News: architect Rafael Viñoly has admitted he knew the facade of his curvy Walkie Talkie skyscraper in London would focus an intense beam of sunlight onto a neighbouring street, but says that he "didn't realise it was going to be so hot".
Speaking to Guardian architecture critic Oliver Wainwright, Viñoly said that his curvaceous 37-storey tower at 20 Fenchurch Street was originally designed with horizontal sun louvres that would prevent a glare strong enough to melt the paint and bodywork of parked vehicles on Eastcheap Street, but that they were removed to cut costs.
"We made a lot of mistakes with this building," he said, "and we will take care of it."
The architect claims to have identified the problem during the design stages, but says he was without appropriate tools or software to analyse the precise effect.
"When it was spotted on a second design iteration, we judged the temperature was going to be about 36 degrees," he said. "But it's turned out to be more like 72 degrees. They are calling it the 'death ray', because if you go there you might die. It is phenomenal, this thing."
He also suggested that the problem could be down to changing climate. "When I first came to London years ago, it wasn't like this," he said. "Now you have all these sunny days. So you should blame this thing on global warming too, right?"
This week developers installed a two-storey netted shield to cover the facade of the building, now nicknamed "Walkie Scorchie", while city officials have suspended three parking bays until a more permanent solution can be found.
Reports first surfaced at the start of the week that the building was damaging vehicles. Since then it has been reported to have cracked pavement tiles, started a fire and even been used to fry an egg.
This isn't the first time that Viñoly has had complaints about sun reflecting from one of his buildings. In 2010, guests at the Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas complained of scorched hair and melted drinks glasses.
"That was a completely different problem," Viñoly told the paper, stating that the brief for that project had called for curvy towers. "We pointed out that would be an issue too, but who cares if you fry somebody in Las Vegas, right?"
The Walkie Talkie is scheduled to complete next year.
Images of the Walkie Talkie are courtesy of Shutterstock.