"We made a lot of mistakes with this building"
says Walkie Scorchie architect Viñoly

| 16 comments

"We made a lot of mistakes with this building" says Walkie Talkie architect Viñoly

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?"

"We made a lot of mistakes with this building" says Walkie Talkie architect Viñoly

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.

See more architecture by Rafael Viñoly »
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Images of the Walkie Talkie are courtesy of Shutterstock.

  • DL1119

    Melt it before it lays eggs!

  • Nick

    I don’t know of a single real person calling it the “Walkie Scorchie” in London. It’s a really lame name dreamed up by “journalists” to further this story.

    This story doesn’t need tacky jokes, it’s funny enough as it is!

    • Steeevyo

      We call it “Fryscraper”….

  • Marcel

    “Who cares about melting cars, I’m rich” – Viñoly

    • thisismattia

      “Right?”

  • stunsound

    Am I reading an Onion article? Has somebody slipped something in my water?

    “We pointed out that would be an issue too, but who cares if you fry somebody in Las Vegas, right?”

    “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?”

  • oc

    This is basic physics. Good enough to describe the power and reason of freeform architecture :-)

  • iCanada

    “Now you have all these sunny days. So you should blame this thing on global warming too, right?”

    “Who cares if you fry somebody in Las Vegas, right?”

    Sorry, I think this guy is full of bull****, right?

  • adam

    “Now you have all these sunny days. So you should blame this thing on global warming too, right?”

    Wrong.

    “We pointed out that would be an issue too, but who cares if you fry somebody in Las Vegas, right?”

    Are you serious?

    Mr. Viñoly you embarrassed yourself enough this week.

  • s

    The problem is not the death ray. The main problem is the whole building. The last good thing Viñoly did was back in 1978… the ATC building for the Argentinean TV.

  • Sam

    I wasn’t aware that sunny days in London was a recent phenomenon?!

    This man has truly embarrassed himself, and the profession.

  • JF

    He looks really stupid.

  • Sunnyday

    If he looked at the orientation of the sun, it’s a big part of it, he would still have his oh-so-loved arch shaped building. Yet, the sun wouldn’t melt cars/stuff.

  • Bubbles

    An apology riddled with blame for others is not really an apology Mr. Vinoly.

    “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.”

    I don’t need high-tech software to know this was a bad idea. Why use a concave facade for a concept? How does it make it a better building?

    “the brief for that project had called for curvy towers”

    The Wynn in Vegas is a ‘curvy’ tower and it doesn’t have these problems – you know why? Because the curve is softened reducing concentrated light and the primary facade is not directly hit with sun. Why couldn’t the Vdara facade be convex to the south rather than concave?

  • Steeevyo

    Wow being so successful and such a tremendous tool at the same time actually gives me hope for myself. ;-)

  • Terry Harrison

    His comments are both stupid & arrogant. I hope he takes responsibility & puts it right at his own cost.