A new report claims that Foster + Partners’ unfinished Harmon Hotel tower on the Las Vegas Strip is beyond repair and could potentially collapse in a “code-level” earthquake.
Owner MGM Resorts International recently commissioned Weidlinger Associates, a California-based engineering consulting firm, to perform a structural assessment of the 400-room, oval-shaped high-rise that anchors the northeast corner of CityCenter.
The report, whose findings were made available July 11, represents the latest salvo in a battle that dates to 2009. It says the 28-story tower’s construction defects are “so pervasive and varied in character that it is not possible to quickly implement a temporary or permanent repair,” and questions “whether repairs are possible.”
On Tuesday, government officials ordered MGM to turn over substantiating tests, documents, and calculations from their report by August 15 and devise a remedy for the half-built tower, including possible demolition.
Weidlinger Associates’ findings contradict a 36-page government report released January 31, which stated that the building is “structurally stable under design loads from a maximum-considered earthquake event.” Houston-based Walter P Moore performed the structural assessment on behalf of Clark County, Nevada.
The Harmon is at the center of an ongoing bitter lawsuit between MGM and its general contractor, Perini Building Company, a unit of Tutor Perini Corporation (Sylmar, California), over construction defects, namely improperly installed reinforcing steel inside link beams on 15 floors.
The building was nearly lopped in half in January 2009 as part of a cost-cutting measure, trimming 207 high-end residences, of which fewer than half had sold. The move saved $600 million in construction costs, and deferred another $200 million in expenses needed to finish interiors.
MGM’s lawsuit claims that Harmon has "substantial defective construction" resulting in "hundreds of millions of dollars in estimated damages.” The building’s problems are the result of “design defects” but are fixable, claims Perini in a July 12 statement. Perini, MGM's lawsuit claims, believes “the Harmon is worth more dead than alive to MGM.”
This article was updated and corrected on July 18, 2011.