An engineer hired by the builders of a controversial tower on the Las Vegas Strip says the empty building can be repaired and doesn’t need to be torn down. MGM Resorts, half-owner of the Harmon Tower in CityCenter, contends the tower, which has never been occupied, can’t be salvaged.
The dispute has been going on for four years, ever since the Clark County building inspectors issued corrective-action orders to the Harmon. MGM Resorts has asked for permission to tear down the building, which they argue is unsafe, especially in an earthquake.
But an engineer hired by contractor Perini Building Co. testified in a hearing this week there are ways to permanently repair the building.
Steve Schiller, president of John A. Martin & Associates, said computer models show an earthquake “could cause loads to shift back and forth across floors four through seven, placing an extraordinary stress on some walls,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
But reinforcing the Harmon at certain key points would help address the shear reversal hazard, he said at the hearing. Eight columns bolstered by metal plates called flapjacks would be installed from subterranean levels to the fourth floor, he testified.
The contractor is blaming the bulk of the defects on the tower’s design.
"The design issues we were addressing are more significant than the construction issues," Mr. Schiller said.
The hearings are a prelude to a trial on a lawsuit between MGM and Perini, which is working through the system; MGM has refused to pay $186 million in construction invoices, citing the construction defects.
The tower, designed by Foster + Associates, had a troubled history from the start. In 2008, Clark County inspectors discovered that in several instances rebar was either missing or improperly installed in the tower. Eventually CityCenter, which is co-owned by MGM and Dubai World, reduced the height of the hotel from 47 to 26 stories, amid the slowdown in condominium sales.
The empty tower is now used as a billboard to promote shows on The Strip.