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An Iconic and Dynamic Façade


New T-Mobile Arena connects the Las Vegas strip with the surrounding desert

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas opened on April 6, 2016, launching a new era of entertainment for the city known for its glitz and glamor. The stadium, which broke ground on May 1, 2014, is located on approximately 16 acres, and is the centerpiece of a complete revitalization of the area between the New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts.

The $375 million joint-venture project between MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas, and AEG, Los Angeles, was designed by Kansas City, Mo.-based Populous. The 650,000-square-foot, 20,000-seat multipurpose venue will host up to 150 events a year, including Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, boxing, hockey, basketball, awards shows, concerts and bull riding. Additionally, the Vegas Golden Knights, an NHL expansion team, will start the 2017-18 season at the new stadium.

The LEED Gold-certified arena features an outward-sloping elliptical glass façade with a 9,000-square-foot LED video mesh overlay. It also has the first-ever exterior concert stage in the 2-acre Toshiba Plaza, which is used for pre-event functions and special events.

Made of concrete and steel, the arena includes 7,000 individual steel beams with a combined weight of 7,100 tons, according to the structural engineer, Thornton Tomasetti, Kansas City, Mo. A long-span roof covers the 350-foot by 450-foot seating bowl to create a fully column-free space for unobstructed views of the floor and stage area.


T-Mobile Arena, Las VegasContrasting Concepts

According to Populous, the design challenge was to tell a cohesive story about the City of Lights and its contrasting influences. The idea was to bring together both the desert and Spring Mountains that sit directly to the west with the glitz and glimmer of Las Vegas Boulevard to the east.

To combine the two differing inspirational aspects into one cohesive concept, Populous designed a sprawling glass façade on the northeast side of the arena. The LED video mesh overlay is interlaced with the exterior balconies to culminate in a symbolic representation of the city's lively energy and zest.

"It was our mission from the start to bring the opposing aspects of Las Vegas--the Strip and the desert--to a nexus point in the exterior design of T-Mobile Arena," says Robert Norvell, associate principal architect at Populous. "This goal heavily dictated how we planned the construction process, and which building materials we finally decided upon."


A Successful Partnership

Brent Reynolds, project executive at Crown Corr, Gary, Ind., says the company spent several months working directly with the design team, owner and general contractor to come up with ways to reduce costs for the exterior metal panel and curtainwall installations while keeping true to the architect's design intent. "This was an extremely successful partnership, as we were able to cut millions in project costs without negatively impacting the appearance or functionality of the arena," he says.

During the construction phase, Reynolds explains that they were given a 3-D model and some conceptual details that they had worked with the architect to create during the design assist phase. "With this in-hand, we were able to design not only a functional and aesthetically pleasing metal panel and glazed curtainwall enclosure system, but also the back-up structure that supports it," he says. "This structure consisted of both light-gauge and tube-steel framing, inclusive of geometrically complex tri-cord truss fabrications that resemble a roller coaster's framework. To do this, given the unique warped elliptical shape of the arena, it was necessary to computer model nearly every component of the structure and envelope assemblies. Constructability mockups were then built to ensure the materials chosen would bend in twist as anticipated in order to create the architects' intended design surface and maintain the desired geometry."


T-Mobile Arena, Las VegasCustom Panel Systems

On the north and west faces of the arena, the bowed bands spring forth, honoring the rustic topography and rich geological aesthetic of the surrounding mountainous environment. The bands, made up of more than 100,000 square feet of custom-fabricated metal shingles by A.R.J. Inc., Las Vegas, were coated with nine rustic colors of Minneapolis-based Valspar Corp.'s Fluropon Classic II coating. Behind the metal shingles is Moon Township, Pa.-based CENTRIA's Versawall insulted composite backup panels, which are visible inside the arena. The 135,000 square feet of 2 3/4-inch-thick, 22-gauge Versawall panels are galvanized with a two-coat Mica finish over a custom-designed curved HSS perimeter support system.

A combination of custom 18- and 20-gauge galvanized flat seam interlocking metal panels in three color bands make up the design. Each band consists of a custom base color, panels a shade lighter and a shade darker, in a pre-determined pattern that only repeats itself every 22 feet vertically and 120 feet horizontally. "The bands are split up by reveal strips, which are pre-formed three-dimensional metal shapes that lap over the flat seam panels at color band transitions, so the panels are actually cut on the diagonal and overlap underneath that reveal between color bands," Reynolds explains. "They maintain the same joinery, the same spacing, so it's almost as if the panel system continues underneath the reveal shape. There is no visible seam, they just appear to change color."

