With 310 cloud-free days, Las Vegas is the sunniest city in the USA.
Because of this, it has always surprised me that so many buildings in the valley are made of reflective glass.
Because of things like this:
Visitors of the new-ish Vdara Hotel in City Center have found that, during a certain time of year, they are being bombarded with dangerous levels of concentrated light. They have even given it a name: "The Vdara Death Ray". Some pool users are being cooked by the death ray, and some folks are even finding that it is melting their belongings.
"Gee, Rex, this has been news for over a week, way to be behind the curve!"
Well, whoever you are, as usual ... you're wrong.
It's not that I didn't find the story interesting, it's that I didn't find this incident to be particularly unique. I've been writing about "death rays" for some time (without using that particular terminology). I, myself, have even been the victim of a seasonal "death ray".
Back in 2008 I wrote two posts about this very issue ... once in the winter and once in the summer (due to the seasonal tilt of the earth):
The "Mandalay Ray" did not require me to be sunning myself on The Strip, rather, it intruded into my home and required me to keep my blinds closed. It was so bright, that even looking in the general direction of the ray was very painful, and it could have been damaging to someone's eyesight a/la a laser pointer. In addition to being an irritant to residents, it was also a hazard to drivers on adjacent streets who were literally blinded by the ray while driving south.
Not even the Mandalay Ray was terribly unusual, however. The fact is -- from the Mandalay, to the Luxor, to Wynn/Encore, to Trump, to City Center, and even at the Golden Nugget pool, there are many such "death rays" throughout Las Vegas and I remain shocked that they have not caused more damage or accidents.
There are certain times of the year at the Luxor pool where the glare off of the pyramid is quite irritating and the reflection is enough to perceptibly heat the body and nearby beverages. If you live close to The Strip, you eventually get used to these "death rays" and you write them off as just another cost of living in Las Vegas.
This Vdara beam, however, seems to be particularly strong due to the concave design of the hotel, and it does surprise me somewhat that the City Center architects did not take into account the fact that Las Vegas experiences sun during the summer.
Then again, it does not seem as if any architects take this into account. If they had, we would not see so many mirrored buildings in the city. My guess is that the designers of Vdara tested the exterior reflections during a time other than late summer, and this was clearly a dangerous oversight, but it's a common oversight in Vegas.
In the future, I would personally be happy to see builders reduce the glare a bit. Glass buildings in the desert may look nice, but from a practical standpoint, they're kind of stupid. Much like the iPhone 4 antenna, this is a case where form of function results in a massive fail. The only thing to be seen is what kind of bumper case MGM/Mirage decides to put on the building.
Fortunately, for the same reason that the Mandalay Ray is brief (earth tilt), the Vdara "death ray" will be confined to a particular time of year as well. It will be overpowering for a few weeks out of the year, and the rest of the time it will hardly be noticable.
Just like Steve Wynn's libido.