balls, but the "sinking ship" garage remains wedged into a Seattle hillside. The garage’s architects, Gudmund Berge and Gilbert Mandeville, added a top railing of arched pipes to give a cornice they felt would make the garage fit in more with its surrounding neighbors. 

Manulife Place, Ottawa, Canada

The 16-story Manulife Place in Ottawa is home to the financial firm of the same name and has won several architecture and environmental awards from Canada’s Building Owners and Managers Association. Visitors who look up before they walk through Manulife’s front doors might be visually perplexed at the trick the tower’s design plays. The building’s reflective glass windows and multiple jutting corners keep it vague as to where exactly Manulife begins and ends.

Port 1010, Melbourne, Australia

The Australian customs and border agents who work in Melbourne’s Port 1010 might get a little cross-eyed from coming face-to-face with Münsterberg’s illusion each day. While the building’s lines might not seem parallel, they are — the staggered boxes are just playing an optical trick on you. Despite any headaches it may have caused its tenants, Port 1010 received a prestigious Commercial Architecture Award in 2007 at the Victorian Architecture Awards and is one of the first buildings in the area to receive an Australian Excellence rating by Green Star, Australia’s version of LEED.

Rumah Terbalik, Sabah, Malaysia

Sabah on the island of Borneo is best known for its natural beauty and hosting the first season of "Survivor." Since 2012, it has taken a turn for "StrangerThings" with its Rumah Terbalik. (That is Malay for “upside down house”) While you will not find Winona Ryder or Eleven fleeing the Demogorgon here, you will encounter a modern home with everything dangling above you — including the car.

Dancing House, Prague, Czech Republic

The nontraditional Vlado Mulunić and Frank Gehry-designed Dancing House stands out amid Prague’s Baroque and Gothic architecture. Home to insurance company Nationale-Nederlanden, Dancing House was born from the company’s intent to create an iconic building in the Czech city. With practically an unlimited budget, the architects used 99 concrete panels of varied shapes and sizes to give the building its twisting structure, which is supposed to resemble Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. CBRE Global Investors last sold the building in 2013 for €13.3M.  

Tower Infinity, Seoul, South Korea

Construction has yet to commence on this proposed tower in Seoul, but it will certainly play eye games on those who can (or cannot) see it when it opens. The approved 1,500-foot tower will use an elaborate camera and LED façade system to project images in real time on the side of the building. When set to a precise illumination level, a light system will be able to make the tower “vanish” from most vantage points. Developers have assured the city the building’s technology will still enable it to be visible to airplanes landing at the nearby Incheon Airport.