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Comments (40) Posted 02.19.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Mark Lamster

What Am I Doing Here? Tall Buildings and High Anxiety in Las Vegas


Daniel Libeskind's Crystals shopping mall at CityCenter, Las Vegas. Photos: Mark Lamster

A weakness of much architectural criticism is that it is, by nature and necessity, formalist. A critic looks at a work in its opening week — if not before — forms an opinion on its aesthetics and takes a guess as to how it will function. There is utility to this practice: we all want to hear about the next new thing, and we want to hear about it right now. But it’s also deceptive; so many of architecture’s qualities reveal themselves over time and through prolonged experience. Visiting a place is vastly different from living in a place. Our perceptions of something new will gradually change as we learn to live with it, as we see how it operates and as our behavior changes along with it. The departed World Trade Center, if nothing else, serves as an indelible reminder of just how vastly our ideas about buildings evolve over time. 

A few weeks ago I spent three days in a new entertainment complex, CityCenter, in Las Vegas. What follows here is not a traditional review, but a diary of my experience in that time. While I won’t pretend that this offers some kind of corrective to the problem described above, it did at least allow for a certain immersion in the project, and along similar lines to what a typical guest might experience. It should be noted that my stay was financed by CityCenter. This is how a good deal of architectural coverage is paid for in these straitened times. Few publications have the resources to send critics around the globe, and the number is ever diminishing. 

Before we begin in earnest, here’s the tale of the tape: CityCenter, as its name implies, is a downtown unto itself: 67 acres, 3 miles in circumference, more than 6,000 hotel rooms serviced by 12,000 employees. It cost upward of $8 billion to build. The place has generated its share of controversies, about which you can read elsewhere. It is wedged into a plot along the Las Vegas Strip between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo, to which it is connected by a private monorail — all three properties are owned by MGM Mirage. CityCenter was master-planned by Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut, and Kuhn, and has four hotels designed by name-brand architectural practices (Cesar Pelli, Rafael Vinoly, Norman Foster, KPF), a pair of condo towers (by Murphy/Jahn), and a full-blown work of starchitecture (a shopping mall by Daniel Libeskind). Its conceits are several: It is the first and only “green” complex on the Strip. It is a diversified entertainment complex in which gambling will not be the primary revenue source. It is relentlessly and unapologetically modern. 

Okay. Here we go. 

CityCenter seen from the Strip: an anodized-aluminum Oz sheathed in reflective glass

DAY 1
3:30 PM: Picked up at McCarron airport by one of CityCenter’s stretch limousines. It is silver and powered by natural gas. Can there be such a thing as a “green” fleet of stretch limos? Welcome to Las Vegas. 

4:15 PM: Arrive at CityCenter. First impression: the statistics attesting to its scale hardly do it justice. It makes New York’s TimeWarner Center look like a suburban strip mall. It appears cool and efficient and expensive — the same ambiance as TimeWarner. It takes the danger and seaminess out of Las Vegas and replaces it with name-brand corporate opulence. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’d like to experience a little of the honky-tonk that makes Vegas Vegas, but I’m glad to have an austere room with impeccable fittings — no cheesy faux design here. The Aria hotel (Cesar Pelli) is pristine, and the view from the thirty-fourth floor extends beyond some pretty unimpressive competition. (I’m looking at you, Planet Hollywood.)

4:30 PM: As for honky-tonk: it’s right across the street. Tattoo parlors. Discount marts. Off-brand fast-food joints. But it’s hard to get to them. CityCenter is an anodized-aluminum Oz sheathed in reflective glass, a place apart from a city as fragmented as Daniel Libeskind’s architecture. There is literally no way to cross the street at grade. Forget being a pedestrian here. 

4:45 PM: One has to walk outdoors to travel between the buildings within CityCenter. This was a strategy imposed on the architects to foster a sense of urbanity and to keep the place from feeling hermetic, but it’s less than ideal on this (rare) rainy day, and I suspect it will be especially unpleasant in August, when it’s 125 degrees in the shade.

5:30 PM: A note on Las Vegas nomenclature: It’s gaming, not gambling. Gambling is a foolish activity that can only end in tears. Gaming is harmless entertainment. Please keep them straight. 

