Posts tagged with "Las Vegas":

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Post-Recession, Las Vegas' Builders are "Cautiously Aggressive"

“It’s a fun time in Vegas right now, with the economy up,” said Beth Campbell, principal and managing director of Gensler’s Las Vegas office. Downtown is being reborn, thanks in no small part to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s multi-million dollar investment. The Strip, too, is booming—see the High Roller observation wheel, which opened on March 31. At the same time, the spendthrift breeziness of the pre-recession years is gone. “Everyone is coming back to life, but with a refined focus and purpose,” said Campbell. “I would say the clients and developers are cautiously aggressive...they still want to grow, still want to reach for the sky...But they’re really focused on how they’re applying [their money] to make these projects happen.” Campbell described the change as a “big shift to experiential design.” In most cases, property owners elect to pour most of their money into key client areas, keeping behind-the-scenes spaces simple. “It’s the peanut butter concept,” said Campbell. “You can spread it thin across the whole piece [of bread] or just put it all in one corner.” As an example, Campbell cited Gensler’s renovation of an existing office campus for budget airline Allegiant Air’s new headquarters. Construction on the five-building, 120,000 square-foot complex began last month. “It’s been a very measured approach to this new facility for them, keeping in line with their corporate values and their low-cost approach,” said Campbell. “But they put their people first, and they’re doing the same thing in their office space.” To accommodate multiple work modes, Gensler created a variety of spaces, including open office space, individual work stations, and collaboration zones. Flexibility was the keynote. “Although we’re doing drywall partitions, we’re doing it in such a manner that if they want to move these boxes they can,” said Campbell. Gensler also recently renovated The AXIS Theater inside Planet Hollywood, home to Britney Spears’s “A Piece of Me” show. The clients “had one mission in mind and that was to create a great experience for the people who are coming,” said Campbell. As with Allegiant Air, the theater’s owners “were very measured, they were very methodical about how they wanted to apply their money.” The theater’s lobby is outfitted in shades of grey and black, the sharp lines of the asymmetrical portal balanced by a massive LED sculpture spiraling from the ceiling. In keeping with the nightclub theme, the auditorium’s walls are also black, as is its domed ceiling. Rows of purple seats hug a half-ring of VIP tables and, against the stage, two standing areas. Campbell sees last month’s RFP for a Downtown Master Plan as further evidence of the new zeitgeist, which couples renewed optimism with careful planning. “It’s a mechanism for the city to evaluate what’s in place, what do we really have,” she said. “It’s going to take a look at, are they spending their money in the right places?” Timed to coincide with the completion of a new form-based code for downtown, the master plan will define an overall strategy for the city’s revitalization. “It’s really interesting to watch,” said Campbell. “It’s measured. It’s not just a shotgun approach.”
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Foster's Unopened Vegas Tower Being Dismantled After Lengthy Court Battle

In Las Vegas, you win some and you lose some. Lining up as what must be one of the biggest busts in Sin City history, the exceptionally-botched, Foster + Partners–designed Harmon Hotel, now has a date with the wrecking ball. The stubby 27-story tower—it was originally supposed to measure 49 stories but construction problems  stunted its growth—never opened and no one ever checked in at what would surely have been a posh front desk. As AN reported in 2011, the Harmon Hotel was in the midst of a bitter lawsuit to allow demolition to proceed as some were claiming the structural deficiencies were enough to make even the shortened tower structurally unsound and at risk of collapse:
After discovering deficient steel reinforcing in early 2009, MGM left the foreshortened tower an unfinished shell but is now moving to implode the structure citing safety concerns. Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs at MGM, said the company had submitted an engineering recommendation and demolition action plan to Clark County, Nevada detailing the structural shortcomings of the Harmon. “The city asked us to respond to the engineer’s report to determine the best way forward,” said Feldman. “We decided the best move is to take the building down.”
The Harmon Hotel is part of MGM's $9 billion mega-development, CityCenter, which features buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Vinoly, Helmut Jahn, and others. The Harmon Hotel sits adjacent to Libeskind's ultra-luxury shopping center, the Crystals, which AN profiles in a past retail feature. Now, MGM has resolved that lawsuit and on April 22 received court approval to proceed with demolition of the tower. According to a report in Architectural Record, there won't be a dramatic, Las Vegas–style implosion. Instead, the  hotel will be taken apart, piece by piece, over the next year.
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Dispatch from Vegas' Design and Construction Week

