Construction Industry: Towering Doubts
October 30, 2017
To celebrate Exponent's 50th Anniversary, we created a book featuring our most notable projects from the last decade. Below is an example of our work in the Construction Industry.

Towering Doubts: A Las Vegas boutique hotel makes a journey from marquee property to demolition before even opening.

The Harmon was a high-rise building in the CityCenter development on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. The tower was designed as a non-gaming boutique hotel, featuring an elliptical layout and highly reflective exterior, and commenced construction in 2007. Ultimately the hotel was called The Harmon Hotel, Spa & Residences, with a planned 400 hotel rooms and 207 high-end condominiums, with a pool deck to overlook the Las Vegas Strip from the rooftop.

In 2008, the owner decided to top construction at the 26th floor, eliminating the upper level residences. The reason given was that the tower had been constructed with serious defects related to the steel reinforcement (rebar). Litigation dominated the next several years, some parties arguing that the building was an earthquake hazard and therefore should be demolished, while others maintained that the construction defects were readily reparable, and that the decision to demolish the building was chiefly motivated by downgraded sales forecasts associated with the concurrent financial crisis.

On behalf of Gerdau Steel, Exponent was asked to evaluate the reported construction problems to determine if the tower’s structural integrity had been compromised and, if so, to identify engineering solutions. Exponent concluded that, notwithstanding some construction problems, the as-constructed building, capped at 26 stories, had more than sufficient strength. However, had the building been constructed to its originally planned 49 stories, it would have been vulnerable to earthquake shaking because of design, not construction, deficiencies. The litigation settled out of court, and the building was fully demolished by November 2015.