An Architectural Role of the Dice
From a design snob’s point of view, Las Vegas is an easy target. Established in 1905, the city now has a population of almost two million people, making it the most populous US city founded in the 20th Century. The availability of water and legalized gambling breathed life into the desert sands and created a city design dominated by the casinos.
Sure it’s all fake but you have to admire the attention to detail and the grand scale of the imitations.
was conceived by Jay Sarno, a former residential contractor who borrowed European-style hotel designs for his creation. The scheme routes all the guests through the casino on their way to accommodations, shops or restaurants. The project was built in 1966 and then sold in 1969. Construction financing was moved forward with some help from Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters Union. Some of the city’s best and most interesting restaurants can be found inside the walls of the casinos including Beijing Noodle No. 9 in Caesars, as seen below. I can’t vouch for the noodles but the interior design is way cool.
In Las Vegas you will find a faux Eiffel Tower, a pyramid with a hotel inside, and a representation of the New York skyline complete with the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. The spirit of Coney Island lives here as witnessed by a working roller coaster that travels around the property.
New York, New York
opened in 1997 as a joint venture of MGM Grand and Primadonna Resorts. The interior of the casino is fashioned after a Greenwich Village streetscape.
With all the architectural replicas, Las Vegas took a huge turn towards reality with the creation of
a 16 million square foot mixed-use complex that encompasses 76 acres. Founded by MGM Resorts and Dubai World it is the largest privately funded construction project in US history. It’s connected to MGM sister properties by a people mover.
The property’s master plan was conceived by Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut and Kuhn Architects (EEK), and encompasses 2400 condos, and 4800 hotel rooms. Reclaimed water is used on the property, which combined with other green features earned the project LEED Gold certifications in 2009. The total cost of the project was about $9.2 billion with a “b.” The development includes six separate structures including a Mandarin Oriental hotel, Aria Casino, The Harmon Hotel, Vdara Condominiums, The Crystals retail and entertainment center, and Veer Towers condominiums, which actually lean or veer, 4.6 degrees off-center.
Vegas isn’t for everybody. It’s basically a company town and the company is the gaming industry. If you look out beyond the city limits, past the glitz of the strip you’ll get a clear view of the Spring mountains, showing you that the natural world is actually not that far away. The built environment also provides unexpected pleasure like the fountains in front of Bellagio and the Greco-Roman influenced décor of the Garden of the Gods at Caesars. Love it or hate, there really isn’t anything quite like Las Vegas.
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