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An Instrumental Project

In an era of statement architecture, how does a building broadcast a rock-and-roll ethos? For the team behind the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino expansion #project in Hollywood, Florida, USA, the answer was turning the hotel itself into the shape of a guitar.

First floated nearly a dozen years ago, the concept wasn’t formally commissioned until 2013. Lead architect Steve Peck, associate principal at Klai Juba Wald Architecture, warned project sponsors that such a challenging design would dramatically inflate the budget. But the idea struck a chord—and they greenlighted the project anyway. Late last year, the project was complete—to the tune of US$1.5 billion.

Piece and Harmony

#Construction of the 638-room Guitar Tower was scheduled to run concurrent with the rest of the property expansion. The program called for demolishing a music venue and mall, erecting a 7,000-seat performance space in their place and completely refurbishing the original hotel and casino. Because the guitar shape couldn’t accommodate the desired room capacity, an adjacent tower was built to satisfy project requirements.

Building Notes

The 450-foot (137-meter) hotel towers over its surroundings. But the nearby Fort Lauderdale airport’s fight corridor posed a constraint to the project’s height—hence the lack of a guitar neck. To fit as as many floors as possible within the height requirements, #engineers planned for relatively thin Floor slabs (between 9 and 12 inches, or 23 and 30 centimeters). The post-tensioned slabs allowed for thinner floor plates, which in turn accommodated the extreme curves of the outer curtain walls. The plan for the unique shape was unforgiving, and redone work was a real #risk. But the project team’s precision meant it had to redo only two anchors for the curtain wall during construction.

In Tempo

“Completion of the development required meticulous coordination among all design specialties,” William R. O’Donnell, managing principal, DeSimone #ConsultingEngineers, said in a press release. The team was crunched for time throughout the construction phase. With just over a year allocated to top off the tower, the project plan called for constructing each floor slab in a matter of days. A streamlined design helped mitigate the lean schedule: Floor to floor, the end bays are the only pieces that vary significantly, and the cables and reinforcements are fairly uniform.


To evoke the guitar’s full shape without exceeding the height constraint, the #ProjectTeam opted for a novel tactic: Every evening, LED light cannons shoot 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) into the sky. Engineers worked with a lighting designer and digital agency to integrate more than 16,000 strips of LED video fixtures along the facade, transforming the reflective glass into a light show.


Source: PMI PMNetwork Volume 34 Number 3

Author: Amanda Hermans

Image credits: Klai Juba Wald Architecture, Access Specialty Group and Miami Herald.

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