9:00 PM: Survived “Viva Elvis® by Cirque de Soleil™,” billed as “a harmonious fusion of dance, acrobatics, and live music.” It is not harmonious. It is an assault on the senses. Feel slightly guilty that I had my fingers jammed in my ears for the entire show with one of CityCenter’s PR reps sitting next to me.
 
11:00 PM: One suspects that occupancy rates are low, but the casino floor is jumping on a school night. There’s a rumor circulating, almost certainly apocryphal, that a Japanese businessman has dropped $89 million in the casino. Meanwhile, a fellow journalist and former professional gambler has taken the place for $250. In a most unlikely turn of events, I actually feel sympathy for a casino.
 
11:30 PM: Hmm. The taps in my sinks (you get two in each room) are coughing like the fish fountain in Tati’s Mon Oncle. All electronics in the room are digital interfaces, a system that’s a bit too sophisticated for its own good. Did I just set my alarm for 7:30? Not sure.
 
Murphy/Jahn's Veer Towers (left), Crystals interior (right)

DAY 2
7:30 AM: Alarm works. 

8:00 AM: Alas, breakfast with an old college roommate is off. He’s a recent transplant to Vegas from Buffalo, but out of town on business. I’m interested in his experience of these two places on opposite ends of the American urban spectrum, one a frigid industrial city with its best years behind it, the other a rapidly expanding desert metropolis built on an economy of dreams. 
 
9:00 AM: Managed to cross the Strip via pedestrian bridge to get the wide view of the complex. CityCenter is what you might call Post-Metaphor Las Vegas. Cosmetically, its buildings are not simulacra of buildings from other places and times — Rome, Paris, New York, Venice, Medieval England. Nor does it seem like “Sin City.” It’s not seedy. It’s more khaki pants than sharkskin suit. Which begs this question, at least for me: What’s the point of CityCenter if it’s just an upscale development in a mid-size American city, six hours from New York?

9:15 AM: How big is CityCenter? The Harmon, at 25 stories, is the “boutique” hotel on the lot. And it was planned to be considerably taller. Differentiating between the hotels — the Aria, the Vdara, the Mandarin Oriental — is difficult. They all look vaguely similar (towers of reflective glass), with vaguely similar amenities. 

9:45 AM: Building heights on the Strip are determined by the “cone of approach” air corridor to nearby McCarron Airport. This is the opposite of zoning in most cities, where building heights are stepped back from the ground up. In Vegas, it happens from above. A bit of investigation reveals this to be a fairly
contentious legal issue. Does the airport’s appropriation of aerial space constitute an unconstitutional taking of property rights? Let’s leave that to the lawyers, and our friends at Bldgblog.

10:00 AM: Principal architect Francisco Gonzalez leads a tour of Murphy/Jahn’s Veer Towers. They lean at 5 degrees, hence the name. Actually, it’s not a tour: the buildings are not yet open. A few journalists and the PR team mill around on the access road in front of the buildings, which are easily the best things about CityCenter. They are at once robust and delicate. There’s no reflective glass. This is unheard of in Vegas, and was a major concession won by Gonzalez. Staggered panels of clear and fritted yellow glass animate the facades and give the complex a welcome shot of color. Horizontal louvers (Gonzalez calls them “fins”) give shade from the desert sun. Most of the condo units are sold. Whether anyone will actually use them or if they’re simply investment properties is another question.
 
11:00 AM: After the tour, Gonzalez and I take a walk around Crystals, Libeskind’s shopping mall, which is adjacent to the Veer Towers and shares some of their support structure. Gonzalez wears a leather coat and has a disarming Spanish accent that belies a bulldog personality. “I was hated here but I got everything I wanted. I don’t think Libeskind pushed hard enough. He got a mall. I think he was happy with that. I came in with my crazy English and I pushed very hard.” I have a difficult time believing anyone hated him. He is sincere, free of pretense, sharp. A reflection of his work. Libeskind, clearly, was impressed. The two are collaborating on a major development project in East Asia.
 
11:45 AM:
Planet Hollywood Las Vegas: World’s ugliest building? Discuss amongst yourselves.
 
11:55 AM: With the exception of a branded Assouline shop in Crystals, there is no bookstore on the strip. There was a Borders at the Mandalay Bay, but it closed. Also, the fountains at the Bellagio don’t start until 3 PM. Learned that the hard way.
 
