A NEW WONDER OF THE WORLD IN LAS VEGAS.
Las Vegas in the US state of Nevada has always been a place of superlatives. There is nothing here that does not exist, one record chases the next – of the 10 largest hotels in the world, 5 are located in Las Vegas. However, the desert city has outdone itself and presented a worldwide unique architectural sensation that will change the city’s skyline forever.
THE LARGEST SPHERICAL STRUCTURE IN THE WORLD – THE SPHERE.
Inside, ‘The Sphere’ is a spectacular event location that offers space for 17,600 seated visitors and another 20,000 standing visitors. Over 165,000 speakers, including those integrated into the floor, ensure that the audience receives the best possible sound at every seat, regardless of the booked seating category or event. 4D elements such as sudden temperature changes, smells or air movements have also been integrated, taking the audiovisual experience to a whole new level. But that was not all.
THE PRESS REPORTS …
“The Sphere” in Las Vegas: Koblenzer Firma baute Hülle der Kugel
Koblenzer Unternehmen baut größte Kugel der Welt in Las Vegas
“MSG Sphere”: Wer hinter der weltgrößten Kugel steckt
Die größte Kugel der Welt ist eine Deutsche
Koblenzer Firma glänzt in Las Vegas
‘THE EXOSPHERE’ – THE OUTER E NVELOPE IS THE MAIN STAR.
The main attraction is the nearly 54,000m2 envelope of the unique building structure.
This is where KALZIP enters the game.
Specialised in façade and roof structures made of aluminium for over 55 years, the Koblenz-based company, a world leader in this field, was commissioned to construct and install the ‘Exosphere’. A challenge even for specialists, because the shell is also unique in the world. Approximately 1.2 million LED pucks are mounted on it, each puck consists of 48 individual LED diodes and each of these programmable diodes can display 256 million colours. These provide visitors with a breathtaking, 18K – sharp, almost 360° visual experience and make the ‘Exosphere’ the largest screen in the world.
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THE CONSTRUCTION LOGISTICS ARE ALSO A MASTERPIECE.
The envelope consists of approx. 170 tonnes of profiled aluminium panels were prepared for use in the Koblenz factory.
On site in Las Vegas, the approximately 4500 profiled sheets were then further manufactured and prepared for installation. No easy task, because each of the aluminium profiles is approx. 8m2 in size and weighs 35 kg. First, the aluminium panels were brought to the right length by the skilled craftsmen, then the holes for brackets and rivets were pre-drilled, and the individual recesses for sound holes and ventilation grilles were added so that the aluminium profiles fit inside and next to each other on the round surface with millimetre precision. In the last step, the profiles were cleaned and loaded onto specially made transport trolleys, each transport trolley holds 14 profile panels.
EVEN THE TRANSPORT TROLLEYS FOR THE ALUMINIUM PROFILES WERE MOVED TO LOFTY HEIGHTS.
The prepared sheets were then transported to the construction site and lifted vertically tilted onto the building envelope with the help of special cranes, together with the transport trolleys attached to ropes, and installed.
This was a mammoth task, which was partly completed in two shifts by more than 160 installers. This meant that 150m2 of aluminium profile surface could be installed every day – a total of 35,000m2, from the beginning of June 2020 to January 2021. Another record.
A total of 31,351m2 of fixed and 2,647m2 of pre-perforated aluminium profiles were used in this futuristic mega-project. In addition, 4,900 conically shaped and 1,075 conically shaped and perforated profiled panels were used – durable for eternity and all of them mottled grey to prevent reflections from the LEDs.
INTERVIEW WITH SALES DIRECTOR DAN VINET
To see the answers to the questions below, please expand.
How is the dome of the MSG Sphere constructed?
The basic construction of the dome is structural steel framing, insulated metal panels running horizontally, horizontal tube girts, the Kalzip standing seam panels running vertically, and then the steel exoskeleton that supports the LED net on the outside.
What services did Kalzip provide? How did the cooperation with the German teamwork?
Kalzip provided the clips and standing seam panels for the outer wall surface. Our services included the following: analyzing the surface geometry of the Sphere and advising on the panel shapes and quantity to fit this surface, procurement of the material, delivery of the material to Las Vegas, delivery of roll forming equipment to Las Vegas, roll forming of the panels onsite by a Kalzip machine operator from Germany.
How did the craftsmen proceed?
