London’s ‘Death Ray’ building to see fixes this month

Alterations will be made to the tower to prevent reflected sunlight from melting more cars

TRD New York /
May.May 17, 2014 01:00 PM

 Work to alter Rafael Viñoly Architects‘ 20 Fenchurch Street – dubbed the Walkie Talkie due to its unusual shape, and then the “Walkie Scorchie” after it created a heat-focusing ray strong enough to melt cars last summer – is due to start later this month, after planning permission for the additions was granted in April. 

The alterations, also designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, will see horizontal aluminium louvres added to the glass facade between the 3rd and the 34th floor to ensure that the reflective “death ray” effect is not repeated.

News of the effect proved instantly popular when it broke in September 2013, with people flocking to experience the hot-spot for themselves. Some even fried eggs in the glare, and one reading by the BBC measured surface temperatures of over 90°C (194°F).

The developer Land Securities says that the alterations required have not added to the building’s cost, and despite the widespread ridicule, the building remains remains one of their most financially successful ventures.

A statement from the company’s 2014 annual results said that “a solar glare issue drew attention to the building for the wrong reasons but did nothing to deter lettings with 200,000 sq ft taken up in the months after the problem materialised.” The building is said to be “all but completed” and has already let 87% of its office space.


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