Fancy a fried egg? The Walkie Scorchie and other skyscraper fails

London's Walkie Talkie skyscraper is causing chaos down in Eastcheap but it's not the only city to be hit with high-rise havoc

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 28 Jan 2015

There’s a menace on Fenchurch Street. It’s called the Walkie Talkie, and it’s scorching everything from barbershop carpets to Jaguar XJ wing mirrors. The unfinished 37-storey skyscraper has been dubbed the 'Walkie Scorchie' because of the intense beam of light its curved and reflective surface creates and shoots down onto the street below.

This afternoon, City AM reporter James Waterson was captured frying an egg on the pavement, before chomping into it on a fluffy white roll. Well, at least there’s some benefit to having mental melting temperatures at pavement level.

The beam is being caused by the curvaceous face of the building and should, you might suggest, have been foreseen by its developer, Land Securities. But they seem to have been taken by as much surprise as Martin Lindsay, the unfortunate Jaguar owner who returned to his car, having parked it two hours before, to find some of its panels warped by the extreme heat.

‘We are aware of concerns regarding the light reflecting from 20 Fenchurch Street and are looking into the matter,’ said a joint statement from Land Securities and Canary Wharf. MT hopes whoever is doing the looking is wearing sun glasses.

‘As a precautionary measure, the City of London has agreed to suspend three parking bays in the area which may be affected while we investigate the situation further.’

Tell that to Mr Lindsay and his warped Jag.

But Land Securities and Canary Wharf can take solace in the fact they aren’t along when it comes to skyscraper fails. Many tower building powerhouses have faced challenges in the past…

1. InTempo, Spain

Europe’s tallest residential skyscraper is currently under construction in Benidorm, Spain. But most residents of the beachside apartment block would have had trouble reaching their rooms if a critical flaw had not been spotted - albeit 94% of the way through construction. The 47-storey residential building only had plans for elevators as far as the 20th floor.

2. People’s Daily HQ, Beijing

When the new headquarters of Chinese state-run newspaper People’s Daily was under construction, its shape started to cause quite a stir. From a certain angle the tower and its scaffolding looked incredibly phallic. The Chinese censors got onto the situation immediately and tried to censor any jokes or references being made about the tower’s appearance. But the public took to Chinese ‘Twitter’ Weibo to voice their observations.

3. Lotus Riverside, Shanghai

Back in 2009, an entire apartment block under construction collapsed almost completely intact, narrowly missing other blocks under construction but killing one worker. Apparently the pilings used in the development are outlawed in some other places including Hong Kong for not being strong enough.

4. Citicorp centre, New York City

This one’s a blast from the past. Construction of the Citicorp Centre (now known as 601 Lexington Avenue), in New York was completed in 1977, but it took a year for a critical design flaw to be noticed which could have brought the building down completely. A complicated cantilevered design, which allowed the corner of the building to hover over a church below, was discovered to be structurally unsound. The structural engineer behind the building, William LeMessurier, set about fixing the problem and the gaffe remained secret for 20 years. It was only revealed following an article in The New Yorker in 1995. LeMessurier was criticised for not informing people about the danger at the time but is now held up an an example of ethical behaviour in engineering text books because of his admission to Citicorp.



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