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By James Taylor-Foster
With the recent news that Rafael Viñoly Architects’ 20 Fenchurch Street (or the “Walkie Talkie“) in London has been producing an unusually hot solar reflection, dubbed the “Death Ray,” we’ve put together a list of seven architectural blunders around the world -- from the worrying to the downright absurd.
1. Vdara Hotel (Las Vegas) / Rafael Viñoly Architects’
It was reported in 2010 that this skyscraper can also melt things. Hotel guests have spoken about hair being “scorched” and plastic cups being “melted” at certain times of the day. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “employees call the phenomenon the ‘Vdara death ray.’”
Standing as the tallest building in Leeds, this tower “has caused one death” and “serious injuries” due to a powerful wind tunnel that forms around its base. BDOnline reports that following a total of 25 incidents, the Leeds city council is starting work on a solution.
3. Museum Tower (Dallas) / Scott Johnson
Following in the same vein as 20 Fenchurch Street and the Vdara Hotel, this skyscraper is also a scorcher. Having been described in the Huffington Post as a “magnifying glass,” the building is in an ongoing dispute with Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Centre nearby.
4. Taipei 101 (Taiwan) / CY Lee
This tower, reported as the tallest green building in the world, weighs around 700,000 tonnes. Known for its “revolutionary earthquake and typhoon mitigation technologies,” it’s ironic that some geologists believe that this building has actually reopened a fault line in the Taipei basin.
5. Beetham Tower (Manchester) / Ian Simpson Architects
Standing at 46 stories, this skyscaper was the tallest residential block in Europe when it opened in 2006. The thin blade that sits at the top of the building reportedly causes an audible whistle or a hum when the wind blows. Ian Simpson, who lives in the tower, is working on a fix.
6. Intempo Hotel (Benidorm) / Roberto Perez Guerras
When it was suggested that this hotel in Benidorm had been designed without lifts to the top, it seemed to be the biggest architectural blunder of this year. The developers had decided to more than double the height of the building and, in the race to get it built, adequate space hadn’t been allocated for larger lifts and motor equipment. The Architects have since redesigned the building and “it is unclear as to how the developers will overcome the issue.”
7. Rhugyong Hotel (North Korea) / Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers
This building holds the world record as the “world’s tallest unoccupied building.” Due to a seemingly endless series of problems, including electricity and food shortages, the tower, which was originally meant to open in 1992, is still under construction.