Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cosmopolitan Resort Rising On Vegas Strip

Cosmopolitan Resort Rising On Vegas Strip

By Tony Illia
August 13, 2007
Rocky Mountain Construction

New resort will bring urban high-rise design and sophistication to the Las Vegas Strip

Just at a time when the Las Vegas real estate industry expressed the need to have more vertical and urbanized approaches to architecture on the Strip, Ian Bruce Eichner, CEO of 3700 Associates LLC, owner and developer of the Cosmopolitan, was also setting his sights on Las Vegas for his next real estate endeavor. Eichner has already made his footprint in the high-rise real estate market with projects including the Manhattan Club in New York City and the Continuum development in Miami's South Beach district.

"The challenge for the Cosmopolitan project was to find a prime location at the center of the Strip where I could create a mixed-use, urban, high-rise property," notes Eichner. "I wanted to merge the concept of a luxury condo-hotel with an equally spectacular full-service hotel, retail, gaming, and meeting space development. Additionally, I wanted to bring in the Las Vegas business model that has been trending toward non-gaming attractions and facilities."

To make Eichner's "Manhattanized" vision for Las Vegas a reality, 3700 Associates LLC joined forces with Miami-based Arquitectonica as design architect and Las Vegas-based Friedmutter Group as executive architect on the project. Grand Hyatt will make its grand entrance to the Las Vegas Strip along with Eichner; the global brand was chosen by 3700 Associates LLC to manage meetings and conventions at the Cosmopolitan.

The two 53-story glass towers, East and West, that will comprise the property, will fit snugly right up to the property line of the 8.5-acre site and soar 600 feet high between the Bellagio and MGM Mirage's future CityCenter urban complex.

"The complex's stunning glass-enclosed atrium directly on the Strip will be an attraction in itself," notes Eichner.

A Different Perspective
As a result of the structure's limited property space, Eichner opted to look below grade in order to gain more space for his project. He adopted a subterranean parking garage concept that is widely used in the more urbanized cities in the United States where buildings are commonly right on top of one another.

Most of the parking garages for the hotels and resorts in Las Vegas are built on a foundation above ground because of the high water table. The Cosmopolitan's underground parking garage consists of five levels and is similar in design, but deeper, than the Palazzo Resort's subterranean parking garage under construction near the Venetian on the north end of the Strip.

"To accommodate the 85-foot-deep below-grade parking structure, concrete slurry walls needed to be built 110 feet deep into the ground," says Steve DeWees, project executive with Perini Building Co., general contractor for the project. While construction for the Cosmopolitan started in October 2005, DeWees and his team started building the slurry walls in early 2006.

"To build the 30-inch-thick and 24-foot-wide slurry wall panel sections, we drilled holes with a hydro-mill and then placed 12-inch round tremie pipes into the holes with a funnel at the top. Ready-mix trucks delivered the concrete via the funnel, through the tremie pipe and down into the ground," says DeWees. "Delivering the concrete via the tremie system pipe versus through only the hydro-mill-dug hole, which was filled with groundwater, kept the concrete intact. This method also prevented the concrete from bouncing off the rebar, which causes the aggregates to separate."

DeWees and his team also installed a permanent dewatering system beneath the resort and casino.

"The dewatering system is the first of its kind in Las Vegas and was necessary because the water table is only 16 feet below ground level," says DeWees. "The system will pump out up to 100,000 gallons of water a day for the life of the complex. The dewatering system is constructed of sump pumps, gravel and different fabrics."

Once the slurry walls were complete and the dewatering system was in place in July 2006, an amazing 850,000 cubic yards of soil was excavated by large backhoes and other excavators for the subterranean parking garage.

"As we excavated deeper, the site resembled a gigantic bathtub and the concrete slurry walls were exposed," notes DeWees. "We installed 3,000 tiebacks 85 feet deep through the slurry wall panels and into the adjacent soil which support the concrete and prevent the walls from caving in."

The tiebacks are a temporary support system for the concrete slurry walls until the structural steel is completed for the garage.

