Calling All Conventioneers! Bombard Electric Electrifies Vegas Convention Center Addition

Bombard Electric Las Vegas Convention Center Image Credit: TVSDesign
Image Credit: TVSDesign

Big conventions are getting bigger, and demand is building in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) is undergoing an expansion and renovation that will increase its size by more than a million square feet and boost its ability to host some of the largest conventions in Southern Nevada. Bombard Electric is providing electrical installation for the project’s phase two.

The phase two expansion is priced at $938 million for a total of 1.4 million square feet of new space, added to the existing center where companies and organizations hold some of the country’s prominent meetings and events. For Bombard, the project includes lighting and medium-voltage electrical services.

Las Vegas has seen significant growth in the volume of business travelers and conventions in recent years, and it is striving to serve that audience. The LVCC hosts about 22% of those who come to the area for conferences. In fact, the Trade Show News Network has named the convention center the top trade show destination in North America for 24 consecutive years. The LVCC’s attendees generated $2.1 billion for the local economy. The city itself reportedly hosts about 22,000 meetings, conventions and trade shows each year. These events also provide 65,000 local jobs.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) manages the convention center and aims to increase the center’s size and capacity as well as renovate its facilities over several years. The LVCVA has scheduled the renovation project to be completed in two phases—first building the expanded space and then upgrading the existing facility. The district said this will ensure economic and business growth in the Las Vegas area as more guests and clients are drawn to the new space.

Bombard Electric Las Vegas Convention Center Image Credit: TVSDesign
Atrium of LVCC expansion. Image Credit TVSdesign

The phase two expansion is underway across Convention Center Drive from the existing facility—to be connected by a sky walkway—and includes 140,000 square feet of meeting areas, a main entrance and grand lobby. It will also come with related prefunction space and service and support areas for those working at the convention center. The new facility will have a 600,000-square-foot exhibit hall.

With a projected completion date of 2023, phase three will involve the complete renovation of the existing 3.2 million-square-foot facility.

For phase two, Turner Construction and Martin-Harris, the general contractor joint venture, is leading the design-assist project. The expansion will be completed in time for one of the conference center’s largest events—the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2021.

Bombard Electric, a subsidiary of MDU Construction Services Group, has been providing full-service electrical installation and services in the Las Vegas Valley since 1982.

Typically, Bombard provides design-build and design-assist preconstruction services as well as conceptual estimating and budgeting, and electrical installation from the beginning of a construction project through startup, commissioning and warranty.

Its solar division, Bombard Renewable Energy, has connected more than 300 megawatts of solar energy in Nevada. The company also installs wind energy and concentrated photovoltaics.

For the convention center, Bombard was brought on board to provide full electrical service, power to low-voltage systems, and indoor and outdoor lighting. Its work will include the related medium-voltage substations as well. Lighting consists entirely of LEDs, and Bombard installed all fixtures as well as switches and bus ducts.

Additionally, said Chris Mitchell, Bombard’s project manager, “We’re putting in owner-furnished medium-voltage gear,” as well as all the stepdown transformers and distribution boards.

Bombard is also providing custom fabricated floor boxes throughout the new space, the 20-ampere (A) twist-lock receptacles, and provisions for low-voltage.

The company’s electricians moved on-site at the LVCC project in January 2019. Work began with installation of the medium-voltage underground conduits, followed by the meeting room slab rough-in, Mitchell said.

A bird's-eye view rendering of Las Vegas Convention Center expansion and renovation. Image Credit: TVSDesign
A bird's-eye view rendering of Las Vegas Convention Center expansion and renovation. Image Credit: TVSDesign

Addressable lighting

One of the owner’s requirements is that all lighting fixtures be individually addressable. That means, if an exhibitor or organizer wants to dim or brighten a single fixture (over their booth for instance), they can do so remotely.

