In the shop: Bobby Pahor, senior project manager for the convention center (left) and Rick Lochmiller, operations manager.
LAS VEGAS – This is a city known for ambitious projects, and the latest addition to its Convention Center is no exception.

At over a million (1.2) square feet, a recent $150 -million expansion puts this city right up there with the biggest of the convention towns, along with Chicago and New York.

Located at Desert Inn and Paradise roads, with the addition this is said to be the seventh largest stand-alone building in the United States. The expansion will add a total of 1,209,000-sq. ft.; 918,000-sq. ft. of exhibit space, 91,000-sq. ft. of meeting area, 200,000-sq. ft. of carpeted area, a new lobby, restaurant, kitchen, and concession stands.

The two-story building is 80 feet tall and 1,800 feet long by 320-feet wide. The South Expansion will connect to the existing North Hall via a 300-foot wide bridge over Desert Inn Road.

The South Hall expansion broke ground in April 2000 and was completed in December 2001. It puts the entire Convention Center at more than 3.2 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space.

The new South Hall is a two-story exhibition hall and will have 51 new meeting rooms and approximately 80,000 square feet dedicated to food service facilities, including a 500-seat restaurant and eight concession stands.

Mechanical contractor is Pahor Air Conditioning. Pahor’s role, according to operations manager Rick Lochmiller, was to furnish and install the hvac and plumbing systems. The hvac system is comprised of 47 large custom rooftop air handling units, with an average airflow of 50,000 cfm. Forty of the units are constant-volume, and service the exhibit space. The other seven are variable-volume, and primarily serve the meeting areas. Numerous 4-pipe fan coil units, DX split-systems, packaged heat pumps, rooftop ventilators, evaporative coolers, and make-up air units are also utilized throughout the project support areas.

The finished product.

Piping follows bridge

Chilled water and heating hot water is supplied to the AHU’s and FCU’s through hydronic piping installed by Plumbers & Pipe Fitters of Local #525 that were employed by Desert Plumbing and Heating, a subcontractor of Pahor. This piping is routed along the 300-foot wide bridge over Desert Inn Road to the existing North Hall Central Plant. A Central Plant Expansion is being built in conjunction with the South Expansion project to handle the additional capacity requirements.

What does it feel like to work on this kind of a project? Pahor’s project coordinator, Christine Arneson said, “It didn’t really hit me just how impressive the massive display of over six miles of spiral ductwork was until I attended the first convention that was held there and I overheard the attendees commenting on all of the spiral ductwork and how good it looked.”

The 47 rooftop air handling units weighed approximately 35,000 pounds each. De-mounting of the units on the job site was required in order to lift them into place with the crane —a Linkbelt Model 718, 250-ton Crawler with a tower attachment. The crane was unable to reach many of the AHU’s locations which required them to be placed on a temporary curb first and then rolled into the permanent location. As a result of the very close coordination and pre-planning, all 47 AHU’s that came in more than 115 sections were set in place using only 53 hours of total crane time.

An unusual aspect concerning the ductwork is the manner in which the rooftop supply and return ductwork was fabricated, delivered, and installed. Due to the cumbersome size and weight of this ductwork, it was delivered from the shop in knocked-down (KD) form. After being hoisted to the roof, the finished product was assembled at a mobile ductwork fabrication/assembly shop that was constructed on the roof of the building.

At completion, the total construction costs of the expansion will approach $150 million, with Pahor’s mechanical contract of nearly $21 million. These figures do not represent the design team or construction manager fees, or the Central Plant Expansion being built in conjunction with the South Expansion project.

The project broke ground on March 27, 1999, and took 21 months to complete.

Pahor employees at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Since 1938

Pahor Air Conditioning, Inc. operates out of a 23,500 sq.-ft. facility located at 5080 South Cameron, Las Vegas. Pahor was founded by Emil M. Pahor in 1938. Pahor hailed from Milwaukee and began in business as O.K. Plumbing & Heating, changing the name in 1966 to Emil M. Pahor Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors.

Today Pahor claims it is the oldest licensed mechanical contractor in the State of Nevada. Emil’s son Robert “Bob” Pahor recently received his 40-year membership pin from Local #88 Sheet Meal Workers Union while grandson “Bobby” Pahor serves as the company’s corporate secretary and in-house engineer.

Pahor’s facility on Cameron Street is fully equipped with the latest computerized duct fabrication equipment employing 100 tradespeople and 20 office workers. Pahor has a 23,500-sq.-ft. facility with 14,000-sq.-ft. of it being the fabrication shop that has an overhead crane that runs the entire length of the shop. The company does an approximate annual volume of $40 million. In-shop equipment includes a Lockformer L-Tec Plasma Duct Cutting System, Vulcan Model 2900 Plasma Duct Cutting System, Lockformer Whisper Lock, Lockformer TDC Corner Matic, Lockformer Free Standing TDC Machine, 12’ Accupress and a 10’ Accushear.

Pahor says, “We can build almost anything we need,” and indeed most of the fabrication is done in-house.

In June of 2000, Pahor became a solely owned subsidiary of Midwest Mechanical Contractors, Inc. headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas. Midwest has additional offices located in Omaha, Neb., Tampa, Fla., and Parsippany, N.J. and is an employee owned “ESOP” company.

At its peak, the convention center project utilized 30 on-site sheet metal workers from SMWIA Local No. 88. Eric Hefley was the project general foreman. Shop functions were handled by Shop Foreman Danny Casados. Steve Kimmel, the general superintendent for Pahor Air Conditioning, oversaw both men’s activities while Bob Pahor, PE served as the senior project manager for the project.

In 2000, nearly 3.9 million convention-goers visited southern Nevada, bringing with them a non-gaming economic impact of $4.3 billion.

This project was performed with a “Project Labor Agreement” for all trades involved in the project. A Project Labor Agreement is an agreement between all of the labor unions and the owner that there will be no strikes or lockouts if the owner in turn agrees to use 100% union labor on his project.

Many Pahor projects dot the Nevada landscape, including schools, hospitals, and several casinos: the Dunes, the Flamingo, the Mirage, the Rio, etc. One other one is particularly noteworthy: the Thomas and Mack Center, home of the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) basketball teams, showcase for rodeos, concerts and car racing. That job required ductwork in 32-foot sections to be hoisted into place using two separate cranes, the 14-foot dia. duct hoisted into place with workers riding along it to guide it into place. Nothing like it had ever been attempted before in the local construction industry.