"Deep underground parking like that used in the Cosmopolitan project will become an increasingly familiar sight in Las Vegas as new resorts take up as much developable land as possible on the Strip," says DeWees.

It's All in the Mix
After excavation was complete, Perini called in Las Vegas-based Quinn Concrete Pumping to pour and place concrete for the various footings, mat foundations and concrete slabs for the Cosmopolitan.

"We've worked with Perini before and were pleased to work with them again on such a monumental project," notes Steve Heimark, operations manager for Quinn. "We knew our Putzmeister truck-mounted concrete boom pumps and Telebelt® would be huge assets due to the need for multiple boom lengths and the shear volume of the mat pour."

According to DeWees, there has been one main concrete mix and strength placed by Quinn Concrete Pumping's Putzmeister equipment since they started working on the project in December 2006.

"The 6,000-psi concrete mix being placed by Quinn's boom pumps is for the continuous footings, various mat and concrete slabs, and the West and East tower mat foundations," comments DeWees. "The mix is made up of 57-percent coarse aggregate and 43-percent fine aggregate which includes water, cement and fly ash."

An earthen ramp was built for the boom pumps and ready-mix trucks for easy access down into the bathtub-like hole.

Quinn's first three pours on the Cosmopolitan project site were for the 8-foot-thick subterranean parking garage and West tower foundations in December 2006 and January 2007.

A 42-meter, 52Z-meter and three 58-meter boom pumps and a truck-mounted telescopic belt conveyor worked together to place a total of 26,320 cubic yards of concrete 85 feet below grade in the first three pours.

"Each of the concrete mat pours started at midnight and was completed the following afternoon," notes DeWees.

"Our 42X-meter and two 58-meter pumps stretched from the ground level down into the hole to place the concrete. At the same time, our 52Z-meter and 58-meter boom pumps and TB 130 were down in the hole placing concrete," says Heimark. "It was a true joint effort by the six different machines. We even had our 42X-meter boom pump at ground level delivering concrete into the large 19.4-cubic-foot-capacity hopper of our 52Z-meter pump down in the hole where it placed the concrete."

Following the pours for the subterranean parking garage and West tower foundations, Quinn placed 10,140 cubic yards of concrete with their boom pumps for the East tower foundation in February and March, 2007. Additionally, Quinn handled the placement of other concrete footings and foundations for the project in early 2007.

"To date, Quinn Concrete Pumping has placed about 68,000 cubic yards of concrete at the Cosmopolitan and will be on the project site through the end of 2008," comments DeWees.

Things are Looking Up
Perini Building Co. started placing 42,000 tons of structural steel for the five-level underground parking structure and the first five floors above ground in April. Project officials held a traditional Japanese blessing and sake pouring ceremony to mark the erection of the project's first piece of structural steel. On April 9, roughly 100 project officials were on hand as a 300-ton crawler crane lifted a 50-foot-tall, 60,000-pound box girder into place. The Cosmopolitan will use a total of 41,000 tons of structural steel.

Blessing the ground and pouring sake over the first piece of vertical steel are important Japanese traditions. (Cosmopolitan's steel fabricator is Tokyo-based JFE Engineering Corp.) It's considered bad luck to forego such rituals. Project officials additionally placed a pinch of salt at each of the four corners of the steel beam to purify the soil. And engineering drawings in both English and Japanese were signed by team executives and placed into a time capsule at the base of the beam to commemorate the event.

"The structural steel will support the massive 350,110 cubic yards of concrete that will be placed for the remaining 50 floors of the complex," notes DeWees. "We have also just started building the concrete elevator core for the two towers."

The crystal-shaped, 53-story dual high-rises will house a combined 3,000 condo-hotel rooms, rising up from a five-level podium. The steel-framed, glass low-rise will contain a 75,000-square-foot casino, a 150,000-square-foot convention center, a 50,000-square-foot spa, and a 1,800-seat theater. There will also be 300,000 square feet worth of brand-name retail shops and restaurants accessible from the Strip.

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