What happens in Vegas, stays in... winds up on the AN blog. Yes, we're in Sin City this week attending the first-ever Design and Construction Week, which includes both the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and the International Builders' Show (IBS). Two mega-conventions in one provided us with lots to see, from high-performance materials to innovative technologies. We've rounded up some of the many highlights here. If you need proof that kitchens, baths, and building products can be sexy, keep reading. Crystalline, by Clarke Architectural Some of our favorite designs in the show came from Clarke architectural, a Texas company that hires renowned architects and designers to design its sculptural baths. All products are constructed in the U.S. The Crystalline bath (above) was designed by New York firm Hariri & Hariri. SaphirKeramik by Laufen Laufen unveiled its new SaphirKeramik sinks at the show. This new material, made in part with sapphire, is far thinner than the industry standard, and can be shaped in entirely new ways. Motivo by Caesarstone Caesarstone's Motivo is the first quartz surface incorporating sculpted pattern designs. The slabs can be used for homes and commercial interiors for paneling, panels, and even furniture. NightLight by Kohler Why didn't someone think of this sooner? Kohler's Nightlight uses two LED light displays to illuminate its toilets in a soft glow. This is especially good if you don't like to turn on the bathroom light in the middle of the night. NativeStone by Native Trails Native Trails' NativeStone collection uses a sustainable blend of concrete, rope, and other materials, which are  lightweight, scratch and crack resistant, and quite unique. Classtone by Neolith Neolith's new Classtone collection combines silicon, quartz, and other natural materials heated and compacted to create a surface with almost no porosity, which is scratch and stain resistant and easy to clean. The marble patterns are scanned from real marble. Can be used for floors, walls, counters, tables, and facades. Sotria Bath Collection by Brizo Inspired by Midcentury Modernism, Briza's new Sotria line features sharp angles and sexy channels. Available this spring, the collection would look perfect in the lair of a James Bond villain. Dekton by Cosentino This new surface is created through "ultra-compaction," creating sizes and thinness that was previously impossible. The highly diverse material is also resistant to abrasion, stains, and pretty much anything else. Hafele Lifts by Häfele Depend on Häfele to make things ultra-easy to use. Their Verso lift system glides over the top of a cabinet and stays in position when released. Pro Grand Steam by Thermador Americans are finally waking up to healthier steam cooking, and it showed at this year's show. Thermador's handsome Pro Grand Steam range features steam and just about every other type of cooking option: burners, griddle, grill, convection, etc. Temp20 By Delta Delta's new Temp2O is a built-in digital temperature display featuring LED color indicators to easily convey water temperature. Eastern Promise by Ann Sacks The company collaborated with designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard to create this Middle Eastern–inspired tile collection. Bullard also designed the Hermitage and Mousharabia collections.
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Ray LaHood Touts High-Speed Rail at UIC Urban Forum

  Cities matter. In the Midwest recent headlines have read like an urban planning syllabus: post-industrial rebirth attracts a new generation of urbanites downtown, the roll-out of high-speed rail begins to pick up pace, and while innovative solutions to the region’s well-documented problems abound, a lingering fiscal crisis and unfunded pension liabilities threaten to squash even the most attainable aspirations. Those topics and more made the agenda at University of Illinois Chicago’s annual Urban Forum held Thursday, whose lineup included the mayors of Columbus and Pittsburgh, as well as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil” was the topic at hand. Sporting reindeer antlers, a protestor was removed from the conference for trying to confront UIC board of trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy over an ongoing labor dispute at the University. His opening salvo may have summed up the emotional state of the intertwined crises of labor and urban redevelopment better than the slew of statistics his target subsequently laid out, but the numbers are indeed telling: Illinois faces the nation’s largest unfunded pension liability; Chicago and Cook County grapple with decaying infrastructure and persistent impoverishment—some 500,000 people in the suburbs live in poverty, outnumbering those in the city. Governor Quinn and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle skipped out on their scheduled appearances to deal with ongoing pension negotiations, but their deputy staffers filled in for the hand-wringing. It would cost so much just to “stop the pain,” said Deputy Mayor Steven Koch, and pay off debt interest at all three levels of government that doing so would bankrupt them instantly. At least they are not alone. “We have a particularly bad form of this disease,” Koch said, “but the disease is widespread.” Somewhat less grim was the following panel, which asked the top brass of Columbus, Las Vegas, and Pittsburgh to share their municipal travails. Facing financial crisis in 2001 and then again in 2008, Columbus “had to make a decision about what kind of city we wanted to be,” according to Mayor Michael Coleman. Service cuts were unavoidable, he said, but cutting too much could plunge the city into a spiral from which it would take decades to recover. Faced with cutting firemen and police, Coleman said he approached the business community with plans for a half-percent tax hike. They and the public supported it, he said, in lieu of further cuts. In Pittsburgh, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl recounted the steps he took to attract $5 billion in new downtown investment to the former steel city, which “hit the wall” around 1983. The ultra-green PNC Tower and a growing cadre of Google jobs were his celebrated examples, but he said investing in bike paths and other transportation infrastructure was critical to the revival of the city’s Bakery Square neighborhood. Secretary LaHood closed the day with a rallying cry for high-speed rail that minced no words. “High-speed rail is coming to America,” he said. “There’s no stopping it. We are not going back.” Though the secretary deflected credit for the policy change onto the President, he said his legacy would be safety, pointing to distracted driving restrictions now on the books in 39 states. “Everyone knows what’s needed in the United States,” LaHood said. “The issue is how do we pay for it?” Federal grant programs for multimodal transportation projects have expanded under the Recovery act, but LaHood said the key to sustaining growth was leveraging private money, in part through strategic loan programs. As for governors refusing to spend federal money on rail projects in their states, the secretary said, “Elections matter.”
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Vegas Neon Museum Opens Dramatic New Home

