Las Vegas' 580,000-square-foot 'The Sphere' is world's largest spherical building

The newest addition to Las Vegas' skyline, the so-called "Sphere," lit up and tested its gigantic exterior screen for the first time this Fourth of July.
Christopher McFadden
The Sphere fired up its screen for the first time this Fourth of July.

Sphere Entertainment 

For a few brief moments during this year's Independence Day in the US, the world's largest LED display fired up with a simple message "Hello World".

Officially called the "Madison Square Garden Sphere," or just "The Sphere," the spherical building is a true architectural and engineering modern marvel. Built with an estimated budget of $2.3 billion, the building is believed to be the largest spherical building in the world.

"The Sphere" is a giant spherical LED display

The building reaches a towering height of 366 ft (111 m) and boasts a width of 516 ft (157 m), surpassing even the colossal Avicii Arena in Sweden in size. Its impressive LED exterior spans a whopping 580,000 sq ft (almost 54,000 sq m). The exterior is made up of approximately 1.2 million LED pucks, each of which contains 48 individual LEDs. Notably, the exterior is fully programmable, allowing some truly impressive images to be displayed outside.

Designed as an entertainment venue, it can accommodate 17,600 seated or 20,000, including standing areas. It will be utilized for major concerts and sporting events such as boxing and mixed martial arts. The rock band U2 has been booked for The Sphere's official opening event towards the end of September this year.

The interior design hasn't been unveiled yet, except in digital representations, and its primary area will feature a massive curved screen. It's important to note that this 16K x 16K LED screen will be located on the ceiling inside the venue, distinct from the LEDs on the outside and will envelop the audience for an all-encompassing experience.

Up to 10,000 seats will feature advanced 4D technology, with haptic feedback and environmental effects that can simulate sensations like a cool breeze, a shift in temperature, and even scents. A specialized camera system capable of capturing imagery at 120 frames per second in 18K square formats has also been developed to provide content for immersive experiences.

U2 will play the venue when it opens in September

"As part of a special show to celebrate the Fourth of July, for the first time, Sphere's 580,000 square foot fully-programmable LED exterior – the largest LED screen on Earth – was completely illuminated," explained the Sphere's press release.

"The show started with a welcome – 'Hello World' – and was followed by dazzling fireworks and stars and stripes animations, before transitioning through a wide array of visual content, from vibrant underwater scenes to performances to vividly-textured lunar surfaces, putting on full display the versatility of this unparalleled canvas," they added.

"The Sphere" is, by all accounts, structurally complete and part of a duo, with its London counterpart currently in the works. However, the future of the London project remains uncertain due to concerns about light pollution, which prompted a government minister to intervene.

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