• Field Notes 05.09.2013

    Is the “world’s most expensive billboard” coming down?

    A few years back, we learned the Harmon Tower in the northeast corner of Las Vegas’ CityCenter might be torn down due to alleged construction defects. The 26-story building is considered susceptible to collapse in an earthquake and has remained unoccupied. Although the only “revenue” coming out of the building is from the large ads mounted to its Las Vegas Boulevard façade for upcoming CityCenter events, the debate has been long and complex. Last week saw a new development, bringing it one step closer to the end. By no means is it over yet.

    A Las Vegas judge granted the developer permission to proceed with the demolition of the tower last week. Experts stated there is a 50 percent chance an earthquake large enough to destroy the building will strike within 30 years. The LA Times article reporting on the case doesn’t mention who is paying for the demolition.

    The fallout (pun intended) from this one will be quite some time in the making. And, I’m curious to see how the building’s demolition will affect the outcome. If it’s imploded (“a previous plan was submitted” to the county), will the resulting debris provide any indication about which party was responsible for the defects? Or will the answers become clearer if the building is taken apart piece-by-piece, like construction in reverse?

    It’ll be interesting to see who is eventually cited as shouldering the most blame. Or will everyone have to sign a confidentiality agreement once a settlement is reached, much like Boston’s John Hancock Building in the late ’70s, where none of the associated parties were allowed to talk?  Since it’s Vegas: Bet the house. The only winners here are going to be the lawyers. Somebody will have to pay, and it won’t be the attorneys.

    Secondly, has anybody work on a curved curtainwall lately?  There’s been another concave curtain wall “death ray” report, this time from London. Someone’s Jaguar melted in the mist of the reflected light. How’s that for a quick stop on the way home from work? You run inside for a brief moment and come back to find your car a  puddle.Imagine that call to the insurance company: “All I did was park my car here, and when I came back…”

    And while some of these occurrences appear to be from concave walls, that’s not always the case.

    I love the geometry of complex buildings and curtainwalls, but if the surface is going to reflect sun, let’s make sure we check out just where that reflected light is going. Surely there’s software out there to help figure this out. Any animation software will allow a light source to be located, and resultant shadows can be shown in the rendering. But is anyone asking about reflectivity studies? Can’t the reflective property of the glass be sufficiently modeled to then show any concentrations of light on neighboring facades? If anybody has a software engineer for a brother-in-law, please have them contact me. I have two great app ideas, this one and another I’ll keep to myself for now…

    Billboards, demolition and curtainwalls aside, it’s been a week since word got out about Lyle Hill.  Lyle, please know there are a lot of people pulling for you. We can’t wait to see your next article and anticipate the punch line, knowing a smile, chuckle or belly laugh will shortly follow.

    Posted by Blogger @ 12:11 pm

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