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Posh ‘Monument of Defects’ to be Razed

Thursday, May 15, 2014

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Six years after revelations of serious construction defects stopped work, a Las Vegas luxury high-rise will be painstakingly dismantled without ever opening.

But even as the Harmon Hotel in MGM Resort International’s $8.5 billion CityCenter begins to come down, the nine-figure legal battle between the owners and general contractor Tutor Perini Company will continue.

Harmon Hotel
Cygnusloop99 / Wikimedia Commons

A judge has ordered the demolition of the Harmon Hotel, which has been used as a billboard since construction was halted in 2008.

Floor-by-floor dismantling of the hotel in the heart of the Vegas Strip will begin this summer, a Nevada judge has ruled.

The lawsuit pits Tutor Perini against CityCenter co-owners MGM and Dubai World.

Hotel Saga

Originally scheduled to open in 2009, the Harmon made it only to 26 of its 48 planned stories when 2008 inspections revealed installation flaws in steel rebar in concrete walls, columns and beams, according to reports.

The hotel project was halted, its scope drastically reduced, and the legal feud ensued.

Designed by Foster + Partners Architects, the striking blue-glass building has served as a giant billboard for years, while the Aria, Vdara and Mandarin Oriental towers have gone on to welcome guests in the 67-acre CityCenter complex.

CityCenter experts have called the Harmon a “monument of construction defects” and say the structure could collapse in a strong earthquake, reports note. They said more than 7,000 structural defects had been observed.

The contractor claims the building’s problems stem from design flaws; MGM contends that the contractor is to blame for the structural deficiencies, according to reports citing court documents.

Harmon Hotel
Kris Ziel / Wikimedia Commons

Intended to open in 2009, the Harmon made it only to 26 stories (out of 48 planned) when 2008 inspections revealed flaws in steel reinforcements in concrete walls, columns and beams, according to reports.

Tutor Perini is seeking more than $300 million in unpaid construction bills; MGM's countersuit seeks nearly $400 million, reports relate.

Demolition to Begin

MGM first requested the court’s permission to raze the structure in March 2012. Permission was granted in July 2012, but the dismantling was delayed so that the tower could be used as evidence in the upcoming trial, which is now scheduled to begin in September 2014.

On April 22, Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered the attorneys to wrap up evidence collection and testing so that the demolition process could begin this summer, reports said.

The demolition will cost about $11.5 million and may take up to a year to complete, according to reports.

No Implosion

Unlike other demolished Las Vegas hotels, such as the Sands, Aladdin, Stardust, Desert Inn and the Castaways, the Harmon will not come down in a big boom.

Harmon Hotel rebar - 2007
Wikimedia Commons / Stephan F. Steinbach Gollogly

Construction of the Harmon Hotel, on the Las Vegas Strip, began in 2007. One year and 26 stories later, the discovery of improperly installed rebar halted work.

Instead, the Harmon will be taken down floor by floor because it is conjoined with other structures, Thom Doud, a project manager for Controlled Demolition Inc., a company that has handled a number of other Las Vegas implosions, told the Los Angeles Times.

“All structures are like people,” Doud told the news bureau. “They all have their own personalities. You have to deal with each accordingly.”

Reports have not indicated what will take Harmon’s place on the Strip.


Tagged categories: Commercial Construction; Concrete; Construction; Design; General contractors; Health and safety; Hotels; Laws and litigation; Rebar

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