Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Gambling on Serious Architecture in Vegas
Could Vegas be getting serious about architecture?
Well, maybe yes, says the architecture critic for one highly esteemed, well-regarded, dare we say highbrow, publication: The New Yorker.
Paul Goldberger, the critic, observes that the new, gargantuan CItyCenter development marks a departure from past practice in Vegas, where imitation—not invention or imagination—have ruled since Caesar’s Palace rose to prominence in the 1960s.
Goldberger none-too-kindly relates how the rule of Caesar was succeeded by other exhibits in the theme-park gallery, with hotels “intended to make you feel that you are in Venice, or Paris, or Egypt, or New York, or Bellagio, or on a pirate’s island, or among King Arthur and his knights.”
Problem is, Vegas’ “dazzlement,” its “over-the-top gigantism” was losing its punch, Goldberger says.
Then along came CityCenter, MGM Resorts International’s massive creation of three hotels, two condo towers, shopping mall, convention center, multitude of restaurants, monorail, and casino.
And guess what, the architecture is not imitation Classical, Gothic, Byzantine, Beaux-Arts, Romanesque, Baroque, or some other glorious style of a long time ago and a land far away.
CityCenter glitters as a showcase of the contemporary, with designs by a lineup of starchitects (Libeskind, Pelli Clarke Pelli, Norman Foster, et al), Goldberger notes.
Still, Goldberger cautions, the jury is out on “whether Las Vegas wants to be rescued from kitsch.” At the same time, he gives mixed grades to the CityCenter designs, and questions whether it succeeds as a departure from Vegas business as usual—sprawl. The complex “is laid out not for pedestrians but as a machine for moving vast numbers of cars efficiently,” he says.
To read the full indictment—excuse me, review—go to What Happens in Vegas.
CityCenter nearly sank in red ink before it could emerge as a visionary new image for the face of Vegas. But will visitors prefer cutting-edge architecture to fantasies about Rome, Venice, or the Big Apple?
It wouldn’t be Vegas if it weren’t a roll of the dice.
Comment from Ken Forsberg, (9/29/2010, 9:00 AM)
As a lifelong California resident I have seen a steady rise of warehousing and hands on work to Nevada. With it's, (so far) favorable tax and regulation structure, developments like this coupled with some high rise office development, could move Las Vegas into power house business center.