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Harmon Hotel, Las Vegas, United States

Monday 22 Nov 2010

Wrangles over doomed tower

Harmon Hotel by Foster + Partners in Las Vegas, United States
Courtesy of Cygnusloop99 
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No. of Comments: 4

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24/08/11 Don'tBelieveTheHype, Melbourne
Try reading the finance sections of the newspapers for a change! It’s not the architect’s fault. MGM are just doing anything they can to avoid paying for the project. When the GFC hit MGM Mirage City Center was pushed to the verge of bankruptcy. Suddenly the finances to finish the project disappeared. Fifty percent partners Dubai World wanted out and stopped paying & sued MGM Mirage in early 2009. The Harmon Hotel building wasn’t complete but fully committed to, so they reduced the number of floors. The impact of the GFC got worse & so did the financial position of MGM.
So the defects claim has been pulled out as an excuse for not paying for the building. Nice lawyer driven answer to not paying for something you commissioned and no longer have the money for. The builder says it can be fixed. It doesn't need to be demolished. If it is demolished it will be an incredible waste of resources in era when we should be more environmentally aware. The only ones to be blamed are the lawyers and they are the only ones who’ll get paid.
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27/11/10 roberto, miramar,fl
Architects are the the visible head at the top of the issues related to the final constructability of the documents issued by their offices, so it is very strange, that Foster's office press release; in regards of the Harmon Hotel's fiasco only mentioned that the structural documents are the ones in question at this time. Obviously, this is a very serious issue, and perhaps; this is reason why, we are hearing such cautiously statements
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24/11/10 J, US
Frankly I'm not surprised. Foster's time is over. Actually reading this story I realize that he has indeed become a plain businessman. For Christ sake he's an accountant rather than an architect, as humorously suggested here http://bit.ly/d3dqHB
23/11/10 Philip, Hay River
What happened to the architect as coordinator of the subconsultants, and thereby bearing at least some moral and professional responsibility for the constructability of their work--disappeared like construction debris down the waste chute, as the tail-covering legal twits move to precedence in the business of architecture. Thanks be for the possibility that one more high rise abomination will not rise out of the economic squalor of Vegas.
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Only legal bills rise as Foster + Partners' building falters 

Harmon Hotel, a towering 670,000 sq ft hotel block in the much-anticipated Las Vegas CityCenter complex, is to be demolished – or so say the British press. Designed by Foster + Partners working with Adamson Associates Architects, the structure has recently been described by Bobby Baldwin, Chief Executive of CityCenter, as the company's 'biggest disappointment'.

With the exterior completed in 2009, Harmon Hotel sits uninhabited while court battles rage over its supposed 'lack of constructability'. Slated to open in late 2010, designs for the Harmon Hotel included 400 high-end guestrooms and suites, 17,500 sq ft of advanced event space and a Frederic Fekkai hair salon. Due to intense debates over structural inadequacies the building's shell has since been utilised as an advertising mechanism, with slogans for Las Vegas shows plastered across its highly reflective glass façade.

WAN's US Correspondent, Sharon McHugh, reported in February 2009 that 21 floors of condominiums were to be scrapped from the apex of the tower, reducing its height from 49 to 28 storeys. With the imposing ARIA Resort and Casino, Crystals™ retail complex and Mandarin Oriental hotel and spa cushioning the Harmon Hotel on all sides, it was hoped that the stunted building would go on to act as a gateway for the $9.2bn CityCenter complex; this vision has been cut short yet again.

The ruckus began a year ago when it was discovered that steel reinforcements had been wrongly installed on 15 floors of the building by Perini Building Company's subcontractor, Pacific Coast Steel. It later emerged that a third-party inspection team – Converse Consultants – had missed these blunders and falsified 62 reports in 5 months, with all inspectors involved either having their qualifications revoked or suspended as a result.

There seems to be some confusion over the future of the Harmon Hotel as it currently stands, with British paper The Sunday Times reporting 'developers admitted last week they are preparing to demolish it with explosives and start again from scratch', whilst local newswire The Las Vegas Sun explains 'Perini [the main contractor] maintains the structure can be fixed' and Fox 5 News suggests 'any talk of imploding the Harmon is premature until the court makes a ruling [as to who is at fault], expected sometime in 2012'.

When WAN approached Foster + Partners, we were informed that: “The client has not officially informed [Foster + Partners] of the demolition. The constructability issues of the design drawings refer to the structural engineer drawings and not Foster + Partners design drawings. F+P are not involved in the legal wranglings.” This statement conflicts with those given by The Sunday Times, which suggests that 'Foster's design has contributed to the fiasco', an accusation the firm fiercely denies.

A game of 'pass the buck' seems fully underway, as the President of general contractor Perini Building Co., Craig Shaw released a statement some months ago which read: “Perini stands by its opinion that design conflicts contributed to the Harmon Hotel structural issues and that portions of the structural drawings, as designed and permitted, contained elements of reinforcing steel that could not be installed as drawn.”

Structural engineers Halcrow Yolles had not responded to comment requests at the time of going to press.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Foster + Partners

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