The High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel reaching 550 feet with 28 glass-enclosed gondolas and is the centerpiece of The LINQ, a shopping and entertainment district in Las Vegas.
The Vegas High Roller observation wheel in Las Vegas has earned national recognition in the 2015 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2).
The High Roller’s project team members include:
- Owner: Caesars Entertainment Corp.
- Architects: The Hettema Group and KLAI JUBA Architects
- Structural Engineer: Arup
- General Contractor: W.A. Richardson Builders
- Steel Fabricator and Erector (base): SME Steel (AISC Member/Advanced Certified)
- Steel Contractor: American Bridge Company (AISC Member/Advanced Certified)
The High Roller is a National award winner in the category of projects Greater than $75 Million, making it one of only four projects around the country to receive the National honor. Each year, the IDEAS2 awards honor National and Merit award winners in three categories, based on constructed value: projects less than $15 million; projects $15 million to $75 million; and projects greater than $75 million. Each project is judged on its use of structural steel from both an architectural and structural engineering perspective, with an emphasis on: creative solutions to project’s program requirements; applications of innovative design approaches in areas such as connections, gravity systems, lateral load resisting systems, fire protection and blast; aesthetic and visual impact of the project; innovative use of architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS); technical or architectural advances in the use of the steel; and the use of innovative design and construction methods.
“The combined ingenuity, architecture and engineering involved in the Vegas High Roller surpass any Ferris Wheel to date,” commented IDEAS2 awards judge, Ashley Carey, a former field engineer with Skanska Koch (she recently joined Stonebridge Steel Erection).
At 550 ft tall and a cost of $300 million, the High Roller, which opened in March 2014 on the Las Vegas Strip, is the largest observation wheel ever built. Caesars Entertainment—the owner—wanted its observation wheel to not only be the largest in the world, but also to offer guests the best experience.
“Vegas demands audacity and ‘over-the-top,’” said Greg Miller, senior vice president of development for Caesars Entertainment. “The High Roller is so much more elegant and beautiful than any other wheel. The creative intent was to have it appear to be lightweight, without a lot of structure.”
This desire guided a structural scheme with minimal visual impact, affording passengers a “floating sensation” and sense of space, which was achieved with a single rim element and single cabin support bearing. Previous observation wheels, including the London Eye and Singapore Flyer, had wider truss rims and dual cabin bearings, restricting views from the cabin and making passengers more conscious of the structure supporting them.
The rim tube is rolled from structural steel plate; the hub and spindle have forged steel ends welded to structural steel midsections; the bearings are made from high-performance steel subjected to high-contact stresses; and the anchor bolts to the foundations provide ductility in the event of a Maximum Credible Earthquake. The entire structure is exposed; all of the connections can be seen up close, and the bolts and welds are clearly visible from within the cabins. At night, thousands of LEDs wash the steelwork (painted white) with programmable changing colors, creating a multitude of dynamic patterns.