Las Vegas' most interesting cultural attraction is not on The Strip. It's the Neon Museum, which finally opened its new visitors center last weekend inside the lobby of the former La Concha Motel, a Googie masterpiece designed by Paul Williams. The Downtown Vegas museum, which opened in 1996, includes a boneyard containing over 150 neon signs from hotels, motels, roadside attractions, and businesses, dating back to the 1930s. Some of our favorites include the Atomic Age Stardust Hotel sign and a freestanding sign of a man known as the "Mullet Man." The museum has also installed some of its signs along Las Vegas Boulevard and on Fremont Street. More pix from the boneyard below. 
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Sky-High Amusement Parks, Both Imagined and Real

Have you ever gazed upon the New York skyline and thought to yourself, there's an amusement park missing from this picture. Have you ever dreamed of twirling around the top of New York’s fourth-tallest building while strapped into flimsy carnival swings? While it's certainly not for the faint of heart, these fantasies have been imagined, and now they've been rendered into a beautiful new video. In this quite impressive promotional video for Luna Park in Coney Island, Argentinean director and post-production wizard Fernando Livschitz has transformed Manhattan into a fantastical amusement park. Swings spin atop the Chrysler Building’s iconic art-deco spire, tilt-a-whirls whizz through Times Square and across the Brooklyn Bridge, and a roller coaster zooms around the Empire State Building. Utilizing tilt-shift photography, time lapse, and some wild after effects, Livshitz is a master of turning cities into funfairs. But if you're inclined to try out a sky-high amusement park in real life, you'll have to head over to Las Vegas, where a miniature funfair-in-the-sky sits atop the 1,149-foot-tall Stratosphere Tower, including the world's tallest amusement ride, a vertical descent called the Big Shot. Unfortunately, a roller coaster twisting around the top of the tower has since been removed, but we've included a video of the experience below for old times' sake.
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Videos> Harmon's Headaches Signal Thunder in the Vegas Sky

It's official. Norman Foster's unfinished and beleaguered Harmon Building at Las Vegas' CityCenter is among the walking dead. Its owner MGM has announced its intention to implode the building, whose construction was plagued by incorrectly-installed rebar. These severe structural flaws led to a decision in 2009 to scrap the top half of the building, and it's been sitting unoccupied ever since. But what better way to send off what must be among the biggest buildings never occupied than a collection of the most spectacular implosions Las Vegas can muster? There are fireworks, spotlights, music, and lots of gawking onlookers. This stuff is fun, trust us. Before we get to the explosions, let's take a quick walk down memory lane with this video of CityCenter's original grand plan, including the full-scale Harmon. Now on to the implosions! Implosion of the Stardust Implosion of the Sands Implosion of the Aladdin Hotel Implosion of the Landmark Implosion of the Castaways Implosion of the Frontier And the grand finale Still can't get enough? We highly recommend checking out this article and this one too  about some of the best-ever Vegas implosions.
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Quick Clicks> Countenance Cartography, In Situ Study, Old Becomes New, and Venice Vexed

