I learned several things early in my scouting days. One was that if I focused sunlight through a magnifying lens, I could start a fire, melt plastic or burn my name into a 2x4. Another thing that I learned was how to build a reflecting oven to cook a meal when we were camping out. Never did I think that I would be reading a paper about the ways that building designs could do the same things.
We have written about the Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas that was reflecting sunlight and melting plastic cups and the plastic parts of Jaguars parked nearby. We have heard about the reflected sunlight from the Museum Tower in Dallas streaming into the nearby Nasher Museum and endangering priceless art. I have found a great paper written by Vicente Montes-Amores and published by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) that speaks to the issues involved and ways to avoid the potential financial liabilities for making mistakes. For those of you who are developing, designing and building towers these days, it is a good read.
For those of you who live in or near those “death ray” towers, you will be interested in why your azaleas are being fried. You might also be interested in reading some of the rules that are being developed in building codes in cities around the world to minimize the impact of reflected sunlight from buildings utilizing new glazing, unique designs and new materials when those new towers are built in your neighborhood.