12:30 PM: Lunch at American Fish, chef Michael Mina’s seafood restaurant at Aria. Fine dining is structured as a major component of CityCenter’s appeal, and there are restaurants helmed by star chefs studded throughout the complex. The food at this one is especially good, and I don’t even like seafood. The décor? Comfortable. Every restaurant here looks essentially the same, in a contemporary but impersonal way. The servers are uniformly excellent, as if they’ve somehow internalized Danny Meyer’s philosophy of hospitality. Which begs a question. Are the servers outside of New York naturally nice? Does New York so jade its inhabitants that even our servers require a remedial course in professional behavior?

1:30 PM: Tour of Crystals, CityCenter’s signature work of starchitecture. A Libeskind minion tries his best to retroactively justify Libeskind’s idiosyncratic architectural language. “It’s a vortex drawing energy off the strip.” “It’s a lifelike spiral.” “Rocks.” “Fractals.” Please stop. Does it matter, anyway? From the outside, it’s dramatic and shiny. Inside, it’s a bit disappointing. The folds and cuts so prominent on the exterior suggest intriguing, Piranesian spaces, but upon entering one finds a fairly straightforward mall with some wonky ceilings and skylights. Shadows are projected on blank walls where you’d think the skylights would throw their own patterns. This seems like a failing. If you need projections to create visual drama, why all the structural gymnastics? Materially rich and visually sumptuous installations by
David Rockwell — a teak stairwell, a blobby wooden catwalk — clash uncomfortably with Libeskind’s angular white-walled avant-gardism. Sculptures by WET, the firm behind the Bellagio fountains, are underwhelming, though still works-in-progress. 

2:30 PM: Despite its flaws, it’s hard not to be won over by Crystals. It does have its dramatic moments, especially from the outside. It makes, at least by Vegas standards, considerable effort to engage its neighbors and the street. I’ve heard it said that its entire purpose is to occupy the wives of high-stakes gamblers, but this doesn’t seem especially fair. With his silly glasses and funny accent, Libeskind has made something of a cartoon of himself, which is a shame. As Lebbeus Woods
recently noted, Libeskind’s experimental “Machines” of the 1980s are beautiful and complex metaphorical works that still have the power to inspire. I wish he’d look back at that work and quit it with the “spirals” and “vortexes” and “fractals.” 
 
3:00 PM: Is there public space in Las Vegas without piped-in music? 

5:00 PM: The absurdity of CityCenter’s urban gesture of separating its buildings now becomes apparent. The PR team has arranged for SUVs to take journalists from the Aria to the Mandarin Oriental for a cocktail party. The buildings are maybe 150 feet from each other.

5:30 PM: The lobby of the Mandarin Oriental smells like fancy soap, and the Sky Bar has panoramic views. But I start to feel claustrophobic and duck out of the event. For a certain type of person, Vegas is a non-stop party. For me, it induces a kind of persistent low-grade anxiety. There’s something dystopic about the place generally, and CityCenter is starting to feel like the world of
Blade Runner come to life. I head back to my room, shut the black-out curtains and lie in bed. More people commit suicide in Las Vegas than in any other city in the United States.

7:30 PM: I like
Karim Rashid. He has the courage of his convictions, even if I don’t share them, and he’s unafraid to appear slightly ridiculous in public. That said, Silk Road, his restaurant at the Vdara, is not a success, even on his terms. The blobby sofas in its bar area are uncomfortable and the decorative wave patterns on its walls looks like they were pulled from the lobby of a Marriott.

9:45 PM: Dinner at Silk Road has now entered its third hour, despite a paucity of customers. The mind wanders. Is the word
vdara Spanish for “banal architectural experience”? Alas, no. It is the invention of the CityCenter marketing team, and has no meaning. Lesson learned. With due respect to Robert Venturi, Las Vegas is no longer a good place to look for meaning.

 
10:00 PM: While we’re at it, the Silk Road isn’t a focused enough theme for a coherent menu. It’s too weak a thread to unite the cuisines of China, India, Persia and the Mediterranean. And because this is Vegas, the restaurant also has to double as a steak house — the Silk Road by way of Nebraska? — which makes no sense but says something about the clientele. The result: generic restaurant food.
 
