$1.8B Las Vegas Sphere Tops Out

TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2021

The $1.8B Las Vegas MSG Sphere has officially topped out as officials held a media tour late last week followed by a topping-out ceremony. The steel frame for the 17,500-seat sphere is now complete, and all that’s left is to cover the structure in LEDs.

Crews have started building the exosphere framework for the 580,000 square feet of lights, with the goal of having a second “topping out” next year.

However, crews will be focusing on the 160,000-square-foot area for the interior first.

“This venue has every engineering and construction challenge that one venue could have, which is just absolutely exciting to be able to come into work every day as we work through these,” said Nick Tomasino, Vice President of construction for MSG Entertainment.

The skeleton—32 steel trusses—was completed ahead of schedule and the Sphere itself is still slated for completion in 2023.

Project Background

The project broke ground in September 2018, as a collaboration between the Madison Square Garden Company and Las Vegas Sands Corp., along with designs from Populous.

The technology behind the 350-foot-tall, 500-feet-in-diameter sphere was originally unveiled in February 2018.

Officials at the time touted “beamformed” technology for the sound transmission—enabled by thousands of tiny speakers embedded into the venue walls—that will give the same sound clarity for people in the back as the people in the front.

The sphere’s interior will have a digital display plane of a 170,000 square feet, and its exterior counterpart, wrapped in an open-air trellis structure, will hold 580,000 square feet of programmable surface.

Inside, the display will be the largest and highest resolution LED display plane in the world, according to officials.

Gov. Brian Sandoval touted some other numbers at the groundbreaking, including the estimated 3,500 construction jobs and 4,400 permanent jobs at the site. Once the sphere is complete, it is expected to bring $730 million in annual economic impact and $48 million in estimated tax revenue. MSG selected AECOM as the general contractor in June 2019.

As mentioned, in February of last year, the world’s fourth-largest crawler crane arrived onsite from Belgium. The crane, dubbed the DEMAG CC-8800, can extend 580 feet high weighs 869 tons. The crane can also rotate 360 degrees.

After being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, it reportedly took 120 tractor-trailers to deliver the crane, and then 18 days to assemble it.

On top of the crane’s weight, 850 tons of counterweight have been added for stability.

In August, officials confirmed a new construction schedule for the DEMAG, which included three main tasks: superstructure concrete work, structural steel and the building of the steel-domed roof.

In October, MSG Entertainment confirmed that a pair of steel girders (a combined 240 tons) were put it place earlier this month. The girders span the length of the venue’s stage and will support the structure’s 13,000-ton steel-domed roof—the heaviest lift of the project.

The two girders were reportedly formed by placing two pairs of 100-ton steel tubs on top of one another. The bottom halves of each girder were set in place at the end of September by the crawler crane.

After that, concrete was pumped to the bottom of the tubs, followed by another tub lifted into place, creating a hollow cavity. To finish, the cavities will be filled with more concrete.

These girders and concrete are vital to the structure’s foundational support.

Most recently, at the end of last year, some contracts on the project shifted, as MSG Entertainment Co. announced that it was taking over construction management duties from general contractor AECOM.

According to reports, AECOM has transitioned from its role as general contractor with a new services agreement that facilitates involvement with the Sphere through the project’s completion.

The project now falls under new President of Development and Construction at MSG, Jayne McGivern, who has assembled a team of professionals for the project.

“We have taken significant steps to strengthen our internal construction team,” McGivern said in a statement at the time. “This, along with valued support from AECOM, will give us greater transparency and control over the construction process while enabling us to continue benefiting from AECOM’s expertise. MSG Sphere will be a venue unlike any other, and we believe we are well-positioned to not only advance our Las Vegas project, but also deliver on our long-term vision for MSG Sphere.”

In late February, the Sphere reached a milestone by completing the 100-foot-diamter steel ring at the top of the structure.

In order to position the giant piece, crews reportedly spent almost a month assembling it on the ground before using the DEMAG CC-8800 crane (the fourth-largest crawler crane in the world, which arrived on site this time last year) to hoist it into place.

Crews used a hydraulic lift to calibrate the ring’s exact position before roof trusses were put in place.


Tagged categories: Commercial Construction; Good Technical Practice; NA; North America; Ongoing projects

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