A Giant Leap

A Giant Leap

CityCenter Las Vegas Crosses A Threshold For Networked AV

PMK’s portion of the AV design for CityCenter in Las Vegas includes 60 venues, thousands of ceiling speakers, three complete concert line array systems, more than 20 equipment rooms, thousands of fiber optic runs, and hundreds of input-output panels.

LAS VEGAS, NV—A joint venture of MGM Mirage and Dubai World, Las Vegas’ CityCenter is a 76-acre, mixed-use complex that stands as the largest privately financed real estate development in the U.S. In addition to its 61-story Aria Resort and Casino, CityCenter also encompasses three hotel and residential towers plus the Crystals retail and entertainment district. These LEED-certified “green” structures are surrounded by spacious plazas featuring outdoor art, pedestrian walkways, and greenery.

CityCenter raises the bar for the size and sophistication of its highly networked AV systems. Consultants, contractors, and suppliers agree that they’ve never before worked on any project of this scale.

“This is rumored to be the single largest consolidated AV system design in history,” related Darren Smith, who has lived with CityCenter for three years, first as senior designer for the PMK Consultants, and currently in a parallel role with TechnologyWest Group, one of three AV contractors for the project. “We estimated the complete cost at over $100 million for just the PMK-designed components alone. That included 60 venues, thousands of ceiling speakers, three complete concert line array systems, more than 20 equipment rooms, thousands of fiber optic runs, hundreds of input-output panels, and the list goes on.”

Although conceived and financed as a single project, CityCenter was broken into three blocks (A, B, and C) for the design and construction phases. At PMK, Smith headed the design team assigned to block A (Aria Resort & Casino with attached Convention Center) and most of Block B (Vdara Hotel and Spa). From the outset of the project, Smith and PMK principal consultant Daniel Saenz called on the expertise of applications engineers at the Harman Professional for assistance in applying the company’s networked technology to meet daunting AV requirements.

“Using HiQNet as the primary network infrastructure was an easy choice,” affirmed Smith. “Once we had confirmed our audio networking using BSS London [see sidebar], it was an easy transition to HiQNet. We required complete monitoring and control of everything from London to PIP modules in the Crown amplifiers to self-powered VerTec line arrays, even the Soundcraft/Studer mixing consoles. We needed to efficiently grab a specific venue and easily tweak and monitor every aspect of audio on the fly. In a facility this size, this capability for troubleshooting with System Architect was absolutely top priority.”

According to Paul Chavez, director of systems applications for the Harman Professional, CityCenter’s fast-track design window worked to PMK’s advantage in one respect. “If this project had happened just 18 months earlier, I’m not sure we would have been able to supply such comprehensive and fully integrated systems. That applies to both the range of JBL loudspeakers and the scope of integration on the network side. It’s been developing over the years, but with this project we crossed a new technology threshold.”

Aria’s race and sports book venue features more than 100 displays and two Barco NX4 LED video walls. The audio utilizes over 100 JBL Control 300 Series loudspeakers and subwoofers, all powered by Crown CTS amplifiers and driven by BSS London.

For his part, Smith appreciated having access to loudspeakers that fit the need, and that are also—critical on the fast track—preapproved. “UL listing is key in Vegas, and JBL had their ducks in a row with every product. Also, the JBL high-ceiling speakers were valuable in solving high-frequency issues at 40-plus feet above the finished floor.”

Though all facets of the design had challenges and rewards, Smith singles out as his “pride and joy” the Aria’s race and sports book venue. “We have over 100 displays, plus two Barco NX4 LED video walls as the center feature. Miranda broadcast gear drives the imaging, including a 216x324 Nvision 8280 router. The audio utilizes over 100 Control 300 Series loudspeakers and subwoofers, all powered by Crown CTS amplifiers and driven by BSS London.”

Though the scope of CityCenter far surpassed other projects undertaken by PMK Consultants, they shouldered only part of the task. Other systems designs, primarily in Block C, were entrusted to the consulting firm of Shem Milsom & Wilke, with Tim Lindstrom as lead designer. Integration and installation were contracted to the respective Las Vegas offices of Ford AV, AVI-SPL, and TechnologyWest Group.

Though CityCenter proved a daunting and often exhausting task, Smith concluded, “It was an amazing experience from start to finish. The project team was incredible, and they all deserve accolades.”

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.