The symbolism and meaning of architecture, even when explained by the architects and engineers, can often become muddy with the interpretations of scholars and the public. These interpretations can be about the design itself or about alleged events that occurred at the building in question. At times, a building or set of buildings can become shrouded in popular—though often unsubstantiated—theories concerning covert, malicious, or immoral activity. These conspiracy theories range from the location of a long lost artifact, to the shrine of a secret organization, to the alleged haven for the most ruthless war criminal in modern history. The narratives of the five buildings below lead to amateur investigation, site worship, and a culture of distrust in the powers that be.

The United States Bullion Depository (Fort Knox). Photo Credit: Cliff

5. United States Bullion Depository (Fort Knox, Kentucky)

Sometimes referred to simply as Fort Knox, this heavily fortified building houses gold reserves and other items deemed extremely valuable by the US government. Designed by Louis A. Simon in the 1930s, the building holds over 4,500 metric tons of gold bullion and has been home to the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, the Crown of St. Stephen, the Hungarian crown jewels, and an official copy of the Magna Carta.


Security includes multiple fences, alarms, armed US Mint Police, 30,000 active troops, snipers, Apache helicopter gunships, tanks, and minefields. The vault is outfitted with a 20-ton door and 25-inch-thick casing that can survive an impact from a nuclear strike. Officials only know part of the code for added security. These elaborate measures have made conspiracy theorists allege that the vault contains not only gold bars, but also the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. Due to the elusiveness of this artifact central to Christianity, people have been speculating about its location and existence for centuries. Also purported to be housed in the complex are the location of Noah's Ark and the True Cross upon which Jesus was crucified.

Another bizarre theory put forth by Brad Meltzer of the History Channel show Decoded alleges that Fort Knox does not in fact contain any gold at all.


The Pyramid of Peace. Photo Credit: Foster + Partners

4. The Pyramid of Peace (Astana, Kazakhstan)

Designed by illustrious English architect Sir Norman Foster, the Pyramid of Peace is a large structure in the heart of the manufactured capital of Kazakhstan commissioned by controversial president Nursultan Nazarbayev. The entire capital of Astana is shrouded in conspiracy, much like the city plan of Washington, DC.


The pyramid is where the Kazakh congress meets around a circular "sun table," construed as a sign that the pyramid was built for sun worship. The pyramidal iconography is often attributed to sun worship, the Eye of Providence, and the agenda of the Illuminati and New World Order. The Pyramid of Peace is seen by conspiracy theorists as a sign of the "power to come," a future that will be ruled by a ruthless, singular government. The auspicious display of symbolism is seen as a way to ease the world's population into an inevitable submission to a new status quo.­­­

Photo Credit: Denver International Airport Transportation Company

3. Denver International Airport (Denver, Colorado)

The second largest airport after King Fahd Airport in Saudi Arabia, Denver International Airport was designed by Fentress Architects, and is best remembered for its distinctive fiberglass roof in the shape of the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The unique design of the airport as well as the atypical art that decorates the walls have been the subject of controversy and conspiracy.


Denver International Airport runways. Photo Credit: Charles Tilford


"The Children of the World Dream of Peace" mural. Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz

Conspiracy theorists have pointed out that the runways seem to resemble a swastika, while the murals that occupy the walls are said to be symbolic of the New World Order. Artist of the murals Leo Tanguma says, however, that the themes are symbolic of manmade destruction juxtaposed with peace and humanity. The dedication marker also raises questions. It contains the words "New World Airport Commission," and is inscribed with a square and compass, the telltale mark of Freemasons. Continue reading the countdown of buildings shrouded in conspiracy on Architizer