London now has its very own death ray! Kind of. It hasn’t yet opened (in fact construction has not even finished) but the Walkie Talking building in central London is already making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Or right reasons if you’re a global troublemaker and dream of ruling the world.
You see, the sunlight reflecting from this 37-story building is melting cars. Melting cars! It has one poorly burned Jaguar under its belt and three parking bays have been closed so far.
This, of course, is raising eyebrows and The Guardian picked up the story in a heartbeat. But what raises even more eyebrows (as if two weren’t enough) is that the same exact thing has happened before.
And guess what? The building that melted cars before was designed by the same architect, Uruguayan Rafael Viñoly.
The Vdara hotel sits just off the Strip in Las Vegas and towers 57 stories over the city in all its glory. It’s quite a majestic structure, with a crescent-shaped design that stands out in the Nevada desert for its modern statement… and, you know, its ability to burn people.
It’s been claimed (by personal injury lawyer William G. Pintas) that the Vdara hotel’s south facade concentrated noon sunlight into a death ray’ onto the 40,000-sq-ft pool deck” and the building’s ‘concave surface acts a parabola resulting in solar convergence.” In fact, this hotel uses specially designed ‘double-pane acid-etched spandrel glass panels for energy-efficient heating and cooling’, but it’s exactly this glass that happened to burn hotel goers as they relaxed poolside in the afternoon sun… so, more heating than cooling, I imagine.
But the Walkie Talkie and the Vdara hotel aren’t the only buildings to have suffered from poor design/location. Here’s a fun list of other buildings that have gone through a bit of trouble:
– The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles: It took more than 15 years to complete construction on the complex but upon completion, nearby residents complained of concentrated heat spots from the reflection of the stainless steel panels on curved areas. Sizzle!
– John Hancock Tower in Boston: More than ten thousand windows were installed in this 60-story building, but while still under construction, about 65 windows fell to the ground and smashed on the streets and sidewalks. Oh, and it was also in danger of falling down. You know, the usual architectural nightmares.
– The Lotus Riverside residential complex in Shanghai: Imagine eleven 13-story buildings. Now imagine one of those buildings toppling over like in a Jenga game. This happened in 2009 (barely missing an adjacent building) after excavation began to create an underground garage. One worker was killed and following the incident, property owners were caught up in a deadlock with the property developers over a compensation settlement. Sigh.
Oh, and before you think of that 47-story Spanish high-rise that was rumored to have been built without elevators, as it turns out, there are elevators after all.
I would like to have added that to my list of architectural nightmares, but alas, it seems this particular architect took the time to proofread his blueprints. Unlike that Viñoly rascal.