Two upcoming hot tickets in Las Vegas both will feature the Harmon Hotel—once the planned showstopper of the huge CityCenter development, but now unfinished and unopened.

Image: ENR
The abandoned Harmon Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.

The $279-million hotel soon faces court-approved demolition and also is the subject of a construction-defect trial set for next February that pits co-owner MGM Resorts International against general contractor Tutor Perini Building Corp. Both events will be closely watched.

Still unclear, however, is what will happen to the prominent Las Vegas Strip location after the hotel tower's estimated $30-million demolition, which was approved Aug. 23 by a Clark County court. Harmon, designed by Foster + Partners, anchors the entrance to the $8.5-billion, 76-acre CityCenter site, which opened in 2009.

Trouble surfaced two years after the hotel broke ground in 2006, when improperly installed reinforcing-link-beam steel was found across 15 floors. County inspectors said that, in 2008, third-party inspector Converse Consultants falsified 62 daily reports that steel was properly installed when it was not. County inspectors also missed the problems.

As a result, CityCenter co-owner and operator MGM Resorts International lopped the 48-story Harmon in half, shedding 207 high-end residences, of which less than half had sold. The move trimmed $600 million from the project, providing financial relief for the cash-strapped 18-million-sq-ft CityCenter as it proceeded in a recession.

The 26-story Harmon has since languished in limbo while fueling a protracted bitter legal fight between the owner and contractor over building costs, defects and repairs.

"Perini stands by its opinion that design conflicts contributed to the Harmon Hotel structural issues and that portions of the structural drawings, as designed and permitted, contained elements of reinforcing steel that could not be installed as drawn," says Tutor Perini Buildings President Craig Shaw.

Harmon's design called for pouring top portions of 8-ft-thick link beams with the floor slab, which is a tricky procedure given the tight and exact spacing of reinforcing rebar. Tightly knit rebar resulted in congestion, the contractor says, prompting necessary field adjustments.

Stirrup hooks, in some cases, were spaced incorrectly and extended past the floor, prompting workers to cut them off so they would not show, county inspectors say.