Bombard is installing the addressable lighting control system, programmed by 4-Wall Entertainment—a Bombard supplier. In the exhibit hall, lights are being hung as pendant fixtures from the 40-foot open ceiling. That feature is one that may make the convention center unique.

Bombard is also installing 297 floor boxes in the exhibition hall consisting of 100A pin and sleeve and a 20A twist-lock receptacle. Some 150 boxes will also be installed in meeting rooms.

Meeting budget and timeline

During the design-assist process, Bombard has worked with the team to keep the budget in line, while still constructing world-class features such as lighting management.

While many projects could have accommodated zone-dimmable lighting, rather than individual programming to keep costs down, Mitchell said that option wasn’t considered in this case. If customers are paying top dollar to use the exhibit hall or meeting rooms, they need the best features possible, the owner decided.

All phases of the project should be completed by 2023. Image Credit: Earthcam_NETW
All phases of the project should be completed by 2023. Image Credit: Earthcam_NETW

Other compromises were easier, such as reducing the number of “over design” panels and conduits to the existing hall for the low-voltage connection. The team also settled on a reduced number of fire pumps to lower the emergency generator load and to revise the lightning protection design to be more affordable.

All other discussions revolved around lighting. Bombard will also provide the building’s exterior lighting. The team and owner are still considering a plan for LED architectural lights to wash the building walls with color schemes to match the theme or organization using the center.

Bombard has subcontracted to Pyrocom Systems to install and program the Notifier fire alarm system. They employed Sturgeon Electric as a subcontractor to assist with building raceways to keep the project on deadline. Conti Electric Inc. is installing the low-voltage system.

Staging for a project of this size requires tight time management.

“We have a good laydown area,” Mitchell said, adding that the company also schedules its supply vendors to store materials and equipment at their own site until shortly before they are needed. While Bombard has a prefabrication facility, there will be limited prefab work done for this project, he added.

The electrical crew holds its own weekly safety meetings as well as a meeting for all contractors and subs once a month. Bombard has dedicated a safety manager for the first 20 workers on-site, and an additional officer is added when there are 70 workers in place, and another for 120 electrical workers.

When finished, Bombard will have installed 6.7 million feet of No. 12–No. 600 MCM cable and 50,000 feet of high-voltage cable, two 1,750-kilowatt diesel generators (provided by the district) and 8,760 LED fixtures, with 35,000 feet of LED linear lighting. The company also is installing 63 exterior pole lights.

Lighting fixtures in the new exhibit hall will be individually addressable. Image Credit: TVSDesign
Lighting fixtures in the new exhibit hall will be individually addressable. Image Credit: TVSDesign

The convention center expansion will also include 56 electrical switches and 6,500 feet of 800A bus duct with 148 bus plugs. There will also be approximately 40 intermediate distribution frame closets for low-voltage.

At peak, the company expects to have about 120 electricians at the LVCC. That’s a challenge in any area. However, Las Vegas is experiencing a construction boom, and the volume of manpower is an issue. In fact, Bombard has several significant projects underway that increases the labor demand, including the Wynn Las Vegas convention center and Caesars conference space.

“Las Vegas is the hub for conventions,” Mitchell said.

The region has been experiencing a flow of traveling electricians as well as the permanently located electricians to meet the growing demand. Meanwhile, meeting schedules that are ever-tighter always pose a challenge, Mitchell said, but work has been on time and well planned.

The complete renovation of the existing 3.2-million-square-foot facility has a projected completion date of 2023. The phased approach should ensure the center remains full and undisrupted.

“The overall electrical scope,” Mitchell said, including installation of substations, custom floor boxes and provisions for tele/data and audio/video, not to mention the LED lighting fixtures that are individually addressable, truly showcases Bombard’s talented electricians and the management team that supports them.

That, along with the tight schedule for completion makes it the kind of project Bombard excels at, he said.

“Vegas’ construction market is unlike any other city and is a market in which Bombard thrives,” he said.

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