EU Parliament's Buildings So Confusing They Make People Cry

Politicians complain they're often late to meetings due to disorienting layouts
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2014 1:19 PM CST
EU Parliament's Buildings So Confusing They Make People Cry
People walk the stairs of the European Parliament building in Brussels on Nov. 17, 2014. The European Parliament has three places of work: Brussels, the city of Luxembourg, and Strasbourg in France.   (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

Hidden elevators, spiral staircases that twist into each other, and clocks throughout the building that are usually a few minutes off: It sounds like some nightmarish MC Escher-Lewis Carroll architectural collaboration, but for members of the European Parliament, it's just a hellish day at work. EU politicians are complaining that the Parliament's various buildings—notably, its headquarters in Strasbourg, France, and its Brussels building—are exercises in frustration, with complicated layouts that often make them late to meetings and unable to find their own offices, the Wall Street Journal reports. "I was about to start crying, because you have a hundred appointments," a German member of Parliament tells the Journal, relaying how he recently got lost at headquarters and had to call his assistants to describe the wall colors in hopes they could find him. "It was like I was 5 and got lost at the swimming pool."

No one can claim false advertising from Architecture-Studio, which designed Strasbourg's HQ: "Our buildings offer themselves ... as 'mysteries,' or stories for which we provide 'keys' and signs so that they are deciphered," the company's website reads. The Brussels building is similarly perplexing, boasting sections named after obscure dignitaries, missing room labels, a Floor 5-1/2 (which you can only access by a hard-to-find elevator), and analog clocks that don't tell time accurately. "Sometimes you’re on the way to a meeting and you're twice late and twice early," a German parliamentary VP tells the Journal. He's asked for radio-controlled clocks for three years, but it doesn't look hopeful: "One directorate-general will say yes, but then the other, who is actually in charge, says there's no money," he laments. (Parliament members did find their way to the vote to break up Google.)

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