WTF Fun Facts 12588 – The Walkie Talkie Skyscraper

In 2013, a 38-story skyscraper needed a bit of a redesign during construction. Located at 20 Fenchurch Street in London, the building is nicknamed the “Walkie-Talkie” because of its shape. The building has an interesting top-heavy shape.

The building cost around £200 million and was designed by architect Rafael Viñoly. But it wasn’t very popular. In fact, in 2015, the Carbuncle Group named it the worst new building in the UK. But they weren’t the people who were most upset.

It turns out that on those rare sunny London days, the building could become a giant magnifying glass.

For 2 hours a day, the sun shone just right so that the building acted like a concave mirror, beaming that light down onto the streets. (In this magnifying glass metaphor, that makes humans the ants.)

Developers only realized that it was creating temperatures up to 243 degrees F at ground level in the summer of 2013 when a beam six times brighter than direct sunlight started melting a car – a Jaguar XJ, to be exact. The owner, Martin Lindsay, told the BBC that he only realized what happened when he saw a photographer taking photos of the vehicle and asked about it. He recalled the moment:

“The photographer asked me, ‘have you seen that car? The owner won’t be happy.’

“I said: ‘I am the owner. Crikey, that’s awful.'”

The wing mirror, panels, and Jaguar badge all melted.

“It could be dangerous. Imagine if the sun reflected on the wrong part of the body. On the windscreen, there was a note from the construction company saying, ‘your car’s buckled; could you give us a call?'” Lindsay said.

A reporter named Jim Waterson even managed to fry an egg in a pan on the sidewalk.

After that, the building got some new nicknames – “Walkie-Scorchie” and “Fryscraper,” for example.

Of course, an immediate and permanent solution needed to be found, so an awning was installed on the south side of the building to keep it from inadvertently incinerating Londoners and their pricey vehicles.

The same architect, Viñoly, also designed a building in Las Vegas with a similar problem and its windows needed to be coated in non-reflective film.

Viñoly blamed himself, but also the fact that he didn’t realize it was ever that sunny or warm in London. Meanwhile, the Jaguar owner got his repairs paid for by the developers.

– WTF fun facts

Source: “‘Walkie-Talkie’ skyscraper melts Jaguar car parts” — BBC News

WTF Fun Fact 12555 – The London Bridge of Arizona

London Bridge is falling down
Falling down, falling down
London Bridge is falling down
My fair lady

Did you sing this song as a kid? We sure did, although we had no idea just how many more verses it had – there are lines about building it up with iron bars as well as gold and silver, but in the end, the bridge was simply taken down and replaced.

Originally built in the 1830s, it spanned the River Thames in London, England. But by 1968, it was up for sale. We can’t really relate to the desire to buy an old bridge that’s falling down, but apparently, millionaires can. American entrepreneur and chainsaw manufacturer Robert P. McCulloch (who also inherited a fortune from his grandfather) decided to buy the bridge to serve as a tourist attraction in the new community he was planning in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. He paid $2.5 million (but there wasn’t exactly a bidding war over it).

And what millionaires want, they tend to get. He bought the bridge, had it dismantled, and transported it to Arizona on a cargo ship. After sailing through the Panama Canal, it landed in Long Beach, California, and was trucked to Lake Havasu City. There, it was reassembled and opened in October 1971.

But you don’t have to worry about using a crumbling old bridge if you visit it. The masonry from the old bridge simply forms the outer structure of the new “London Bridge,” which includes reinforced concrete. It now connects an island in the Colorado River with the main part of Lake Havasu City.

Now, when we say it connects an island, we don’t mean that a bridge was needed there. In fact, a canal was dug to create the island after the bridge was built. But it had the intended effect. Interest in buying land in the area increased, and it did indeed become a tourist destination (and it still is to this day). –  WTF fun fact

Source: “Arizona’s London Bridge: A Brief History” — Arizona Highways

WTF Fun Fact – Gilbert Bates

WTF Fun Fact - Gilbert Bates

An American named Gilbert Bates marched across England after the civil war carrying an American flag and wearing his military uniform on a bet of $1000 that he wouldn’t be insulted along the way. He couldn’t make it into London because of the large crowds showing their support. He had previously walked across the Southern US to make a similar statement. – WTF Fun Facts