10:45 PM: After dinner, journalists are invited to Eva Longoria Parker’s nightclub, Eve, in Crystals. I pass by on the way to the Bellagio fountains. Eva Longoria Parker is not in attendance. The women pretty much all wear sequined tube dresses hiked to mid-thigh. The men look unkempt. Not really my scene.

11:15 PM: Am I the only person not entranced by the Bellagio fountains? They’re visually impressive and a technological feat, fine, but it’s hard for me to enjoy anything accompanied by the schlocky music of Elton John.
 
Entrance to Cesar Pelli's Aria hotel, a bravura work of structural design

DAY 3
9:00 AM. Along the long corridor leading to the convention hall, the entire Aria staff has lined up to cheer attendees of a large luxury travel conference, a much coveted “get” for the fledgling hotel. The media center is on the path, so I get the treatment. It’s nice to wake up to a standing ovation, but it feels silly and contrived.
 
9:15 AM: A tour of Aria with a pair of enthusiastic architects from Pelli’s New Haven office. Working hundred-hour weeks for several years running, they managed to design Aria, all 8 million square feet of it, without opening an office in Las Vegas. Can’t blame them.
 
9:20 AM: The enormous semicircular glass canopy that fronts the Aria is a bravura work of structural design, one of the highlights of the complex.
 
9:30 AM: Ditch the tour to head out to the Strip so I can buy a souvenir for my daughter. (A small stuffed animal in the Aria gift shop goes for $68.) Walk down to the New York New York complex, which has an air of squalid desperation. How it will survive with CityCenter and other new developments competing for business is beyond me. A friend quips that the only way they could fill the place is “if they reenact 9/11 every morning.” No comment.
 
9:45 AM: Worth noting that the fake New York has a dummy Whitney Museum (albeit with a crass theater marquee in place of Breuer’s bridge/awning assembly). I love the Whitney, but it’s odd that they’ve chosen it instead of the more famous Guggenheim facade. Did the Guggenheim’s aggressive legal team have something to do with this? I’ll bet.
 
12:45 PM: My stay is over. Another “sustainable” limo ride to the airport. The environmentally attuned strech limo is the operative metaphor for CityCenter.
 
10:30 PM: Back in New York, on the BQE, the city skyline visible on the horizon through the window of a Town Car. Lights are lights. But somehow these seem anchored, real, solid. The Vegas anomie finally begins to wane.

Ersatz Brooklyn Bridge at New York New York complex, Las Vegas

DAY 4
7:00 PM: Drinks at Prime Meats, in Brooklyn, with my wife. Realistically, this place is as much an artifice as anything on the Strip, a re-imagining of a 19th-century saloon, complete with polished bar, antique typography, Edison bulbs. Why, then, does it feel so much more honest? Because its aesthetic is filtered through a contemporary sensibility? Because it seems a natural part of a vibrant neighborhood? Is this all bullshit I invent to make myself feel more comfortable? Could the real problem with Las Vegas —
my real problem with Las Vegas — be that its commercial imperatives are simply too transparent? Are my insecurities the problem? Maybe a bit of artifice is what I need to survive; the make-up that makes the model appealing. Anyway, the punch is good. Time for another round.
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Comments (40)   |   JUMP TO MOST RECENT >>

Looks like someone has been reading D'Agata.
Yucca
02.25.10 at 07:43

Excellent piece, Mark. And especially the idea of reviewing a building or place once it's actually open and in operation. What a radical idea!
James Sanders
02.26.10 at 12:00

Very interesting read. I gotta ask though Mr. Lamster, when you went to Prime Meats in Brooklyn with your wife did you refer to it as The Prime Meats like you referred to Silk Road as the Silk Road or the ARIA. When you go grocery shopping do you do it at the Whole Foods. Unless the word The is in the name I do not understand the usage of the word. Just a pet peeve of someone that works in an industry that prides itself in the power of branding.
Steven
02.26.10 at 12:29

Great piece. I'm waiting for Dave Hickey to comment on this newest bit of Vegas Starchitecture spooge.
Craig
02.26.10 at 01:28

Mark: In a quite way I'm reminded of the disclaimers that warn you of the harmful consequences associated with a drug while the images speak to another reality. In your case, however, the message is in the language. It assumes that the reader has a brain and your opinions provide a springboard from which he is to draw his own conclusions. Your days in the life of City Center approach is a clever way of letting us walk a mile in your shoes. You cover a lot of territory and it's a colorful and informative read. Thanks for sharing.
Lester Sloan
02.26.10 at 02:14

