In the heart of the action, just steps off the Strip, the T-Mobile Arena plays host for Las Vegas’s biggest events and parties. That means huge crowds – along with plenty of famous VIPs and their entourages.
The multipurpose venue needed long roof spans to support extensive stage rigging for a variety of sports and entertainment. The foundations and seating structures had to hold the weight of 20,000 fans. And a large cantilevered VIP balcony had to withstand the collective force of over 600 dancing bodies. All of this on an aggressive, fast-track construction schedule.
It Started with Teamwork
To speed construction, we released three structural packages five months before the full permit set. This required early multidisciplinary coordination.
The first team challenge? Engineering the massive base for the eight-level elliptical arena. Keeping budget and sustainability in mind, we tailor-made a hybrid foundation system that reduced material use and avoided extensive excavation of hard soils.
Up top, we created an economical long-span truss system beneath the double-curved, domed roof. Although lightweight, it supports a substantial theatrical rigging grid that can hold the equivalent of two Boeing 737s! The scoreboard fully retracts between the trusses opening even more views through the column-free interior.
In the 82-foot-high entry atrium, we used custom Y-shaped super columns to perform triple-duty. They support the enclosure, the structure above, and the cantilevered exterior balcony.
We Built an Alliance
Outside, the multi-use VIP Balcony is perfect for performers or spectators. But its angled, tapered profile couldn’t fit typical cantilever beams. So we devised a steel truss system supported on both the vestibule columns and the atrium columns.
But we realized that the movement of partiers dancing in sync could “bounce” the lightweight structure. While perfectly safe, the vibration might induce panic – not fun! Solidifying the balcony with more steel or concrete would be too heavy, very expensive and less sustainable. So we tapped vibration control specialists at Swallow Acoustic Consultants Ltd. (SACL) to design a tuned mass damper (TMD) solution that would reduce the motion at a fraction of the cost. Their design enabled a 50-percent reduction in steel needed for the balcony. (How does it work? See image captions for more details.)
We Found Synergy
Above the VIP Balcony, a giant LED screen draws attention from the Strip. The 24-hour, high-definition media mesh required a complex structure tied to the building enclosure. Joining forces with the façade specialists and cable-mesh system designer, we got it secured.
At 650,000 square feet, T-Mobile Arena is the largest indoor venue in the region – and its most popular. Since 2016, it’s hosted up to 150 events annually – including the Billboard Music Awards, Rolling Stones’ concerts and Cirque du Soleil performances.
For us, the LEED Gold-certified arena’s technical achievements are a point of pride. But the project was a success in more important ways. First and foremost, by making our clients happy. But also by making Thornton Tomasetti stronger: the collaboration with SACL was so valuable that we acquired the firm. Now, our integrated team provides the ultimate efficiency on similar projects.