The Curse of Norman Foster’s Harmon Hotel: Still Unopened Building May Now Face Demolition

In early-2009 when the whole business of architecture seemed to be coming undone under the weight of the financial crisis, with developments getting the axe across the board and layoffs and cutbacks seeming to happen every week, one project in particular suffered an above-average difficult moment: Norman Foster‘s Harmon Hotel. Planned as a portion of Las Vegas’ new money-gobbling CityCenter, builders discovered a mistake involving incorrectly installed rebar across 15 whole floors, which ultimately necessitated the already penny-pinched tower be cut from 49 stories down to 28. A year and a half later and the hotel still isn’t open and now it’s rumored that its owners, MGM, plan to have the building demolished sometime in 2012, should it be able to win its case against Perini Building, who the company claims is responsible for all of the construction problems. And proving that perhaps the building was never meant to be, Perini was already in the middle of a suit against MGM for failing to pay hundreds of millions in overdue bills. Here’s a bit of that back and forth from Architectural Record‘s great look at a very large mess:

“Talk of demolition is nothing more than a pure publicity stunt,” says Perini CEO Craig W. Shaw. “We stand ready and willing to fix it, but MGM stopped us from doing so. It’s an insurable claim, but the building is worth more to them dead than alive.”

Harmon has “substantial defective construction” resulting in “hundreds of millions of dollars in estimated damages,” MGM’s lawsuit claims. “There are no plans to open Harmon in any form whatsoever,” says MGM spokesman Alan M. Feldman. He claims the hotel “cannot be used for the purpose originally intended” due to extensive non-conforming work.