Whether looking to chase the thrill of a roller coaster, spend the afternoon getting lost in a shopper’s paradise, or take up ice skating, American Dream has something for everyone. Sprawling over five million square-feet, American Dream, located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is known as the largest entertainment complex on the east coast and offers guests the thrill of the largest combination indoor DreamWorks Waterpark and Nickelodeon Universe theme park in the Western Hemisphere, along with the only indoor ski hill in North America. It also features mini golf, an aquarium, NHL-sized hockey rink, over 100 dining destinations and over 450 stores, services and amenities, including the high-end retail ‘Collections’ area.

American Dream is nothing short of a shoppers and entertainers paradise, and the success of the billion-dollar project can be attributed to the innovative construction techniques used to address the project’s complexity, the broad expertise and determination of the project team, and the collaboration between all stakeholders – all working towards creating an unmatched guest experience. 

American Dream features the DreamWorks Water Park and the Nickelodeon Universe theme park. A project of this magnitude necessitated the use innovative construction techniques such as modular construction. Alone, these two components required 17,000 tons of structural steel and 6,700 tons of essential steel to create the support skeleton, forming 219 modular units. With over 30 years of experience in modular construction both on building and industrial projects, PCL was no stranger to this innovative approach.

What started as a barren on-site parking lot quickly turned into a modular construction yard that ultimately created a cost and time saving solution. The use of modular construction techniques combined with 3-D modeling enabled the team to plan, fabricate and assemble key structural elements in a controlled environment before transporting them to their final placement. With many of the erected components more than 100 feet in the air, completing the majority of the work at ground level in a controlled work environment greatly improved safety, quality and production efficiency. 

The resources involved in building American Dream are staggering – over 26,000 tons of structural steel, 120,000 cubic yards of concrete, 105 miles of piles and 367 miles of conduit; enough conduit to reach Pittsburgh from the jobsite in East Rutherford. While these statistics seem daunting, the team’s knowledgeable experts relished in the opportunity to overcome the challenges posed by the complexity of the project.

We sourced the Manitowoc MLC650 VPC Max, a crane with heavy-lifting capabilities often seen on industrial projects but rarely used for buildings jobs, to navigate through the 250,000-square-foot water park while allowing it to pick at a higher capacity than the traditional crawler crane. With the project sitting on a native swampland, the team worked to find a way to support the crane – boasting a 144-foot-long main boom and 233-foot-long luffing boom. The team developed a “mat concept” to support the VPC Max by building a large platform for the crane to travel on. This method provided a sturdy, level platform for the crane allowing it to perform its heavy-lifting operations while sacrificing minimal laydown space. 

Construction is a complicated business, and success comes from the strong relationships and collaboration between a diverse group of people all working towards one goal. At its peak, American Dream had more than 1,500 workers, emphasizing the importance of developing and advancing a diverse and skilled workforce. To leverage the top talent, we partnered with New York City’s multi-cultural hub to recruit strong talent through local universities and fostering relationships with school administrators involved in international programs.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion expanded beyond our trade contractors and into our own team, with more than 45 percent of the project management team made up of women and minorities. Bringing together a diverse group of individuals with varying skills and expertise all working towards one common goal brought new insights, innovations and experiences to solve the mega challenge at hand.

The success of American Dream showcases our culture of ownership and dedication to delivering a successful project while executing on our client’s vision of creating an unmatched guest experience.