It had been a long layoff for the architects and construction workers building Revel, the $2.4 billion resort and casino rising along the Atlantic City Boardwalk. The extended construction stoppage due to funding difficulties during the recession forced work to halt. In February, funding for finishing the much- ballyhooed project was secured and work once again began on the shiny glass structure, which promises to help put a charge back into the Boardwalk.
Michael Prifti of BLT Architects is the executive architect for the project. He’s charged with getting the project restarted again and leading the massive undertaking to get the resort and casino finished for its opening in mid-2012.
“We had completed all of the design documentation and the project was well into construction,” Prifti says of the projects status when the halt came about. “We were officially pencils-down for 10 months.”
The delay has pushed back the targeted opening date approximately six months. Revel was originally slated to open this December.
Over the course of nearly a year’s wait, the Revel project required new timelines and budgets. And, since the market had shifted during the layoff with the openings of casino-resorts in nearby Pennsylvania and Maryland, some repositioning was also required.
“I think the big issue in terms of design is our repositioning effort. The bulk of the efforts when we restarted are two-fold: new construction administration and to revise the design to where we see the market being in 2012,” Prifti says.
Prifti says that certain items of the design have been changed since the restart. “There’s a tremendous amount of work that’s under construction that is already designed and documented,” he says. In addition, he says, they have attended to construction overall with an eye toward what is changing. “As we answer some riddles and questions, we respond and tell them to proceed,” he continues.
Prifti says that the general organization of the property remains in tact, but details have been modified. For the most part, the color palette has been advanced, while materials have remained largely the same.
Restarting the project after the 10-month delay was something that Prifti and his team were able to jump on. “We were aware that the owner was working on securing the funding and they kept us apprised,” he says. “We would regularly send out communication to our team.”
During the 10 months, BLT Architects kept key Revel personnel at the ready. “We kept them on a very short project lease,” Prifti says. “We would have them do studies and support other projects so we could break them loose when the restart came.”
He also says that the firm kept in constant contact with consultants.
For his part, Prifti happened to be in Atlantic City when word came down that the funding had been secured. “I sent an email within two minutes, and there was about two weeks of warm up and then everyone was at full speed,” he says.
“The contractor, Tishman, was always involved. In the two weeks we got ramped back up, so did they,” Prifti says.
Prifti says that the work is getting done incredibly swiftly since the start up. “I think it’s incredible,” he says. “The New Jersey construction industry was so flat that everyone could get the pick of the litter for personnel and many of the people who were working on Revel before were back.”
That means that there was an in-depth knowledge of the project before the delay so restarting with changes became easier, Prifti says.
Prifti says Revel is a unique property. “First and foremost it is a resort that happens to have a casino in it,” he says. “It is unlike anything else on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.”
One of the unique design elements is an enduring connection to the Atlantic Ocean. The glass exterior allows windows throughout the property to connect guests to the ocean view. That’s a far cry from the often covered up casino designs of the city. “It’s always been an inside-outside connection, which we’ve worked very hard to achieve,” Prifti says.
And now that the project has restarted, Prifti and his team are working doubly hard to bring the property to life.