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John McCartney and Herald staff | jmccartney@heraldnet.com
Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 2:31 p.m.

London skyscraper accused of melting Jaguar

  • Developers for an unfinished skyscraper in central London say they are investigating the way the building reflects bright sunlight after claims that t...

    Andy Scofield / Associated Press

    Developers for an unfinished skyscraper in central London say they are investigating the way the building reflects bright sunlight after claims that the intense glare melted parts of a car parked nearby.

LONDON -- Motorists may want to think twice about parking in front of the half-built London skyscraper known as the Walkie-Talkie.

That's because the glare off the skin of the new building is so intense that at least one Jaguar owner says it caused part of his vehicle to melt.

And that's not all: Locals say the building's heat also burned a hole in the welcome mat of a barber shop across the street.

"We were working and just saw the smoke coming out of the carpet," shop owner Ali Akay said. "This is a health and safety issue. They should have looked into this before they built it."

Similar problems have plagued other modern buildings, including in Los Angeles, when neighbors of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall reported heat buildups that required corrective measures.

In a joint statement, developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf said they are taking the complaints seriously and looking into how the building reflects sunlight. The 37-story tower -- one of the most distinctively shaped skyscrapers in London's financial district -- is expected to be completed in 2014.

The apparent problem came to public attention when businessman Martin Lindsay told reporters that his Jaguar's mirror, panels and hood ornament had all melted from the concentrated sunlight reflected from the building.

"It was parked for a couple hours in the city ... and it's completely warped," he said. "It's absolutely ruined."

The problem lasts about two hours a day and is expected to continue for another two to three weeks, developers said in a statement.

"The phenomenon is caused by the current elevation of the sun in the sky," they explained.

In the meantime, the companies said they will erect a temporary scaffold screen at street level to minimize the problem. They said they have also asked city authorities to suspend parking in three spaces.

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