Oh for pete's sake. Thinly disguised New York snobbery. Have you never been to Las Vegas before?
Bob Bobmore
02.26.10 at 11:47

The difference between the artifice in Prime Meats in Brooklyn and the artifice is Las Vegas is that Vegas is all artifice. In Vegas you can palpably feel the total lack of sincerity and its accompanying vacuum whose sole purpose is to extract money from your wallet. Every sound, every vision, every experience is complete cynicism.
Tom CF
02.26.10 at 12:07

You manage to use "beg the question" wrong TWICE! Excellent.
Baal Warmer
02.26.10 at 12:07

Here's my tourist's take on "What’s the point of CityCenter if it’s just an upscale development in a mid-size American city, six hours from New York?".

In a nutshell, I see no point or value in a continued Disneyfication of Vegas. For most of the places those that adopted a heavy theme, any semblance of seamless experience degrades quickly as soon as you get past the lobby or casino floor. By the time you're in your room, you couldn't differentiate it from any major hotel chain room in any other city. I think the question should be flipped on it's head a bit and ask why would someone go to Vegas to think or believe their experiencing Rome, Paris or New York?
John M. Carlin
02.26.10 at 12:41

I'm just as pedantic as the next guy — unless the next guy is in this particular comments section.

Steven, I think you'll find that no matter how hard you try, it's really swimming against the tide to get people to stop using the "the" before the name of a hotel in casual usage. You can control the branding on the letterhead, on the website, on the sign out front, and in press releases, but in conversation (and, by extension, in blog posts) people will occasionally reflexively refer to, say, X Hotel & Spa as "the X hotel." You'd have just as much luck trying to get them to pronounce ARIA in all caps.

And when it comes to Silk Road (the restaurant), I would only point out that if you're going to name a restaurant after something (a road) that is, after all, actually called "the Silk Road" then you're going to hear that "the" pop back in from time to time.

Why complain about people insufficiently respecting the power of branding? Why not take it as a lesson about the limits of branding?
john
02.26.10 at 01:11

Yes, you are the only one not entranced by the Bellagio Fountains. You don't like Elton John? Fine, then wait 15 minutes for the next show, which will have different music. I think they have over 20 different shows, each to a different song. Your criticism of it looks silly when you don't acknowledge this fact.

Also, the airport is spelled McCarran. There's no "o" in it.
Marc
02.26.10 at 01:29

@steven If the "branding" still requires you to go around trying to enforce its usage in the vernacular, it's the fault of the control freaks. In short, the user is right.
Eric
02.26.10 at 02:12

Funny & Insightful. Great read.
miriam
02.26.10 at 02:14

I appreciate this narrative approach, though more attention to the structures themselves would have been welcome. My enjoyment may be based a bit too much on our shared distaste for Vegas, though.

And at the risk of redundancy with Baal, please do read http://begthequestion.info/
Hans Gerwitz
02.26.10 at 02:31

I'm struggling to determine why this piece was featured on Design Observer as it is not, as the author states, a "traditional review." Instead it reads like a list of gripes about a free trip to Las Vegas with incidental observations on architecture sprinkled in conservatively.

I'm also disappointed that Lamster completely failed to describe the casino inside of CityCenter, which was easily my favorite feature of the whole place. It's dark and has a kind of fun faux-sinister vibe owing to the paint colors, wall coverings and indirect lighting. It's definitely a simulacrum of seediness, but it succeeds--it created an emotional space for me where gambling (gaming?) felt "wrong but oh-so-right."