Kalzip started producing panels onsite in November 2020. The production was run in a few different phases and ultimately completed in January 2021. The production consisted of approximately 6,000 tapered panels, with some reaching a length of 18.6m. The tapered panels have very specific geometry requirements, the Kalzip operator was responsible for the precise production and quality checks of these panels.
What were the particular challenges for this building (viewpoint Kalzip)?
There were many challenges because this is a complex and high profile project, and adding on top of that was a global COVID-19 pandemic. Initially we worked with the architects and consultants to confirm the layout and geometry was achievable with Kalzip standing seam panels. This included computer 3D modeling of the Sphere and how Kalzip would fit on this surface. (see attached file “Kalzip precheck 2019-08-26”). Once the order was secured, we then had to face the situation of material procurement and delivery while there was an ongoing pandemic. Nine shipping containers were sent in June 2020 from the Kalzip factory in Koblenz to Las Vegas. These containers held over 170,000 kgs of aluminum coils to be used for the production of the Kalzip panels. This was a significant accomplishment as many global supply chains were in distress (shortages, delays, shutdowns, etc) due to the impacts of COVID-19. Kalzip was able to maintain our agreed schedules with the customer for the material deliveries. The next big step was the onsite roll forming of the tapered panels. Due to the shape of the Sphere , the accuracy of the tapered panel production was critical. If the production was not accurate, then the panels would not fit when installed on this massive wall surface. We were able to roll form with precise accuracy and minimal scrap accumulation. See images “2495” , “2881” of the Kalzip portable taper machine and operator, Rafael Fernandez. Image “3174” shows the Kalzip roll forming machine (painted red) and all the finished panels which appear as light blue/green. This is the backside wash coat finish of the panels as when stacked, the backside is visible.
How long in advance did Kalzip plan the project?
I was first involved with the project in late 2017 and began discussing concepts with the New York City office of Walter P Moore , who was acting as a building envelope and engineering consultant for the owner. From there, work continued with Populus, who is the architect for the Sphere. Then followed the bidding process and we ultimately were awarded the order in early 2020.
How did the coordination with all parties involved work?
We had a number of different levels of coordination on this project. Locally, the Kalzip office in North America handled the correspondence, communication, and negations with the local clients such as: building consultants, architects, general contractors, and sub-contractors. Internally, we utilized project management expertise led by Gill Webster , from the Kalzip office in the UK. Gill liaised with North America and Kalzip Germany for ordering, production, shipping, and invoicing. Kalzip Germany worked with vendors and supply chain partners and utilized our world class manufacturing expertise to fulfill the order. That meant that this project was supported by multiple people, in multiple countries, who all came together for a common goal.
WHAT DOESN’T FIT IS SIMULATED UNTIL IT DOES.
The structural requirements for buildings have not only grown in recent years, the customers’ requirements have also changed. In the past, once the planning and construction phase was completed, the building was delivered as initially discussed.
Nowadays, clients and builders demand a continuous flow of data so that economically relevant key decisions can also be made and optimised during the construction phase – so engineers have become both data users and data suppliers. Especially structural calculations, such as required modifications in the frame construction, scale calculations and what influence the steel weight has on the building use, vary greatly on each project. In the planning, design and construction of the Sphere, parametric, algorithm-based virtual design was used from the beginning of the project. Depending on the problem to be calculated, this efficient tool can produce millions of simulations for engineers in a matter of hours and throws up presentation-ready graphics of the optimised building structure.
At The Sphere, these simulations were mainly used to optimise and adjust the frame structure afterwards, because the size of the structure was fixed from the beginning.
ALWAYS THE FOCUS OF WORLDWIDE ATTENTION.
In September 2023, the construction marvel will open its doors to the public with a concert by the Irish band U2. The exposed location between the Strip, the city’s main entertainment street, and the direct proximity to the Venetian Resort’s Convention and EXPO Centre ensures that the world’s largest screen will also attract a lot of attention between major events.
For example, brand campaigns, artistic performances and everyday events such as sunrises and sunsets will be shown on it. Already, more ‘Spheres’ are planned in major cities around the world, with London having just cleared the way for the construction of another engineering marvel on British soil. The next time ‘The Sphere’ and its spectacular shell from Koblenz will be in the global spotlight will be in November 2023, when Las Vegas hosts the world’s most famous circus for the first time – Formula 1.