IT DIVIDES opinion like no other Scottish landmark. Hailed as an architectural treasure and derided by taxi drivers – the Scottish Parliament building makes an impact on all who see it.
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Now the parliament, which cost more than 430 million, took over seven years to build, and was the source of one of Scotland's longest-running political arguments, has been voted the eighth ugliest building in the world.
The building, completed in 2004, may have attracted more than 1.5 million tourists to Scotland, but has still been called "a bag of nails" by tourist experts who have slated the design.
Giampiero Ambrosi, VirtualTourist.com's general manager, who conducted a poll to the find the least attractive buildings in the world, said: "People either love the Scottish Parliament or hate it. Many believe it has all the charm of a bag of nails.
"Stone, oak and bamboo comprise the buildings that make up the Scottish Parliament. Hopefully the discussions that take place inside the building are more decisive than the ones that take place about it."
The building was designed by the late Catalan architect Enric Miralles, who died of a brain tumour aged 45 – four years before the parliament was completed.
Original estimates suggested that the project would cost about 40 million – it didn't.
Boston's City Hall was voted the world's ugliest building, with Montparnasse Tower in Paris second and the Lucky Shoe Monument of Finland third.
Britain's ugliest building was the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool which came in fourth and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City was fifth. Torres de Colon in Madrid was voted sixth and the Liechtenstein Museum of Fine Arts seventh. The Birmingham Central Library was ninth and the Peter the Great Statue in Moscow was tenth.
Peter Wilson, an architect and director of business development for Napier University's Centre for Timber Engineering, said that the parliament building was ridiculous.
He said: "Everyone from taxi drivers to media commentators still refer to the 'bamboo poles' in front of the MSP office windows and over the entrance canopy. The latter – actually made of laminated oak – have just been expensively replaced because the originals weathered very badly, very quickly. Bamboo might arguably have done the job better."
George Reid, Holyrood's first presiding officer, said the building displayed "extraordinary architectural ambition" when it won the Stirling Prize for architecture in 2005.
But the independent MSP Margo MacDonald said the building should have topped the ugly poll. She said: "I think this is a marvellous result. We might have come first. Unfortunately it's no laughing matter when you consider the amount spent on maintenance, refurbishment and general running costs of the building."
A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: "Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
"However with more than 1.5 million visitors and nine architectural awards, including the Stirling Prize, it is clear many people also highly rate Holyrood's design."