Vdara’s Reflective, Curved Glass Façade Brings Intense Sunlight to Pool Area

The grand opening of CityCenter in Las Vegas was a much-anticipated, much-celebrated event that kicked off with the opening of the Vdara Hotel & Spa on December 1, 2009, but almost a year later the project is getting some negative publicity–due to the glass. Designed by RV Architecture LLC, an international practice led by Rafael Viñoly, Vdara’s crescent shape and skin of patterned glass made for a striking addition to the Las Vegas strip. People are still talking about the hotel’s design, saying the curved shape of the hotel’s glass façade is causing intense sunlight to reflect straight at the pool area.

During an episode of the Today Show  last week Bill Pintas, a Chicago attorney, who was recently by the Vdara pool, said that while sitting by the pool “for maybe 30 seconds” his head was steaming hot and he could smell his hair burning.

The Vdara features Viracon’s VRE 1-38, which has visible light exterior reflectance of 44 percent, visible light interior reflectance of 20 percent and solar energy reflectance of 46 percent.

Christine Shaffer, marketing manager for Viracon, says, “as the glass fabricator for the project we note that the glass design intent was to balance the aesthetic appearance of the building along with reflecting light and heat, thus reducing interior glare and heat gain, with the added benefit of reducing energy consumption.”

Benson Industries was the contract glazier.

Though not involved with this particular project, industry consultant Bill Lingnell says this is “a situation where the glass has a reflective property and so it’s doing what it’s made to do—reflect solar rays away from the building.”

Lingnell points out that glass will always do one of three things.

“It’s either letting the sun through; a portion of the sun is being reflected; or a portion is being absorbed,” he says. “One of these is always going on.”

However, while people may be quick to blame the glass, glass alone isn’t necessarily the problem. Design factors, such as placing a pool by a reflective structure, can also be an issue.

“Glass gets s bad wrap sometimes, but it can also go back to the design,” says Lingnell. “The glass properties are known from the beginning and no one is hiding what they are.”

At press time representatives from RV Architecture LLC had not responded to requests for comment.