The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 10:39cat

UPDATE: Harmon Tower to be Demolished Floor by Floor

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The Harmon Tower will be removed piece by piece The Harmon Tower will be removed piece by piece Steve Marcus

After years of delays, the Harmon Hotel demolition is officially underway in Las Vegas. A Judge issued an order on May 5 that allowed the building’s owners to move forward with the demolition. The building cannot be imploded like most other buildings in Las Vegas due to its location and connection to the Crystal Shopping Center. Officials from MGM Resorts said that workers started removing scrap metal and other material from inside the empty building last week. Pedestrian protection systems will be installed around the property this week and one sidewalk will be closed down to protect those passing by the Harmon Hotel during the next year. MGM plans to have a crane arrive in the near future to begin removing the building piece by piece.

The Harmon Hotel and Condominium Tower was supposed to be the centerpiece of MGM Resorts International’s $8.5 billion CityCenter development. Instead, the building stands unfinished on the Las Vegas, Nevada strip wrapped in a $1 million tarp designed to make the building look functional. All construction work on the inside of the building has been halted since 2008 as legal battles have been fought between the building’s design engineers, contractors, and owner. The Harmon’s $30 million floor-by-floor demolition received approval from a Clark County court in August 2013.

The Harmon originally was designed to have 49 floors with 400 hotel rooms and 207 condominium units. The hotel was intended to be a non-gaming luxury hotel that was part of the larger CityCenter development. CityCenter included other commercial, hotel-casino, and residential properties in Las Vegas. Construction on the Harmon was halted after 26 stories in 2008 after inspectors discovered faulty steel rebar in the first 15 floor’s columns. At the time, the hotel’s design was changed to stop at 28 floors, and the condominium units were removed from the plans. The condominium buyers were given the option of a full refund or the opportunity to buy a unit in another MGM property.

A 2011 report published by California-based engineering consultancy Weidlinger Associates found the Harmon Hotel beyond repair even though an earlier government report found the building repairable. According to the report, the structure is at great risk of collapse if a strong earthquake occurs. CityCenter officials predict that there is a 50% chance of an earthquake of high enough magnitude to collapse the building occurring within 30 years. Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez has ordered that after opposing lawyers collect what evidence they can, the Harmon will be demolished.  Although the demolition was given approval to move forward by a judge, the lawyers representing the builder believe that the building should remain standing as evidence in the lawsuit. They believe that if MGM was so concerned about people’s safety they shoud have done more to earthquake-proof the empty structure at some point over the last six years.  A trial date has been set for September of this year to determine who is responsible for the building’s defects.

The Harmon’s issues are not the only safety problems that affected the Las Vegas strip since 2008. The Las Vegas Sun reported serious safety flaws at other CityCenter and Las Vegas construction sites in 2009. Twelve workers were killed in an 18-month stretch on job sites, and half of the fatalities occurred at CityCenter projects. The construction boom led Las Vegas to having the nation’s highest rate of construction deaths in 2009.

Sources: 8 News NowReview Journal

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