While it’s been a tough year for Las Vegas, the desert town is blooming new life in 2021. With a number of exciting venues opening this year, it’s no wonder Vegas is in a celebratory mood. And adding to the list of unique venues and landmarks in the city, Madison Square Garden’s Sphere at The Venetian is now coming to life – the domed roof taking shape as a marvel of modern engineering. Although the Sphere likely won’t be ready for guests until 2023, it is a testament to human tenacity that despite the uncertainty of the last year, the massive dome is still climbing skyward.
Domed Roof Rises to the Heavens in Desert Town
The domed roof of the Sphere is drawing attention from all over the world. A media statement from the MSG group explains joyfully, “Construction is now well underway on MSG Sphere at The Venetian’s massive concrete and steel domed roof!
Late last week crews successfully set the first piece of the dome’s steel frame – a ‘pie piece’ shaped roof truss that weighs more than 100 tons and is nearly 200 feet long. The state-of-the-art entertainment venue’s dome will be made up of 32 of these ‘pie pieces,’ and once complete, will weigh more than 13,000 tons with a surface area around 220,000 square feet – that’s nearly five football fields.
Too large to be transported, these “pie pieces” are being welded and bolted together right on the Sands Avenue construction site. They are then set into place almost 300 feet in the air – positioned between a nearly 200-ton compression ring (lifted last month) and a tension ring that runs the full perimeter of the venue’s top level.
Approximately 3,000 tons of steel will be used to build the roof frame – a process that is expected to be completed this summer.”
And while Sphere won’t welcome people until 2023, it’s already generating buzz because of its blend of futuristic tech and 21st century know-how engineering. Nick Tomasino, VP of Construction for MSG Entertainment, adds, “MSG Sphere’s domed roof will create a column-free, interior bowl, which will house the 160,000-square foot display plane – a key component in the venue’s immersive experiences. This defining feature is the result of expert design, engineering and construction planning, and we look forward to seeing the roof continue to take shape over the coming months.”
Sphere Offers a Peerless and Unique Venue for Performers and Guests Alike
MSG’s Sphere promises to be another unique landmark in a city brimming with them. From the Egypt-inspired pyramid Luxor hotel, to the canals-of-Venice-inspired Venetian, Vegas venues offer visitors unique experiences with the bonus of being just an arm’s reach from the next modern wonder.
MSG’s Sphere at The Venetian will join that illustrious list as the roof reaches towards the skies. Even building the Sphere has required some creative thinking. One of the world’s four largest cranes was needed to hoist the compression ring 300 feet into the air to start the process of creating the dome feature. Dome engineering is tricky, but hearkens back to one of the world’s oldest and strongest engineering wonders – the arch. Although the Sphere will be secured by bolts and endless joists, spheres and arches both rely on the precision of the piece next to them to hold shape. Each shape presses outwards against it’s neighbors, and the combined result is a surprisingly strong and durable shape that can support a lot of weight.
On the construction, Tomasino remarks per ENR, “‘Even the scale of the equipment needed for construction is unique,’ says Nick Tomasino, vice president of construction for the Madison Square Garden Co., in a statement. ‘This specialty crane allows us to execute the complexities that come with building the largest spherical structure in the world, safely performing lifts that require an incredible amount of expertise and precision.’”
Vegas’s 2021 Openings Promise a Fruitful Year
While the Sphere won’t open until 2023, its rise is an appropriate addition to the 2021 openings. This year, Vegas welcomes the eagerly anticipated Resorts World, with its impressive list of partners and shoppes. Resorts World is bringing big names to Vegas like Wally’s from Los Angeles, and Gatsby’s.
With Vegas slowly coming to life again after the dark and difficult final half of 2020, it’s time to enjoy what Vegas does best – the human experience in all its beauty and variety.