Blog Description - A collection of media articles and tweets highlighting 1) the dangers of sun glare while driving, 2) the issue of shadowing due to urban development, and 3) random fun sun facts.

Blog Purpose and Disclaimer - This blog compiles and shares public interest stories in an effort to educate and raise awareness. Sources, credits and links are provided for articles and images, and it is my belief that this blog complies with the fair dealing exception in Canada's Copyright Act. However, if you wish your item removed, simply ask.

Cheers, Ralph Bouwmeester

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Watch as the sun sets along Toronto's east/west streets on Friday Oct 25/13 at 6:18 pm.

Next Torontohenge dates are:

Feb 15/14 sunset at 5:48 pm
Apr 19/14 sunrise at 6:28 am
Aug 23/14 sunrise at 6:31 am, and
Oct 25/14 sunset at 6:18 pm

Cheers, Ralph

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fryscrapers - Tall buildings that cook their surroundings

The stories below highlight the immense power of the sun, especially when its rays are concentrated and focussed inadvertently as a result of the design/shape of the building.  These examples have been well-documented and they have gained world-wide attention.  Two are currently (Sep 2013) in the news - Walkie Talkie and Museum Tower.

Could these problems have been avoided?  Certainly!  With careful design of the building's shape and orientation, and proper selection of exterior materials.

Think lighting fires with a magnifying glass, or cooking with a solar cooker!  Not what you want to do with a building - unless of course you find a way to capture and re-use the heat and energy.

Walkie Talkie, London, UK

Walkie Talkie Building

 Photo: By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The "Walkie Talkie" building, currently (Sep 2013) under construction in London, England, has had its fair share of publicity lately.  And not all good!  It's been nick-named Walkie Scorchie and Wok-ie Talkie. 

The 37-storey glass tower has been accused of everything from melting car parts on a Jaguar, to melting bicycle seats, to setting a door mat on fire, to frying an egg, to setting a reporter's hair on fire (apparently while he too was trying to fry an egg). 

The reason:  The concave shape focusses the sun's rays onto a small area - much like a magnifiying glass or a parabolic solar cooker.

Read more here:

Walt Disney Concert Hall - Los Angeles, California

Disney Concert Hall

 Photo: CC BY 1.0,

The Frank Gehry-designed concert hall in LA had similar problems.  No egg-frying but enough of a problem to raise temperatures in nearby condos by 15 degrees F and forcing people to crank up their AC.

Again it was the shape of the building combined with certain sun angles.  And, of course, the glossy steel exterior didn't help.

The solution involved sandblasting the offending curved steel panels.

Read more here:

Vdara Hotel  - Las Vegas, Nevada

Vdara Hotel

 Photo: By Cygnusloop99 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This curved, glassy tower concentrated sun beams onto the hotel's pool deck and actually burned people lounging and melted plastic drink cups and newspaper bags.  

The solution in this case involved covering the windows with a reflective film.  (Hopefully a dull reflective film.)

Apparently there's a name for this (no, not "death ray"), "solar convergence phenomenon".

Read more here:

Museum Tower - Dallas, Texas

 Museum Tower                      Nasher Sculpture Center

Museum Tower Photo: By Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Dasher Sculpture Centre Photo: By Photo: Andreas Praefcke - Own work (own photograph), CC BY 3.0, 

The Museum Tower is a 42-storey condo tower currently (Sep 2013) under construction in Dallas, Texas.  It neighbours the Nasher Sculpture Center which houses a gallery that depends on specially filtered sunlight, a feature that was painstakingly designed into the building in 1993.  Fast forward to 2013.

The glass walls of the tower reflect sunlight onto the glass roof of the gallery during the afternoons. The result: the museum’s art gets fried. 

Now a 2-year battle has resulted in City Council and the arts community demanding solutions and one man losing his job.
Experts are currently exploring options including re-designing the gallery’s special glass roof and adding retractable shades to the tower.  So far, neither side can agree on the solution.  Either way, the local sentiment seems to be that the Museum Tower owes the gallery the quality of light it so much depends on.  Sadly, the cost would likely be borne by the City’s police and firefighters because the Museum Tower is being developed by their pension fund.

Read more here:
Cheers, Ralph

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Like us on Facebook

We have added a Facebook page to our social media tool bag.  We invite you to Follow and Like us.

Suggestions as to content and format are always welcome.

Cheers, Ralph

Friday, August 16, 2013

Two New Daily Papers re: Sun Glare & Driving, and Shadow Impacts & Urban Development

We have created two daily papers via "" containing interesting (hopefully) articles relevant to our areas of practice. The first deals with traffic safety and the dangers of sun glare while driving; the second deals with urban development and tall buildings and focuses on shadow impacts. Follow the links below:


Cheers, Ralph

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunrise/Sunset Tables March 2013

Our free sunrise/sunset tables for March 2013 have been posted.  If you would like to receive one for the current month for your location, simply e-mail your request to us. Tables for past and/or future months are also available.  For more information visit:

Cheers, Ralph

Daylight Saving Time Change

For those of you in North American jurisdictions that observe Daylight Saving Time, don't forget to 'spring ahead' your clocks one hour before bedtime on Saturday night, March 9th. Official time change to Daylight Saving Time occurs at 2:00 a.m. local time on Sunday, March 10th.

Cheers, Ralph