Wednesday, September 7, 2011

By Zach Collins

At the end of last week, I had finalized my idea for my thesis project that I will be working on for the next year. I had decided on doing a Hotel/Casino high-rise with restaurants, clubs, lounges, and resort-like amenities in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During my meeting with Craig about my thesis project, possible committee members were discussed with an emphasis for Shannon McDonald to potentially be my Committee Chair. Afterwards, I ran into Shannon in the hall and talked to her about my thesis and asked if she would be interested and be my chair. After expressing great interest in my project, she gave me something to look up for my benefit. She had just heard on NPR that they were in the discussion of imploding an unopened, new hotel in Las Vegas. This interested me, so I went online to see what I could find.

The following information is according to NPR guest, Oskar Garcia, a reporter for the Associated Press, and Howard Stutz for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

With how the economy has been and the housing market slump along with the latest American recession, Vegas has suffered from unemployment rises and less tourism. In turn, there was an increase in available hotel rooms but not enough visitors to fill them. So, when MGM Resorts International proposed to implode the Harmon Tower, the new hotel that is a part of the 8.5 billion dollar City Center Complex, it seems that it could be because of the unused rooms. But in actuality, the tower hasn’t ever been open to the public. It is a beautiful blue building, but nonetheless, an empty shell.

The real reason for the proposed implosion is safety. A structural engineering firm inspected the tower and said that in the case of a major earthquake, the tower could collapse. MGM’s experts said that for public safety, the fastest and safest way to “fix” the problem was to implode it.

However, according to the Perini Building Co., who are the General Contractors for the project, said they could fix the problem. But they think MGM wants to cover up its design errors by destroying the building, in turn, destroying the evidence. Whether this is true, it is not known. But it does seem suspicious as why they wouldn’t want to try and fix it. Possibly too much money to repair? Or because of design flaws? Politics? The firm said that it would take 12-14 months to know for sure if they can repair the tower.

As of now, MGM is in the legalities of this situation and the approval process is underway for implosion. So it will be a while before knowing the fate for the Harmon Tower. Will it become a part of the esteemed Las Vegas skyline or simply be a lost idea in a brief moment of Vegas History?

NPR. “New Hotel on Las Vegas Strip Could Be Imploded.” 25 August 2011.

Stutz, Howard. “MGM Resorts Says It Will Demolish Harmon Tower.” 15 August 2011.

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