Best Residential/Hospitality: MGM Springfield
Owner: MGM Resorts International
Lead Design Firm: Freidmutter Group
General Contractor: AECOM Tishman
Civil Engineer: Allen & Major Associates
Structural Engineer: DeSimone Consulting Engineers
MEP Engineer: Giovanetti Shulman Associates
Subcontractors: Berlin Steel; NER Construction Management (Masonry Restoration)
Building a 775,000-sq-ft casino and entertainment venue on a tight urban location included rehabilitating, renovating and reimagining some 20 buildings, including historic buildings that stood on the site for more than a century.
One of the biggest challenges for this $960-million, mixed-use design-build project—the largest single private project in western Massachusetts—was relocating a 450-ton historic church at the center of the planned development to the eastern corner of the site, the team says. After moving the church, the team reinforced framing for additional live loads, removed large portions of load-bearing walls and created a new entrance to transform the space where the church once stood into a retail venue.
“It was logistically very difficult to build something like this, but I thought it was a huge benefit to the city in that they revitalized an area that was decimated by a tornado,” one judge said, referring to a 2011 storm. “Pumping $1 billion into this project, in that area, and saving the historical elements … transformed Springfield in a lot of ways.”
The team also conducted preservation work on portions of the 172-year-old Union House Hotel, once considered the city’s premier hotel. The masonry building, structurally unsound and sorely in need of repair, required much work in collaboration with the Springfield Historical Commission.
During installation of new foundations and supporting structures, the team retained, restored and temporarily supported the existing facade along Main Street. “Window openings were rebuilt and enlarged, while an envelope consultant developed a modified original brick facade in accordance with Massachusetts’s strict energy codes,” the team says.
To meet the hard deadline for completing the project, the team relied on a large pool of workers and collaborated with more than 200 contractors. During construction and into opening, the team says it was committed to employing local construction and full-time gaming workers. “They had ties to the Springfield workforce; they tried to get locals work,” another judge said.
As a project that involved multiple renovations, fit-outs and new buildings constructed concurrently it took “a monumental effort” from all parties in the development process, including contractors and the local community, the team says.
Completed slightly ahead of schedule, the project required years of planning to construct, rehabilitate, renovate and repurpose historically significant buildings incorporated into the development. Unlike more typical casinos where visitors spend their time within the development, this project is based on an outward concept that encourages visitors to explore the local community, the team says.
Initial market research projects an increase of more than 20,000 visitors per day on peak weekends, resulting in the addition of several million dollars (not including tax revenue) annually into the community.