For a massive complex like the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas’ new CityCenter, it’s easy to see the reliance on metal in its design. The 28,542 square feet of architectural steel mesh guarding a portion of the 3.8-million-square-foot attraction is just a sampling of the metal incorporated into the structure.
The resort employs the detail and luxury remarked in New Haven, Conn.–based architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli’s other designs, which include the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Aria’s façade plays into the theme of glitz and glamour requisite of the city’s buildings by reflecting bright sunlight during the day and utilizing projected light to cast a lustrous hue at night.
But the façade, from Cambridge, Md.-based Cambridge Architectural, also serves functional purposes, shading a stretch of the complex along Frank Sinatra Boulevard while guarding the podium structure and the pool deck’s exit stairway from street view. Larry Windsor, director of sales and business development for Cambridge Architectural, worked with the architects to develop a façade that matched the design goals for the site and met building codes that required a certain amount of open space in the mesh for ventilation on the stairs. That included creating a new pattern, dubbed “Pellican” after the project’s architects.
“One of the biggest challenges was that some of the basic products we had were not the opening size that [the architects] were looking for, so we had actually gone in manufacturing and came up with two or three different mesh patterns and we finally came to one that Pelli liked,” says Windsor.
Pelli Clarke Pelli also requested that the overlapping, S-curved panels be able to sidle a 9-foot radius, so one of the current attachment systems needed to be modified. The metal fabric spans tubing with custom-cut apertures integrated into a bracket and structural support design. To allow the mesh to undulate along the building, the system’s attachment tubes were curved.
“It’s a football field long, so with the scale of the material and the height, it was a challenge,” says Peter Follett, senior associate with Pelli Clarke Pelli, of the façade. “But I think having it on the curve and the way the connections and all the pieces were put together, it really made this beautiful lace on top of this structural background. It was the perfect solution for going in and looking at all the requirements we had.”
And being Las Vegas, the project’s larger budget allowed the entire complex-and the façade itself-to be meticulous with its products and design. According to Windsor, the cost to manufacture the façade materials was about 10 to 15 percent more than it would have been for its base products.
But within the scope of the entire project, Follett found that employing the mesh façade proved budget-friendly. “With all the choices for the different materials, this was something that was a very economical way of addressing the need to screen off these various elements and economically meet the aesthetics and code requirements into one thing,” he says.
Aria received LEED Gold certification from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council; the 100 percent recyclable façade contributes to this rating. Aria is located within the new CityCenter Las Vegas urban resort development, which is the largest privately funded construction project in the history of the U.S. to date. Construction on the façade was completed in the fall of 2009. Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects was joined by general contractor Perini Building Co., Henderson, Nev.