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Feature Story - January 2008

Towers of Power

New $3 Billion Cosmopolitan Packs a Punch

By Tony Illia

The Cosmopolitan, the newest megaresort to hit the Las Vegas Strip, will bring almost 7 million sq ft of luxury condo-hotel, gaming and entertainment space.


The Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino, the Las Vegas Strip’s brash newcomer, is taking shape at the northwest corner of Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, South.

The $3 billion, 6.96 million-sq-ft megaresort is being developed by 3700 Associates LLC - an investment entity headed by New York City-based Ian Bruce Eichner - the developer responsible for such landmark projects as the Manhattan Club on West 56th Street in New York and the Continuum in Miami’s South Beach.

“I wanted to merge the concept of a luxury condo-hotel with an equally luxurious hotel, retail, gaming and meeting space development,” Eichner says. “We’ve designed the Cosmopolitan to capture the aura and excitement found only in famous metropolitan cities.”

Towers of Power

The 2,998-room condo, hotel, casino and entertainment complex rests on 8.5 acres with near-zero lot lines. Phoenix-based Perini Building Co. is the general contractor under a $1.925 billion guaranteed maximum price contract that carries $50,000 a day in bonuses or penalties if the job is completed before or after Dec. 18, 2009.

The Cosmopolitan occupies some prime real estate, with the Bellagio, Jockey Club and Project CityCenter as neighbors.

The project maximizes its space by going down 75 ft to create a five-level, 3,800-vehicle underground parking garage. The feat required 75 trucks making 110,000 trips to remove nearly 850,000 cu yds of dirt using a 100-ft-long earthen access ramp at Harmon Avenue. Wesley Corp., Las Vegas, was the earthwork contractor.

“The challenge for the Cosmopolitan project was to find a prime location at the center of the Strip,” says Eichner, who calls it one of the last key Strip locations left.

The excavation left a giant bathtub-like opening that is formed through 30-in.-thick, 24-ft-wide slurry concrete wall panels with 2,881 tiebacks, 85 ft deep. The massive cavity uses 17 million lbs of reinforcing steel rebar and 90,000 cu yds of 6,000-psi concrete. The 43-acre hole entailed pumping out 100,000 gallons of water daily because the water table is only 16 ft below ground level.

“The project uses a permanent dewatering system that’s the first of its kind in Las Vegas,” says Steve DeWees, Perini’s project executive. “It will continue pumping out up to 100,000 gallons of water a day for the life of the complex.”

The system is constructed of sump pumps, gravel and different geo-textile fabrics as well as eight underground vaults, each measuring 12 by 20 by 8 ft.

Cosmopolitan’s 330,000-sq-ft footprint rises from the parking structure into 100-ft-tall retail, casino and entertainment podium.

Designed by Arquitectonica - the Miami-based architecture firm responsible for the Westin New York at Times Square - with Friedmutter Group of Las Vegas as architect-of-record, the Cosmopolitan’s four-level, steel-framed low-rise is clad in a combination of glass, EIFS and metal paneling.

“Las Vegas projects, in the past, have been set back from the street with huge porte-cochere entrances,” says Bernardo Fort-Brescia, principal of Arquitectonica. “The Cosmopolitan, however, is a truly urban project that reaches toward the sidewalk and engages the energy of the Strip.”  He describes the design as a “purely abstract architectural expression.”

The Strip-front portion features a crystalline-shaped, transparent glass facade with 265,000 sq ft of boutique shops and gourmet restaurants. 

The resort also contains a 40,000-sq-ft spa, salon and fitness center; 1,800-seat theater; 150,000-sq-ft convention center; and 80,000-sq-ft casino. It’s topped by a five-acre outdoor recreation area that consists of sandy beach, pools, a nightclub and multilevel bungalows and cabanas that overlook the Strip.

“We didn’t want a themed property,” says Leslie Eichner, 3700 Associates’ chief creative officer. “We wanted to do something with a lot of character that hadn’t been done in the market before. We wanted people to walk by and see a party going on.”

The party continues skyward with two 600-ft-tall twisting blue glass towers, which rise from the podium. DeSimone Consulting Engineers, New York City, is the structural engineer.

The 52-story prism-shaped skyscrapers combine for 2,998 condo-hotel and hotel units each with cantilevered, recessed glass balconies and Japanese soaking tubs. Units range from 705 sq ft to 1,702 sq ft in size. Chicago-based Grand Hyatt Corp. is the hotel manager, with Wolgang Puck as exclusive caterer. It marks the first time the culinary superstar and restaurateur has provided full-service dining for a Strip property. 

Perini is utilizing five tower and six mobile cranes to erect the cast-in-place, post-tensioned towers via flying forms. Cranes must run through building openings that later get closed. Due to site constraints, the project, which requires a total of 42,000 tons of steel and 350,110 cu yds of concrete, is forced to stage materials 10 mi away at a rented property.

Tokyo-based JFE Engineering Corp. is the steel fabricator, and Nevada Ready Mix, Las Vegas, is the concrete supplier.

“Everything has to be carefully choreographed to get deliveries for that day’s work,” DeWees says.

Cosmopolitan will see 110 subcontractors, 100 superintendents and engineers and 3,000 workers onsite during the height of construction activity. Workers are bused into the jobsite because there is no onsite parking available. Perini is running two shifts, though people are coming and going 24 hours a day. The project is organized into three teams, including the podium and garage, the east tower and the west tower. There is also a mechanical/electrical/plumbing unit for the entire development.

Construction has entailed some logistical challenges and coordination with the neighboring $7.4 billion, 18.67-million-sq-ft Project CityCenter, which is also under way. Perini, however, is the general contractor for both projects. Although work occurs concurrently at both jobs, each has its own set of subcontractors and work crews and teams.


Key Players

Developer/Owner: 3700 Associates LLC
General Contractor: Perini Building Co.
Design Architect: Arquitectonica
Architect-of-Record: Friedmutter Group
Structural Engineer: DeSimone Consulting Engineers
Landscape Architect: Martha Schwartz Partners
Interior Design: Paul Duesing Partners
Mechanical/Plumbing: Hansen Mechanical Contractors
Electrical: Dynalectric of Nevada
Earthwork: Wesley Corp.
Concrete: Ceco Concrete Construction; Nevada Ready Mix
Steel: JFE Engineering Corp.
Other: KHS&S Contractors

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