"A Glittering Center" - the Treehouse at CityCenter

The Treehouse at CityCenter "Crystals"

SOURCE: Civil Engineering Magazine · PUBLISHED: July 2010 · AUTHOR: Robert L. Reid

Below is an excerpt from the full 12-page feature.

Considered the largest privately funded construction project in the nation, the new CityCenter development, in Las Vegas, was designed by a group of world-renowned architects and engineering firms, and this 'city within a city' has earned high marks for environmental stewardship. Constructed in just under four years, the nearly 18 millon sq. ft. development cost an estimated $8.5 billion.

The Strip in Las Vegas, which features fantasy hotels and casinos along Las Vegas Boulevard that were designed to recall such great cities as Paris, Venice, and New York, is now also home to a mammoth new development that has been dubbed by ts owners a city within a city. The nearly 18 million sq. ft. project - officially known as CityCenter - was jointly funded by the Las Vegas-based entertainment company MGM MIRAGE (now MGM Resorts International) and the Dubayy-based investment firm Dubai World, the latter through its wholly owned subsidiary Infinity World Development Corporation.

Located on a 67-acre site bordered on the north by the Bellagio, on the south by Monte Carlo, on the east by Las Vegas Boulevard, and on the west by Frank Sinatra Drive, CityCenter features four new hotels: the ARIA Resort & Casino, the Vdara Hotel & Spa, and the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas are all open, but the fourth has not yet been completed. The site also includes a new convention center and a theater, both connected to the ARIA facilities; the Veer Towers, two high-rise residential buildings that lean away from each other; an immense complex known as the Crystals Retail and Entertainment District because of the crystalline complexity of the shapes and angles of its roof; an automated people mover (APM) connecting most of the major buildings; aboveground and belowground parking facilities; a power plant with a very light environmental footprint; and even a new fire station that will serve both CityCenter and parts of surrounding Clark County.

Within Crystals, Halcrow Yolles engineers helped to support a structure called the Treehouse, a steel-framed, wood-clad abstract sculpture that suggests a tree; its "trunk" leaves space for a restaurant at the mezzanine level of Crystals. Designed by the Rockwell Group and structurally engineered by McLaren Engineering Group, of West Nyack, New York, the Treehouse is 65 ft high and features a branching section that cantilevers approximately 30 ft. from the main trunk, explains William Gorlin, P.E., S.E., M.ASCE, the McLaren vice president in chare of the firm's entertainment division. McLaren was also involved in the structural and mechanical engineering of the performance and scenery equipment for the theater at the ARIA complex and with the rigging of the lights in the ARIA ballrooms.

The Treehouse was constructed of welded tubular steel sections. Its trunk sections are supported at the ground level and the mezzanine level; the cantilevering branch portion is supported by a system of four cables that Halcrow Yolles engineers suspended from the Crystals roof structure, Gorlin notes.

See also: Vegas' CityCenter Unveils McLaren's "Tree House" Sculpture.