BEAM US UP, VEGAS: Ceremonial hoisting of final construction beam marks milestone for Las Vegas Convention Center District expansion
Lime-green vest-wearers hug sunburnt-orange vest-wearers in Day-Glo embraces. Shouts of “YEAH, BABY!” bubble up in the din, sprinkled with bursts of “WOO-HOO!” Black markers are poised over a white behemoth — 60 feet long and 90,000 pounds of it, idling at ground level (but not for long).
“C’mon everybody, this is your moment of glory,” cajoles a hard-hatted supervisor at this festive construction site at Convention Center Drive and Paradise Road, where the ongoing expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center District (LVCCD) is about to take a bow in the hot morning sun.
“Sign! Sign! You already signed it? Sign it again!”
Signatures of tradesmen and tradeswomen in all variety of style — from graceful penmanship to chicken-scratch scrawls to heart-framed names sketched in school notebook-like doodles (we’re looking at you, “Dave & Heather”) — are about to be hoisted in a milestone moment.
Carpenters, iron workers, steel workers, pipe workers and skilled craftspeople of multiple construction disciplines — in total, about 650 of them from the combined teams of Martin-Harris Construction and Turner Construction — have imprinted their souls, their sweat and their names upon it. Watch it go up, up, up and … INTO PLACE.
And there it is: the crane-lifted placement on Aug. 20 of the final beam, maneuvered with ceremonial fanfare, for what will be the new Las Vegas Convention Center exhibition hall — all 600,000 square feet of it.
“I got a little bit of a shiver,” says Brian Yost, COO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA, which produces Las Vegas Newswire) after the hoisting, the beam adorned with an America flag, banners bearing construction and union logos, and a compact, symbolic evergreen tree plopped atop it. “I was looking at the two tradesmen that were up there receiving that final beam and locking it into place. Just incredible admiration for the hard work that they do and the courage they exhibit, standing on the cutting edge of those beams. It brings it all into perspective.”
With the ceremony — which was followed by an appreciation lunch in the future hall’s location for all the project’s tradespeople — the expansion barrels ahead toward its planned December 2020 completion of the exhibition hall, in time for the massive CES convention in January 2021. The hall will include new meeting rooms, an outdoor patio with a view of the Strip, plus food concessions.
Overall, the 1.4-million square-foot expansion, which broke ground last year, includes renovation of the Convention Center’s existing 3.2 million square feet, at a total budget of $1.475 billion, slated to be finished in 2022.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic about the expansion and the renovation of our convention center property here,” says Yost. “Tourism represents $60 billion to the Southern Nevada economy, and we want to continue to drive that by driving business travel through meetings and exhibitions. We’re doing our part to fill the 15,000 hotel rooms that are under construction here in the destination.”
Pointing out that the LVCVA has solicited feedback from clients to help hone the expansion project, Yost adds that “our largest clients have told us they will help us fill this facility, no problem, and we’ve done it in a smart way. We’ve targeted our resources and our efforts (toward) the things we believe will be the biggest guest and client impact items.”
Another recently announced element in the expansion project is an underground, people-mover transit system, at a cost of $48,675,000, being designed and developed by Elon Musk’s Boring Company. That will include three stations and will carry autonomous vehicles throughout the convention center district.
Enthusiasm on the site is hot enough to match the 100 degree-plus temps bearing down on the crowd. “The project is on time, it’s looking great, it’s taking shape!” Yost enthuses. “The meeting rooms are starting to be framed out, the exhibit hall, you can start to see the vast expanse and the tremendous great open space down the center in that 270-foot span between the columns, which will make it the largest span in North America. It couldn’t be better.”
As the fill-out of the exhibition hall continues, the construction team is expected to nearly double. “The biggest challenge is the pace,” says Guy Martin, president of Martin-Harris Construction. “It’s about an $850 million job we’re going to complete in 26 months. We have 14 months to finish it from where it sits right now. That requires that we put $1.7 million of work in place every single calendar day.” He’s not shy about enlisting aid.
“If you have a friend, a family member, someone else in the same trade as you or any other trade, contact the subcontractors that are part of this project or the local trade unions,” Martin says. “Get them involved, get them in the hall, get them ready to come to work because in the next 60 days, we’re going to add almost 400 people onto this site. And this is THE site to be on — RIGHT HERE!”
Adds Dewey Newton, senior vice president of Turner Construction: “As fast as we’re going, the quality of what’s happening is second to none. No one is skimping, no one is cutting back even though it’s super-fast. And 90 percent of the tradesmen and tradeswomen are Las Vegas-based. The pride of the workforce in the work is outstanding.”
And behind all the effort, it is hometown pride that most powers this project. “Today is all about the tradesmen and tradeswomen who choose this site every day over all the others in Las Vegas they could go to,” Martin says. “I’m a carpenter by trade and I’m a native — born and raised in Las Vegas. I’ve never lived or worked in any other city. To know that I’m participating in something that will continue to elevate my city to a position and status in an industry that can’t be reached at any other city in the world? That’s a special feeling.”
To offer feedback on this story or suggestions for future stories on Las Vegas Newswire, contact Managing Editor Steve Bornfeld at SBornfeld@lvcva.com.