Las Vegas Review-Journal: Engineer in step with changing Las Vegas landscape

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By: Danny Webster

Dan Campbell views engineering and ballroom dancing the same way. Both require a sharp mind and thinking one step ahead.

Campbell has been ballroom dancing with his wife, Pam, only for a short time, but he has spent 30 years as an engineer in Southern Nevada.

“You have to keep your wits about you,” Campbell said. “If I lose my concentration, it all goes to crap.”

Campbell founded structural-engineering firm Las Vegas Engineers. His firm designed some of the area’s well-known landmarks, including the Mount Charleston Lodge and the Statue of Liberty outside of New York-New York.

Tired of Spokane, Washington’s snowy winters, Campbell moved to Henderson in 1987. Phoenix and San Diego also were options, but after meeting with engineer Dan Cashton for lunch one day, he was convinced Southern Nevada was the place for him.

“I said (to him), ‘Well, how will I know?’ He said, ‘I’ll tell you how you’re going to know. I’m going to give you a bunch of work today. And you take it back and work on it in Spokane until you decide this is where you want to be.’”

One of the first projects Cashton gave Campbell was the Mount Charleston Lodge.

Campbell already had engineering experience in the Northwest, designing high schools in Washington and Idaho. When he got to Henderson, he had to start fresh.

“It’s hard work,” Campbell said. “You beat the pavement. You do the hard work of just making appointments with people, introducing yourself, start with people that you know will work with engineering services.

“In the end, it’s more about the association of you with the people, the way you communicate with people, rather than your technical expertise. If you don’t have that, you have nothing.”

Campbell has seen Southern Nevada change over the years.

“We’ve lived in Green Valley most of the time,” Campbell said. “(Henderson) is a pretty dynamic city. (Green Valley) was once a small development on the other side of Sunset (Road), but you had to go a ways to get there.”

One engineering trend that he’s seen is an increase in using concrete rather than steel, specifically post-tension and precast concrete.

Precast concrete is manufactured concrete. Rather than using a traditional cement truck, this method creates the concrete in a more controlled environment. Campbell expects the trend to continue.

Campbell said it’s a quicker way to get more projects done, and it can pay off financially.

“The faster you can build (something), the faster you can occupy it and the faster you can make loan payments,” Campbell said. “However you can design and develop systems that can move quicker is a good thing.”

To read the full story on Las Vegas Review-Journal website, click here.

Some of Dan Campbell’s designs

• Mount Charleston Lodge

• MGM Theme Park (1993)

• Statue of Liberty by New York-New York

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