On the Road with Amr: The Path to Prefab in Las Vegas, Part 1 

amr on the road in las vegas

On my continued quest for innovation, I’m on the road in Las Vegas at Autodesk University (AU), in this 3-part series. As I touch down in Las Vegas, I’m struck by a city that blends the timeless charm of classic architecture with the cutting-edge designs of the present. Las Vegas is the ultimate urban chameleon, constantly evolving into new realities; there's always something new and inspiring to discover. 

The MSG Sphere at The Venetian is an example and the latest addition to Las Vegas's architectural landscape. Designed to transform the way audiences experience concerts and events, the MSG Sphere creates an exciting and extraordinary experience for its visitors and the entire Las Vegas community. It is the largest spherical structure in the world, resting on the Collar, a twisting surface that curves around the base of the building. During my visit, I explored some of the planning and technologies used in constructing the MSG Sphere, learning first-hand from an expert who worked on this remarkable project. 

Today, I will delve deep into how building information modeling (BIM), generative design, and prefabrication brought the MSG Sphere vision to life and how prefabrication unlocks the potential for even more creative designs. I had the pleasure of meeting with Scott Mitchell, CEO and Founder of Stud-IO, a member of the MSG Sphere project team, and Nick Coubray, CEO of Howick LTD, a provider of high-precision steel framing machinery based in New Zealand.  

Check out my interviews with Scott and Nick—and get inspired! Discover how prefabrication and digital design techniques can transform ambitious design concepts into tangible realities—all while prioritizing efficiency and sustainability.  

Watch the interview with Scott Mitchell, CEO of Stud-IO: 

Watch the interview with Nick Coubray, CEO of Howick, LTD:

Scott and Nick show us how the boundless possibilities for high-quality precision machinery can transform prefabricated designs and reshape the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. Check out the key takeaways: 

Building Complex Designs within Budget Constraints 

The widespread adoption of BIM is propelling the prefabrication workflow to new levels. On the MSG Sphere project, STUD-IO zeroed in on the prefabricated panels that make up the intricate geometry of the MSG Sphere's Collar, creating a more efficient approach to design, fabrication, and installation. By leveraging BIM combined with its StudFinder software, STUD-IO streamlined the design of custom panel frames and automated the fabrication of components, including computer numerical control (CNC) foam parts for the exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS) finish. Incorporating automated information for the robotic layout of panels ensured precision at every stage of the project. The result was a finished project delivered within budget constraints, while reducing waste and eliminating rework and surprises onsite. 

Prefabrication Technology can be Adapted to Existing Conditions 

One of the challenges of interior fit-outs for existing spaces is that walls and ceilings are rarely (if ever) straight. Howick introduces an innovative solution to streamline the installation process for steel framing systems. They pre-assemble the non-load bearing panels, which can be compressed for efficient transportation to the site. Upon arrival, the panels can be effortlessly expanded and adjusted, ensuring a precise fit without onsite measurements and trimming—effectively minimizing material waste. The resulting frames are strong, lightweight, and retractable, making them easy to maneuver and ideal for tight spaces and refurbishments. 

It’s an exciting time in the AEC industry, and the prefabricated possibilities will allow us to think differently about how we design, fabricate, and build spaces across our built environment, making sure that the old and new blend harmoniously. 

Amr Raafat

As Chief Innovation Officer at Windover Construction, Amr leverages technology to optimize project delivery. He previously led the virtual design and construction team and the Innovations for Design, Engineering, and Automation, IDEA™ platform providing leading-edge technology services to streamline the construction process. With more than 20 years of experience combining architecture, construction, and engineering, he’s a champion of pioneering construction technologies to streamline project procurement. Amr received the ‘Innovator of the Year’ award as part of the 2019 Autodesk AEC Excellence Awards. He received his master’s degree in architecture from Boston Architectural College.