“The use of color, the relative lean of the buildings and the exquisitely detailed façade give these towers a powerful dynamism.” – Antony Wood, CTBUH 2010 Awards Juror, CTBUH
Las Vegas, USA
137 m (449 ft)
MGM Mirage Design Group
WSP Flack + Kurtz
Veer Towers takes on the challenge of building a sustainable, all glass tower in the desert environment of Las Vegas through its exquisitely detailed facades. The highly practical solution of protecting the facades with a series of horizontal louvers is executed in such a way that it adds vibrancy and interest to the buildings and, when combined with the use of colored glass and the countering leaning of each tower, creates a playful and dynamic addition to the city.
Part of the CityCenter complex in Las Vegas, Veer Towers attempt to blur the boundaries between the public and private realm while maintaining a delicate balance between becoming an integral part of the city and also giving the buildings and space a unique and iconic character. Active and vibrant at all times, Veer Towers builds on the values of the traditional city combined with emblematic spaces and structures to create a new urban typology. In approaching the design of the towers, the context was viewed not as a historical background to build upon but rather the framework to establish a new order and create an icon.
The underlying design and planning strategy was to regenerate Las Vegas through a new symbol at its core, just like the Guggenheim did in Bilbao; the Pompidou did in Paris, or the SONY Center in Berlin.
Figure 1. Entry at night
The manifesto for the project was to exhibit urban responsibility, pay attention to the building’s performance in terms of function and systems, use advanced and available technology, accept the aesthetic of construction and elevate it to a level of art, be sensible towards energy and ecology through the use of natural resources like daylight and fresh air combined with minimal technical equipment and maximization of user comfort.
The Veer Towers lean at 5 degrees in opposite directions. The residential uses float above the Retail and the 80′ tall lobbies which allow the buildings to appear both robust and delicate. There is no reflective glass, Veer will be the First truly transparent building in Las Vegas; given the context, that alone represents a great technological and even cultural challenge. Staggered panels of clear and fritted yellow glass animate the facades and give the complex a welcome shot of color while horizontal louvers give shade from the desert sun.
The load-bearing structure is a simple and repetitive system with a Z-shaped central core. The cores of both towers are strategically positioned on each building footprint in order to minimize gravity overturning effects, and they continue vertically up the entire building height. While all interior columns rise straight vertically, the tower columns on the north and south building elevations are inclined to follow the lean of the towers.
The south façade of the main building lobbies are expressed with slender 48” and 54” diameter concrete columns free standing for over 80’ in height and inclined to articulate the lean of the towers. Due to space constraints and the requirement to maximize usable lobby space by minimizing column dimensions, composite column construction was utilized.
The architectural design of the main lobby for the Veer Towers required a unique solution to the heating, cooling and ventilation due to the distinctive nature of these spaces. Each lobby is a multi-level space with a large expanse of glass on the south façade. The glass façade is almost 80ft in height and provides large quantities of natural light to the lobby and large solar heat gains and heat losses in winter. After studying the space loads and using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis it was determined that the best solution for conditioning the space efficiently was a radiant floor system using chilled and heating water with displacement ventilation providing the required outside air ventilation and supplemental cooling/heating. A radiant cooling surface allows the space temperature to be higher than traditional all-air design solutions reducing energy consumption while maintaining occupant comfort.
Figure 2. Sections. Each tower leans 5 degrees in opposite directions.
Heating and cooling of the apartments, meanwhile, is provided by vertical fan coil units. The use of natural air and light is maximized throughout the building. Horizontal sun screen blades provide shading on the east, south and west facades and reduce the energy consumption while minimizing the technical equipment requirements and maximizing occupant comfort.
The façade of Veer is perhaps the most visible sustainable element. The extensive use of High performance Low-E coating glazing maximizes the introduction of day lighting and views to the outside which, in conjunction with the use of exterior shades and a 57% ceramic frit in 50% of the building’s envelope, provide all the shading to control and reduce the solar loads. Although the fixed shading devices and high performance glass control the solar heat gain, they were not sufficient on their own to meet the project goal to exceed ASHRAE 90.1-1999 by 20%.
Figure 3. Facade detail
Other energy efficient strategies, such as high efficiency central plant and cogeneration systems combined with high performance envelope were implemented within the Veer Towers and the wider City Center campus to achieve a building that exceeds ASHRAE 90.1-1999 by 37.6%.
The use of construction waste management techniques, materials locally or regionally produced and manufactured, recycled materials and wood certified products, result in a significant reduction in environmental impact. Storm water filtration systems controlled flow drainage and the use of storm water for irrigation and grey water systems contribute to water conservation, save utility charges and reduce impact on natural resources. In 2009, as a key component to City Center, Veer received LEED Gold certification by the USGBC.
Responsible uses of appropriate technologies provided an expressive means to realize this project in a sustainable way. The design solution strives for simplicity and dynamism, reinforcing the iconic character of the whole complex. City Center is in fact generating “tissue” to develop true city fabric. Veer Towers is urbanistically significant, formally simple and elegant, technologically advanced and environmentally responsible.
Figure 4. Tower base