Architectural Marvel: MSG Sphere Destined for Las Vegas
(Photo renderings of the MSG Sphere were released by Madison Square Garden)
Announcement of the MSG Sphere
Coming to the Las Vegas skyline in 2023 is the MSG Sphere. The joint-venture project between Madison Square Garden (MSG), Las Vegas Sands Corporation, The Venetian Las Vegas, and Tao Group Hospitality, was announced to the public in February of 2018. When completed, it will be the world’s largest spherical building, standing 112 meters tall and 157 meters wide. The MSG Sphere will act as an entertainment venue and will contain the world’s largest and highest resolution LED screen. The screen will cover an area larger than three football fields (15,000 square-meters), and will have a resolution of 19,000 by 13,500 pixels, which is a hundred times better than today’s high-definition televisions. The venue will be equipped with 17,500 seats, but will have a standing capacity of up to 20,000 people. The building will consist of nine different levels, with one level specifically being used to house revolutionary audio equipment capable of radiating bass through the floors. This will allow the MSG Sphere to provide full 4D effects to every person in attendance. Once the exterior of the dome is completed, the sphere will then be covered in 54,000 square-meters of programmable LED lighting.
In total, the MSG Sphere entertainment complex will have over 81,300 square-meters (875,000 square-feet) of interior space. Early estimates on the cost of the project were around $1.2 billion US dollars, however that number has been increasing and is now projected to be approximately $1.85 billion US dollars.
Construction of the MSG Sphere
AECOM, an American international engineering firm, and Populous, a global architecture firm, were the firms contracted to design and construct the dome. Work first began in March of 2019 and required the excavation of roughly 84,000 cubic-meters of material. Over the course of the construction, more than 1,000 construction workers have been employed to meet the labor demands.
Building the spherical structure was anything but simple. The dome’s roof alone consists of six million pounds of steel. In order to construct the foundation, four concrete cores were built, which were then tied together with over 9,500 tons of steel. This creates a series of tensioned ring beams that will help hold the weight of the 11,000 ton roof. When it came to constructing the roof of the dome, an 86-meter temporary shoring tower was built in the center of the sphere. After the shoring tower was assembled, the next step was placing the 154 ton compression ring atop the tower, as well as the thirty-two steel trusses that connect to it. Due to the immense size and weight of the compression ring and trusses, the world’s fourth largest crawler crane had to be imported from Belgium in order to hoist them into place. When the crane arrived on site it took eighteen days to assemble and stood 176 meters tall when fully constructed.
After the roof’s steel frame was in place, over 6,000 cubic yards of concrete were pumped onto the roof, forming a layer of concrete ten inches thick, weighing approximately 10,000 tons. In October of 2021, the roof of the MSG Sphere was finally finished. Work on the interior of the dome began in August of 2021, and is expected to continue until late 2022 or early 2023.
(Construction photos were captured by Chase Stevens from the Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The MSG Sphere is set to be a global spectacle after its completed. The entertainment complex will be located off of the Las Vegas Strip, and is near resorts such as the Wynn, The Venetian, and The Palazzo. MSG Sphere is expected to create over 4,400 jobs, and will host events such as award shows, concerts, boxing/mixed-martial arts matches, 4D experiences, and more.
The venue was initially scheduled to open in 2021, however, the Covid-19 Pandemic has caused several setbacks for the construction teams. It’s possible that these delays could push the grand opening for MSG Sphere back from late 2023 to early 2024. Along with being an architectural marvel, the MSG Sphere will utilize today’s most advanced technology to provide guests with an experience unknown to mankind up until this point. There has also been talks about building an identical MSG Sphere in East London.