Valspar worked extensively with the architects and was tasked with color-matching the shades from the initial concept images. This process required the development of three primary shades to compose the metal bands, subdivided into three different hues for an added textured effect. Following several rounds of formulation, Valspar came up with nine coating colors that were customized from the three main shades of its Fluropon Classic II-Flaxen Gold, Titan Gold and Chestnut.

"Valspar was able to achieve a fantastic grouping of colors for the final application that everybody loved," says Norvell. "It's incredibly hard to formulate the subtle color change that we were targeting, and not only are the coatings visually pleasing, but they're also extremely functional and will maintain that richness of color."

The band pattern required Doug Coyle, director of engineering at Crown Corr to write a custom program that automatically replicated the pattern in the computer model and generated color-coded drawings for installation. "This highly involved pattern drove us to implement a unique crating and delivery procedure that would ensure easy access to individual colors as needed by multiple crews throughout the installation process," Reynolds explains.

In addition to the custom metal panel system, Crown Corr also installed 17,000 square feet of composite panels with a two-coat Kynar white finish over stud framing from DAMS Inc. Architectural Metals, Alsip, Ill., for the main entry soffit and balcony; 8,000 square feet of CENTRIA's Profile Series 1W-10A panels in a two-coat white Kynar finish over stud framing for the balcony soffits; and 20,000 square feet of CENTRIA's Profile Series ECOSCREEN MR3-36 20-gauge perforated panels with a stainless steel mill finish over a custom curved hot-dipped galvanized HSS structure for the screen wall; 45,000 square feet of glazed curtainwall and storefront entrances; and 2,000 square feet of CS louvers from Construction Specialties Inc., Cranford, N.J.


T-Mobile Arena, Las VegasGlass and Glazing

The T-Mobile Arena features a variety of glazing systems throughout. Giroux Glass Inc., Los Angeles, provided the exterior panel fabrication and installation of the entrance doors, along with the interior glass and glazing of the four VIP lounge doors, one VIP lobby door, 44 suite-level custom laminate glass doors, event level glass corridors, and NHL locker and lobby retail storefronts.

SC Railing Co., Minneapolis, supplied more than 12,400 linear feet of railing for the project. Using 1/2-inch tempered glass from Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Santa Monica, Calif., the glass railings in the entrance line the stairs, concourse overlooks and the bridges to outdoor terraces. On the suite and tower club levels, custom drink rails with stainless steel supports friction-fit to 1/2-inch tempered glass; and on the party deck level that overlooks the main floor, clear sightlines are guaranteed with the use of custom stainless steel cable rails at the front of the seating area. Additionally, a C-channel LED-lit glass base shoe railing system is used throughout the club level.

Crown Corr also installed the exterior curtainwall, which consists of 34,000 square feet of Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Guardian Glass' SunGuard 51/23 bent glass, fabricated by J.E. Berkowitz, Pedricktown, N.J. The cold-bent curtainwall glass is a unique application in which the insulating glass unit (IGU) was bent on-site in its final installed position.


Design Dichotomy

The dichotomy of the design elements on T-Mobile Arena creates an iconic exterior that honors the contrast between city life and nature. "The T-Mobile Arena façade and overall exterior turned out to be exactly what our vision was from the outset," adds Dan Quinn, general manager of T-Mobile Arena.


T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Las Vegas Arena Co., owned by AEG, Los Angeles, and MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas
Operator: MGM Resorts International
Owner's representive: Icon Venue Group, Greenwood Village, Colo.,
Architect: Populous, Kansas City, Mo.,
Construction manager/general contractor: Hunt-PENTA, a joint venture between Hunt Construction Group, Phoenix,, and PENTA Building Group, Las Vegas,
Structural engineer: Thornton Tomasetti, Kansas City,
Glaziers: Crown Corr Inc., Gary, Ind.,, and Giroux Glass Inc., Los Angeles,
Exterior curtainwall glass fabricator: J.E. Berkowitz, Pedricktown, N.J.,
Metal panel fabricator/installer: Crown Corr, Gary,
Metal shingle fabricator: A.R.J. Inc., Las Vegas,
Aluminum composite panels: DAMS Inc. Architectural Metals, Alsip, Ill.,
Curtainwall system: Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Santa Monica, Calif.,
Exterior curtainwall glass: Guardian Glass, Auburn Hills, Mich.,
Louvers: Construction Specialties Inc., Cranford, N.J.,
Metal panel coatings: Valspar Corp., Minneapolis,
Metal railings: SC Railing Co., Minneapolis,
Metal wall panels: CENTRIA, Moon Township, Pa.,