Next time DO posts a Vegas architecture review, I suggest sending someone who will make an effort to cut out the New York City comparisons, since Vegas and NYC are about as similar as bananas and umbrellas.
Ryan Eanes
02.26.10 at 02:49

Excellent!! You called it like it is, warts and all. I'm still laughing about Libeskind's utterly moronic flunky: “It’s a vortex drawing energy off the strip.” “It’s a lifelike spiral.” - These intellectually-challenged apes think they are impressing or intimidating the listener. All the world seems to be smirking at the stupidity of this clown.
Allan
02.26.10 at 06:15

Does misspelling McCarran count as a faux pas?
Michael
02.26.10 at 06:59

I loved my one week visit to Las Vegas last Juanuary. Entering Citi Center was quite eye-opening, exciting and yes, exhausting. The inside Aria Hotel decor was a brown orgasm of understatement. The cold weather helped us walk, walk and walk between all of the glass buildings. The main question is: what will Fat America do in July when the temperatures reaches 128 degrees? Clark County had better rent one or two of the empty luxury shop spaces for Mini Emergency Room Clinics. Hope they stay out of Chapter Eleven!
dan stutz
02.26.10 at 10:36

Do you use the expression 'begs the question' in an attempt at claiming for it this new meaning of 'raises the question' or do you not know its correct meaning?
Josh
02.26.10 at 10:48

@ Steven: when the author writes 'the Silk Road' he is talking about the original, the trade route. he calls the restaurant 'Silk Road' consistently. no need for discussion about branding. this was a misreading.
timbad
02.27.10 at 02:50

First time visitor. Enjoyed the read. Wish I could write this way. Las Vegas is dying slowly (or is it fast). I'll gve City Center a few years before default on payments.

Must be the wine I consumed, find Mark terribly entertaining. Are you ever in Sweden? If so I'll buy the first five rounds.
Hakan
02.27.10 at 12:58

Vegas is the one city in this country where you can let it all hang out. MGM Mirage could have and should have done a better job in the planning, devlopment and execution of City Center, but let's also remember they made it that happen amidst a financial crisis. This inturn gave somewhat of a relief to a beaten up market and gave employment opportunities unseen anywhere else in the country. So, being a Las Vegas resident, please save all of your negativity and snobbery. This City is a great staple of OUR country and we should ALL want it to succeed.

J
jrein
02.27.10 at 05:11

Perhaps the question could have been shortened to "What's the point of anything outside of New York?" without losing your meaning? While I acknowledge all the things that you say are wrong with CityCenter, (and it's PR team) I think your bias is showing.
Joe VanDerBos
02.28.10 at 06:49

Actually I don't believe that city center was supposed to be an entertainlment complex. I think that MGM actually felt that it was going to be a "city," with housing and a shopping mall, restaurants, and a casino to support all of the folks in the housing. Trouble is, the income from the housing didn't happen- and until that housing issue can be overcome it will be difficult to maintain the income necessary to keep that complex going- as you need to keep enough bodies in there to keep the cash flow going. Murren said it was something like 2.5M a day. That isn't a lot overall- but the maintenance of those buildings as time goes by will be a big drain on that corporation. The restaurants are great, however- if you can afford them. The shopping center has the best of the best- if you can afford them. I don't think the finished product was meant for the average joe or the New York steeped-in-cynicism/reality with an education type. Put the blinders on and enjoy.
HF
02.28.10 at 03:02

i was truly impressed with the photographs. i am an avid design trends follower who follows your blog for whatever you publish. it is always an informative or interesting post. i am into the printing business (http://www.psprint.com/stickers-labels) and this was a good read on architectural designs!
Ashely Adams : Sticker Printing
03.01.10 at 02:07

Re: no bookstores. There is an outpost of the NYC book store Bauman Rare Books in the new-ish mall in the Palazzo (Venetian). (Not a Borders, but still a bookstore at least.) There are also decent art galleries in the Bellagio and the Venetian.

IMO what's missing from the Strip is a free public park (benches in an outdoor mall do not count), but the odds of that happening seem highly unlikely (sort of like the odds of winning at the tables).
Josh in LA
03.01.10 at 12:17

No one goes to Las Vegas for a nice read.
Las Vegas hasn't been all sleazy for about 20 years.
Mari Gomez
03.01.10 at 04:02

Libeskind does crystals again? I was appalled, a few years back, when I saw his clumsy, brutal and utterly grotesque addition to Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). This piece of "starchitecture" shit had been dubbed "The Crystal." It just looked like an incredibly arrogant feat of architectural hubris, totally out of place in its setting, and rather poorly built to boot. So, he's still at the same thing, is he? Well, at least Vegas is a more appropriate setting for his crap.

