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Architects are Designing Skyscrapers That Won't Cast a Shadow

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From the outset, the No-Shadow Tower was imagined as a light-maximizing building, and was designed with that principle in mind. New York Magazine explains, “NBBJ developed a program to analyze the sun’s trajectory and use it to sculpt a form ideally suited to minimizing shadows.”

The final design imagines two London skyscrapers, one taller than the other, with a courtyard in between. The taller building would catch the sunlight as it streamed over the shorter one, and redirect it down into the courtyard. The building is designed to reduce shadows by 50 percent, and to filter small, moving pockets of light into the plaza, bathing it in a soft glow.

LOL at removing the "death ray":

Pintas isn't the only one to experience the so-called death ray at the City Center hotel.

A reporter from the Las Vegas Review-Journal made two trips to the pool and saw the 10-foot by 15-foot hot zone. As the Earth rotates, the hot spot shifts across the pool area. During the summer, it was noticeable for about 90 minutes before and after noon, the reporter discovered from pool employee interviews. The ray can increase temperatures 20 degrees in the zone.

Pintas said that polyethylene newspaper bags melt at between 120 and 130 degrees. A plastic cup melts at around 160 degrees.

Gordon Absher, a spokesman for MGM Mirage, which owns the Vdara, said the company is well aware of the problem and is addressing it.

"Because of the curved, concave shape of that hotel, they sometimes get isolated pockets of high temperatures," Absher said.

Apparently there is a more scientific name for the "death ray," a name that the hotel's management prefers: "solar convergence phenomenon."

The idea of a blinding light being magnified by a glass hotel in the middle of the desert shouldn't surprise anyone. And, in fact, MGM Mirage thought of this when designing the Vdara building. It hired a consultant who decided to place a thin film over the window which reduces the sun's effects by 70 percent.

"But even with that, when folks are out on the pool deck, on some days people will feel this reflection and the heat associated with it," said Absher, who noted this was the hotel's first summer of operation.

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