Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Elvis billboard is gone

Well, it looks like having the world’s most expensive billboard did not help out Elvis, or the billboard.

When City Center was built it was comprised of several separate buildings, each of which would function independently.

Most of them were designed by different architects and built by different construction companies, but they all seem to fit together quite well.

One of the showcase buildings, right on the Strip next to the Cosmopolitan and the Bellagio was to be the Harmon Hotel. The design was for 27 floors of hotel rooms, with 20 floors of condominiums above. Unfortunately, the construction company putting up this building had problems converting the engineering blueprints into an actual building. The reinforcing steel bars (rebar) that ran vertically in the walls were supposed to be firmly connected to the horizontal rebar in each floor, thus making the building one giant linked object. Concrete is then formed over the steel, creating the building. This is the common form of construction for most modern large buildings. The construction workers however had problems making the rebar connections, which resulted in the steel in the floors not being tied to the steel in the walls. For some reason the inspectors that were supposed to be examining everything as it went together were not doing their jobs either, and the difference between the blueprints and reality were not noticed until concrete for the 27th floor was being poured. (private inspection companies were used, not government inspectors)

Work stopped at that point as the county building department was called in. Unsure if it was safe to continue upwards, it was decided to put up the glass and leave the building unfinished until full inspections could be made. MGM put up a big sign for their new Elvis Cirque du Soleil show on the Strip side of the building, thus turning it into a $79,000,000 billboard.

MGM and Perini Construction are involved in a series of lawsuits about the building. A few weeks ago MGM released inspection reports by several firms they hired to review the building. The reports showed the building would be unsafe in a large earthquake. MGM took some time to decide whether they could fix things, and last week decided they did not want to. So a request was placed with the court to let MGM just tear the place down. Perini says they can fix it, and that MGM was going to destroy evidence and just wanted to take down a building that the economy was making unviable. A court will decide the fate of the building.

Meanwhile, the Elvis show has turned out to be so poorly attended that Cirque and MGM decided to close that as well. The plan is to modify the show, and take away a lot of the Elvis background and make it more of a Cirque acrobatic performance, like most of their other shows. They plan to be closed for at least three months while the show is revised. So the big Elvis wrap has been removed from the building, and probably the whole building will soon be gone as well.

The overall cost for the entire City Center project rose from initial estimates to a final $8,500,000,000, so the Harmon building is just a minor part of the big picture. It seems the only people that will benefit from the Harmon part are lawyers, many of which are working for both MGM and Perini. It looks like lawsuits will be around for this part for quite a few more years.


Marla said...

If a several million dollar billboard couldn't even help the Elvis show survive, then I'm glad I went to see Ka instead. It'll be interesting to see that building imploded. I might bring a lawnchair to watch. :P

Bill said...

Retro fitting is probably impossible. Such a waste.

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The Blonde Duck said...

They had a thing on Elvis on TV the other day.

Don said...

"Imploding" that building should be interesting. It will certainly be a test of the quality of construction in all the other buildings! LOL I wouldn't want to be in one of them when the Harmon goes down.

Froggy said...

Oh dear, what a waste of money! Stupid people!

SOL's view said...

What a colossal waste of everyone's time and money. A real SNAFU.

Rob said...

What Don said: should be quite a spectacle.