The point is that if you do a crystal for the ROM, then do it again for a Vegas mall, you are not creating work that's right for a particular place or purpose, you are not creating work that is appropriate for a particular client's needs. You are simply making one size fits all rubber stamps which explore your own interests and satisfy your own massive ego.
Rob Henning
03.01.10 at 08:26

I am actually offended by your whining. It was awful. How your wife can be married to you makes no sense to me. You see the wrong in everything and the beauty in nothing. A constant complainer to get attention. Your article was crap, and your minute by minute experiences made me want to throw up. This was an amazing achievement in architecture and it was finished in record time. It is BEAUTIFUL and if you cannot appreciate Vegas for what it is then you will never understand the concept of what City Center was for. I am sure you are the type that is happy with a greasy slice of pizza with your hand down your pants complaining about how everyone else's accomplishments are better than your own...but do us all a favor and don't write another article again. A complete failure and nightmare.
Kassie
03.02.10 at 08:40

You are too smart for Vegas!
John
03.02.10 at 12:37

There is no "McCarron" airport in Las Vegas, it's "McCarran".
Daniel L
03.02.10 at 12:40

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kudaphoto/4139838143/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kudaphoto/4142600702/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kudaphoto/4144780480/
Lessie
03.02.10 at 12:50

Libeskind should be banned from practicing architecture on the planet Earth, except Berlin... maybe.
Sarah
03.02.10 at 12:54

Thanks for the interesting commentary. The complex was still unfinished when I was in Vegas last fall, and I look forward to seeing it. Next time you're in Vegas, take a look at the Frank Gehry buildings (also under construction when I was there) near the Clark County administration offices close to downtown. It's some kind medical center for brain and memory research, and the buildings look like they are melting. Very nice. Here's a photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/magicstudio/4012328660/
magic studio
03.03.10 at 12:37

Interesting first person review of City Center. Many of Mark, the author's observations are probably right on. However, if he thinks the Bellagio's dramatically beautiful fountain with or without the music of Elton John is commonplace, then he's just another pompous ass in the world of opinions. b-t-w, Happy Birthday today Sir Elton!
CJ Stone
03.25.10 at 06:39

Arias

High tech rooms are a joke

Just make everything far far harder to occupy, lights, tv curtains

High tech wasted, and wireless internet costs $15 per 24 hour period. Shame.

Shopping sterile, buildings sterile and totally lacking in imagination

I refer to city center as the new “dead zone” on the vegas strip

No people, no personality, no character. Sterile environment found in any major downtown city. Why go to vegas to see that?
lars
04.01.10 at 03:19

Anyone from New York should have more finesse when ranting. Learn to act like a guest and have some class, not like a spoiled diva. If you didn't like it the first day, why did you torture yourself? You should have gone home. I understand criticism, but you are outright rude and ill mannered. If you don't have anything nice to say, keep quiet or at least say it in a decent, New York cultured way.
I'm a native of New York, born and raised there and like I said, we have class, maybe you should research that subject. You're not doing anyone any favors. You were a guest here. There is a difference between honesty and tantrums. You need to research the difference.
Eddie
04.02.10 at 04:09

Good article. Gives a perspective on the new urban product Las Vegas itself is betting on. And at $8.5 billion they are gambling, not gaming. An aesthetic vapor covers the whole project where, specially in Crystals, everything is designed except visitors that look slightly out of place. Could be "squalid desperation" the fuel that keeps the engine running in this city?
Alvaro
05.12.10 at 12:03

I visited Vegas and the City Center in January and I must say this article does hit on some points correctly. While the design seems to be out of place, it is certainly something to behold. I found it to be overly modern, overly built, overly priced, under populated, but unique none the less. I can't see it surviving with it's current business model and expect it will fall victim to change in the future.

As for the articles style, I enjoyed the narrative nature and the daily log, but like many others, am not enamored with all the New York wining. I don't go to Las Vegas to visit New York City, or Paris, or Rome ...... I go to visit Las Vegas's flamboyant, tinseled representation of those places. And they do that quite well. Maybe it's how he writes all his reviews. In a way, his review reflects his background.
jpiper
07.01.10 at 11:09

This was really a great article that I have enjoyed. I have been a fan of Las Vegas for awhile now and I can't wait to see what's next. Thanks.
Andrea Hicks
01.22.11 at 10:38



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Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. A contributing editor to Architectural Review, he is currently at work on his third book, a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. Follow: @marklamster.
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