Vegas High Roller Observation Wheel Wins National Steel Building Award

September 29, 2015

(Chicago, IL) – 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). In honor of this achievement, members of the project team will be presented with awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) during a ceremony at the project on Friday, October 2, at 6:30 p.m.

Conducted annually by AISC, the IDEASawards recognize outstanding achievement in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects across the country. The IDEASaward is the highest, most prestigious honor bestowed on building projects by the structural steel industry in the U.S. and recognizes the importance of teamwork, coordination and collaboration in fostering successful construction projects.

The High Roller’s project team members include:

  • Owner: Caesars Entertainment Corp., Las Vegas
  • Architects: The Hettema Group, Pasadena, Calif.; Klai Juba Architects, Las Vegas
  • Structural Engineer: Arup, San Francisco
  • General Contractor: W.A. Richardson Builders, LLC, Las Vegas
  • Steel Fabricator and Erector (base): SME Steel, West Jordan, Utah (AISC Member/Advanced Certified)
  • Steel Contractor: American Bridge Company, Coraopolis, Pa. (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 IDEASawards 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 IDEASawards 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.

The IDEASaward dates back more than 50 years with AISC. And about this year’s winning observation wheel, Roger E. Ferch, P.E., president of AISC, said, “The entire Vegas High Roller project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create structures that combine beauty and practicality. The result is an observation wheel that serves the city and its visitors extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

High-resolution images of the Vegas High Roller project are available upon request by contacting AISC’s Tasha Weiss at 312.670.5439 or For more information about the IDEASawards and to view all of this year’s winners, please visit


For more information contact:

Dani Friedland
Marketing Communications Strategist

American Institute of Steel Construction

The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a non-partisan, not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC's mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, market development, and advocacy. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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