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Construction Defects May Lead to Destruction on the Vegas Strip

After spending at least $279 million, MGM Resorts International recently announced its intention to implode the Harmon Hotel, a boutique-style destination hotel that was to be a highlight of the CityCenter entertainment complex that opened on the Las Vegas Strip in 2009. The decision is based on what MGM says are serious and fundamental construction defects that render the building beyond repair.

Construction of the Harmon Hotel began in 2007, at the height of the Las Vegas Construction boom. Planned as a nongaming facility targeted toward the young, hip, and wealthy, the hotel was to include 400 hotel rooms as well as approximately 200 condo residences, and a rooftop pool overlooking The Strip.

One year into construction, an inspection found significant structural defects–defects so severe that construction was halted immediately and indefinitely. Clark County inspectors determined that critical steel reinforcements, commonly referred to as rebar, were improperly installed, causing serious public safety concerns. Reports following the inspection state that the building would be unable to withstand a code-level earthquake.

While county inspectors discovered the Harmon’s structural flaws, it is not guaranteed that county officials will approve MGM’s demolition request. Because MGM is embroiled in civil litigation with the building’s general contractor, Perini Building Company, over whether the property’s design or construction is to blame for the safety concerns, the Clark County District Court has prohibited MGM from touching, let alone imploding, the building while the case continues. MGM asserts that razing the building is the best way to relieve the city of a nonfunctioning structure and potential safety hazard. Perini claims that any issues primarily stem from MGM design problems rather than implementation, and that MGM is attempting to destroy evidence by destroying the building.

Determining if the Harmon is structurally sound, and furthermore whether it is reasonable to repair any flaws that do exist, is at the heart of assigning liability in this case, and should be a primary factor in granting or denying MGM’s request to demolish the building.

Construction Defect & Design Failure Expert Witness

Pierre Handle, P.E. evaluates building projects in California and nationwide to identify the cause of problems and determine whether design and/or construction played a role in a structural failure. If you need a civil engineer to assess liability and appear as an expert witness in your case, contact Engineering Expert Witnesses today for a free initial consultation.

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