Walking down the streets of Philadelphia, you may feel the steady gaze of William Penn looking down from atop City Hall. Chances are good, though, that Penn’s stare will not melt your car or set fire to your welcome mat on a sunny day. Those are feats that only 20 Fenchurch Street can lay claim to.
The 37-story building is part of a new development in London’s financial district. Its unusual shape earned it the nickname “Walkie-Talkie” in the early stages of construction. Recent events, however, have led to a new name: the fryscraper.
The developer says the sun’s angle at this time of year is to blame for cars and bicycle seats melting and doormats outside of neighboring businesses igniting. For two hours a day over a two-week period, the light bounces off the concave exterior walls and converge to form a single beam, the “solar death ray.”
The phenomenon was not a surprise to the developer. The company had closed parking areas across the street from the building, but the problem has proven more complicated and more widespread.
That could be attributed to a miscalculation by the design and build team. The exterior of the building features fins that minimize the amplifying effect of the concave walls. Several fins were deleted from the original design in an effort to save money, but the team says they had determined there would be no impact on “solar shading performance.”
While the developer works to figure out a long-term solution, a spokesperson announced recently that a screen will be put up to protect the street and sidewalks. The scaffolding will stay up until the sun’s position changes.
Metro News, “Was the ‘fryscraper’ glare of Walkie Talkie a result of cost-cutting?” Sep. 6, 2013
BBC, “Walkie-Talkie skyscraper to have screen put up to stop rays,” Sep. 3, 2013