A temporary suncreen is to block out intense light reflected from Rafael Viñoly’s Walkie Talkie skyscraper which is thought to have started fires and damaged nearby businesses
Joint developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf have erected a scaffold screen on Eastcheap following reports that sunlight reflected from Rafael Viñoly’s skyscraper melted nearby cars.
Rays reflected off the curved facade of the 37-storey tower, described by Mayor of London Boris Johnson as a ‘lovely new skyscraper that is producing Aztec death rays’, are also said to have cracked tiles, burnt a doormat and blistered paintwork on nearby businesses. The City of London has suspended three parking bays as a precautionary measure.
According to the developers the light beam at this time of year lasts about two hours a day and preliminary modelling indicates ‘the phenomenon’ will be present for two to three weeks.
The incident is reminiscent of Viñoly’s Vdara Hotel and Spa in Las Vegas which was dubbed the ‘Death Ray Hotel’ in 2010 after guests complained the glass skyscraper was magnifying and reflecting the sun’s rays onto the pool deck, causing hot spots, sunburns and melting plastic bags.
Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, also encountered a similar problem when it opened in 2003. According to reports in the LA times reflections from the stainless steel facade were ‘blasting some condominiums across the street with a near-blinding glare’ and increasing the risk of traffic accidents. The offending panels were sanded down to eliminate the glare.
Already more than half-let, the scheme at 20 Fenchurch Street in the City of London is due to complete next May. The project, nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie has now been christened the Walkie-Scorchie by the tabloid press.