Project Scope and Description
Half a century ago, University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) — then a little known school in the desert —established a small program known as the College of Hotel Administration. In the decades that followed, this niche department would grow not only to become the university’s flagship program, but one of the top-ranked hospitality colleges in the world. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in 2018, the department received a major facility upgrade, and a new name to match. Now known as the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, the program resides in a brand new, state-of-the-art academic building set at the center of the school’s main campus.
Designed by Carpenter Sellers Del Gatto Architects, the new LEED Silver Certified building consciously evokes the look and feel of an upscale hotel lobby – a fitting learning environment for students pursuing careers in the hospitality industry. General Contractor McCarthy Building Group and Giroux Glass played a major role in turning plans for the campus’ beautiful new addition into a reality.
The 93,500 square feet building touts many wonderful features, including
- learning, meeting and office spaces
- a state-of-the-art commercial classroom/kitchen
- convertible, interactive classrooms
- a student-run café
- event space overlooking the Las Vegas Strip
- a professional golf management learning center
- common spaces for students and educators to mingle and collaborate, including interior areas and a number of spacious outdoor patios
- a 2-story+ frameless glass curtain wall system that surrounds the lobby space.
Our scope included both interior and exterior glazing. On the exterior, we installed curtain wall and aluminum glass doors, as well as sunshades at the South curtain wall, and Trex Commercial Products’ railing hardware with Triview tempered/laminated glass.
On the interior, we installed all-glass storefronts (C.R.Laurence and Guardian glass by Trulite); all-glass doors (C.R.Laurence with glass by OldCastle); a sliding glass door at the student café (C.R.Laurence with glass by Glasswerks); and a glass railing by Trex Commercial Products.
Challenges & Solutions
- The building is located in the heart of the UNLV campus, so logistics presented a slight challenge. Access to the site was limited, with just one small road leading to the back of the building. Effective strategic management was necessary to ensure all subcontractor crews and materials could reach the site in a smooth and timely manner. The various teams involved in the project adhered to a strict delivery schedule, taking turns to drop off their respective materials and equipment to avoid traffic jams and delays.
- School was in session and students were on campus for most of the construction period. Classroom buildings, a coffee shop, and other popular destinations surrounded the site, making it a high-traffic area for pedestrians. To ensure safety for all parties, teams positioned workers as “flaggers” to manage pedestrian flow, especially when equipment and vehicles were involved.
- The plans included an advanced door system at the student café, a gathering point located at the base of the grand staircase and visible from the front entry door. The system consists of five heavy glass door panels—about 300 lbs. each—that slide along a track and stack neatly into a pocket, hidden from view when fully opened during business hours.
In addition to the size and weight of the doors, their structural operation also presented a challenge for our team. The system’s design required the use of top-hanging doors—i.e. doors that receive their primary support from above. However, the plans showed a 53-inch gap between the top of the door panels and the overhead support structure that holds their weight.
Diagrams: SPS Elevation, Mud Track Layout, Floor Plan with Doors Parked
To make this unique setup work, we enlisted the help and products of C.R. Laurence for our creative hardware solution. We attached a series of steel rods from the bottom of the second-level slab above to the top of the sliding door track. The results were excellent. The rods provide the structural support needed to mount the head track, and enable the individual doors to slide and stack into their hidden position.
Once we installed the functioning door panels, the ceiling contractor fully enclosed the support structure above them, to provide the finished installation. The creative solution, like the opened doors, is completely invisible to the eyes of the typical café customer.
Preconstruction executive Daniel Rodriguez both estimated and managed this project, and described the broad scope of work completed by Giroux Glass. “This project represented such a wide gamut of all the different types of glass installations that we do: there were curtain walls, railings, doors, storefront, sun shades, and stairways, and our materials included many different types of glass, as well as aluminum and steel. The one type of work missing from our usual repertoire was shower doors – we did none of those here – but just about anything else that we can install, we DID install in this project.”
We were thrilled to play such a major role in the construction of this building—and not just for the business, the beautiful results, or the accolades. We are proud to have helped create an environment that will set so many students on the path to a successful career in hospitality. After serving this dynamic industry in Las Vegas for over 20 years, we recognize the importance of training its next generation of leaders. We hope to work with them all in the decades to come.