Nine interesting facts about the Las Vegas Sphere (and what they tell us about the architecture of tomorrow)
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Nine interesting facts about the Las Vegas Sphere (and what they tell us about the architecture of tomorrow)

My list

Autor | Lucía Burbano

It had to be in Las Vegas, an architecturally heterodox and strident city, clearly aimed at the entertainment sector, where a pioneering project like Sphere would be launched. The largest LED screen with the highest resolution in the world is the new attraction of the Mecca of the casinos, which is determined to be the entertainment capital of the world.

Architecturally speaking, it is not the first sphere to be built. There are examples such as La Biosphère in Montreal, which is home to the Environment Museum, and which was built in 1967, the year in which the Universal Exhibition was held in this Canadian city, but neither of these has the measurements of the Sphere: which could comfortably house the Statue of Liberty or four football fields.

With an investment of USD 2.3 billion by Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSG), this sphere, measuring 112 meters high and 157 meters wide, has beaten records and produced interesting facts since its inauguration in September 2023. Let’s see some of them:

1.  An exterior and interior show

The Vegas Sphere is not just a gigantic sculpture that displays images on its screen with 1.2 million LED lights, it is a space where the most spectacular things take place inside. With a capacity for 18,600 spectators, to date it has held completely immersive shows by the band U2 and the Postcard from Earth immersive film directed by Darren Aronofsky.

2.  As technical as it gets

The Vegas Sphere’s millions of LED panels have the capacity to display images at a resolution of 64K, both inside and outside. The interior projections have been designed with thorough mathematical calculations capable of making you “forget” that you are in a dome, or generating special effects that multiply its depth. A purely immersive show.

The 164,000 speakers installed in the Las Vegas Sphere, are in charge of rounding off the experience, accompanied by other technologies like the haptic vibrations in the seats or temperature control to generate feelings that go beyond the visual aspect.

3. Visible from space

Sphere At Las Vegas

According to its owners, when the 157-meter-wide sphere is lit up, both the Sphere and its millions of LED discs are visible from space. Another issue is how it affects light pollution in Las Vegas, a city highly affected by the light effects of its casinos. Unsurprisingly, it is also known, among other names, as the neon city (although it went on to LED years ago).

The construction of the Sphere drew criticism from environmentalists and residents regarding its impact on the health of residents and local wildlife, since excessive nocturnal light confuses creatures such as bats or disorients certain birds that are guided by the stars during migration.

4. Architecture as a show

The Sphere is confirmation that we are living in the screen era and of an entertainment model that has made architecture a means and a purpose. Even during the design and construction process, parts of the Sphere were built in virtual reality first in order to verify their resistance and functionality even before they actually existed.

5. It will be powered by renewable energies

The Sphere needs around 28 megawatts to function at its peak energy usage, equivalent to supplying power to 21,000 homes.

Sphere Entertainment, the company responsible for the Las Vegas Sphere, announced that around 70% of the facility’s energy will be obtained from solar power. The primary electric utility in Nevada, NV Energy, will provide most of this energy from the Sierra Solar Project in California, which must be fully operational by 2027.

6. A mathematical design

According to its developers, to create it, they deployed some centuries old mathematical formulas and some very 22nd century engineering and technology. During its construction, the laws of Geodesic Math were put in action, where hundreds of interlocking triangles create the 360° shape and structure for this world-first immersive venue.

7. A vast construction

Sphere At Las Vegas

The architecture studio behind the Sphere is the Populous architectural design firm, specializing in the design of sports facilities including Wembley Stadium.

For its construction, Sphere required 3,000 tons of steel, 4,600 m3 of concrete and a 730-ton steel interior frame to support the LED screens and the audio system.

8. A major investment with a return

Despite investing a whopping USD 2.3 billion, MSG rents Sphere for USD 450,000 per day. PlayStation, FedEx or Adidas are some of its advertisers.

9. More spheres in other locations around the world

This is the first, but possibly not the last. It seems that there will be more replicas of the Las Vegas Sphere. One was announced in Stratford, London, although at the moment it does not seem to be going ahead due to uncertainties regarding the impact of its artificial light. Abu Dabi and the South Korean city of Hanam have already shown an interest in housing the next Sphere.

Photographs |Cristian Lourenço/iStock, Cristian Lourenço/iStock, atosan/iStock


 

Tomorrow.Building World Congress (7-9 November 2024, Barcelona) is the new global event empowering the green and digital transition of buildings and urban infrastructures. Celebrated in parallel with the Smart City Expo, it’s a sector-focused summit gathering the most forward-thinking brands and experts disrupting urban construction. Discover more ⁠here.

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