If you ride L.A.'s new Skyslide, there are a couple reasons you shouldn't look down.
The first? The glass-bottomed slide is installed 1,000 feet in the air on the side of Los Angeles' U.S. Bank Tower, overlooking a vertiginous drop that would make almost anyone sick. Two? Even if you've got a steady stomach for heights, the person who rode the slide before you may not have.
Plunging at an angle from the 70th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower, the Skyslide is made entirely of clear glass, one-and-half inches thick. Tourists who buy a ticket can ride it 45 feet along the side of the building down to the 69th floor. Created by glassmakers at M.Ludvik & Co, the Skyslide will open as part of the Gensler-designed Skyspace L.A. installation, California's tallest open air observation deck, which will offer 360-degree panoramic views of downtown L.A. to visitors come June 25.
Glass-bottom architectural attractions are nothing new. China has a suspension bridge made out of glass in Shiniuzhai Geopark, and there's a skywalk above the Grand Canyon. In London, developers at the Embassy Gardens have just built an 82 foot glass sky pool that visitors can use to swim laps between two separate towers.
So should you take a ride on the Skyslide? Well, that's up to you. Two weeks after it opened, China's new mountainside glass walkway cracked so badly it was evacuated. And while there have been no reports of cracks in the Embassy Garden glass sky pool, that glass is over 8 inches thick, compared to the Skyslide's mere 1.5 inches.
It should be strong enough, though. According to Michael Ludvik of Ludvik & Co, the Skyslide is made of four large panes of triple laminated hurricane glass (as opposed to smaller pieces of glass bolted together), an innovation made possible due to the recent availability of oversized glass fabrication technologies. Another thing that makes the Skyslide strong enough to support visitors' weight is the way those pieces of glass are connected to each other using "soft touch" components, which swivel just enough so that high stresses do not develop at the connection points. So chances are, no matter how big the slider, the Skyslide is probably safe.
Still, if you do opt to pay $25 for a ticket on the Skyslide? Prepare to hurl. But hey! At least in the case of hurlage the Skyslide should be easy to clean. After all, it slopes downhill.