Thursday, October 7, 2010

CityCenter - New Urbanism in Vegas?

We're having a little run of Las Vegas related posts this week, so I thought I'd post an excerpt from the recent New Yorker article on CityCenter:

The complex is called CityCenter, and it is the biggest construction project in the history of Las Vegas. It has three hotels, two condominium towers, a shopping mall, a convention center, a couple of dozen restaurants, a private monorail, and a casino. There was to have been a fourth hotel, whose opening has been delayed indefinitely. But even without it the project contains nearly eighteen million square feet of space, the equivalent of roughly six Empire State Buildings. “We wanted to create an urban space that would expand our center of gravity,” Jim Murren, the chairman of the company, told me. Murren, an art and architecture buff who studied urban planning in college and wrote his undergraduate thesis on the design of small urban parks, oversaw the selection of architects, and the result is a kind of gated community of glittering starchitect ambition. There are major buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, Pelli Clarke Pelli, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and Norman Foster; and interiors by Peter Marino, Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis, Bentel and Bentel, and AvroKO. There are also prominent sculptures by Maya Lin, Nancy Rubins, and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. “The idea I wanted to convey was to bring smarter planning to the development process in Las Vegas, to expand our boundaries of knowledge,” Murren told me. “Las Vegas is always looked down upon. CityCenter is a counterpoint to the kitschiness.”

I've never been a huge fan of Vegas, even though my husband and I once renewed our wedding vows before an Elvis impersonator at Graceland Chapel and had dinner afterward at the Stratosphere - where we could hear the screams of the 'coaster riders over the Michael Jackson impersonator in the bar. I'm a little bit confused, though, why this company is trying to bring what are now very typical urban forms into a totally unique urban environment.  It's hard to say how that's "expanding [the] boundaries of knowledge." We'll see if they succeed.

Jamie Baker Roskie

Development, Las Vegas, New Urbanism | Permalink

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