Mapping Visage. Canadian artist Ingrid Dabringer has attracted attention for her unique map paintings, finding countenances in irregular land masses. The artist explained that she draws inspiration from large-scale topography and lines on detailed maps. Dabringer believes that maps hold meaning and by adding her own touches, she seeks a more personal interpretation within a traditional tool. More at Core77. In Situ Study. Recently on Building Design, third-year architecture student Jonathan Brown posed the following question, “Do architecture students today focus too heavily on design theory and practice and consequently, neglect construction skills that cannot be taught in a classroom?” Not alone in his query, the latest RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) “Part of the Picture” campaign permits graduates to credit three months of on-site experience toward their education. Now and then. Technology and the internet have transformed the way we preserve and promote history, particularly our photographs. Trendcentral highlighted three exciting websites: Historypin, where users can upload historic photos and search geo-tagged photos by time, period, and address; Dear Photograph posts reader-submitted photographs of historic photos in context; and the Flickr group, Looking into the Past, includes a diverse range of historic-current photo collages. Troubled Bridge over Water. Conservationists and architects have rejected the Venetian superintendent’s call to replace the historic Ponte del Accademia with a glass and steel substitute, reported Building Design. Although architects Schiavina of Bologna have incorporated an Istrian stone version of the iconic bridge’s gentle arch in their design, prominent art critic Francesco Bonami has dubbed the plans a “bad crash.” Plans remain on hold while the city seeks funding for the €6 million design.
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Quick Clicks> Bike, Walk, Play, but Watch for the River

Bikes First. To protect its cycling tradition and its bikers’ safety, Copenhagen continues to enhance its metropolitan bicycle system.  StreetsBlog reports that 37 percent of the city's urban population bikes to and from work and school on the city’s extensive network of bicycle-only lanes, park paths, and renovated railway tracks. The public transportation system also supports bicycle-travel, while the city has slowly reduced the number of car lanes on streets and auto-routes. Pedestrians, Too. Chicago moves forward this week on its highly anticipated Pedestrian Plan – an attempt to remedy high levels of hit-and-run fatalities and create a safer walking environment. After the tragic death of Martha Gonzalez at the South Halsted Street intersection, the municipal government realized that further safety measures must be taken.  According to the Tribune, the city will host eight public meetings throughout the summer to gather constituent input, the foundation of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s action plan. Construction Sand-Box. While excavating the foundation of his new home in Colorado, Ed Mumm was inspired to develop the Dig This project–a construction equipment playground for adolescents and adults. PSFK reveals that Munn’s second Dig This location recently launched in Las Vegas, where guests can operate a Caterpillar bulldozer or excavator after attending a 30-minute safety briefing. River Craft. BldgBlog brings news that the Dutch art group Observatorium finished Waiting for the River, a 125-foot-long habitable bridge, in 2010. The project is installed on the Emscher River wetlands, a sewer canal contained by dikes that will flood completely within 10 years. Observatorium invites people to wait for the river in the reclaimed-timber cabins; furnished with beds and plumbing.
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Quick Clicks> Dampers, Doubletake, Taxes, Kaboom!

Earthshaking Costs.  The cost of an earthquake goes well beyond the financial, as the world witnessed with the disaster in Japan, but preventative measures do cost;  Architizer cites a report by California Watch that warns of cost-cutting and corruption in the cash strapped state, boiling down the numbers and creating clear cut infographics to illustrate the need and function of base isolation and mass dampers. Bring Me Your Tired One Arm Bandits. With all due respect to our Nevada brethren, New Yorkers are somewhat chagrined to learn that the Post Office will not fix their goof of putting an image of the Las Vegas rendition of Lady Liberty on a new stamp rather than an image of the original in the New York Harbor. Officials say the teenage version will stay, prompting Ed Koch to sound off to The Times "...the post office is doing a stupid thing.” Riverfront Fortress. With tax day looming, don't try to go postal with the IRS in Philly. You won't stand a chance. The agency has taken over the main branch of the old Post Office overlooking the Schuylkill River. The WPA-era grand limestone edifice took on $252 million makeover, and Philadelphia Inquirer critic Inga Saffron is not impressed. Saffron says the building, heralded as the new gateway to University City, keeps the gates closed by overdoing security measures (via ArchNews). Kaboom! NBC affiliate in the Bay Area has footage of the demolition of the last remaining WWII-era military hospital in California (via Curbed).
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Beckley Las Vegas Display Tree: Flatcut

Fabrikator Brought to you by:

Unraveling strands of steel pipe create a clothing display and focal point for the tony boutique.

Flatcut, a design and fabrication firm with a studio in Brooklyn and a 100,000-square-foot facility in Passaic, New Jersey, has more than 100 machines to its name. Though it has the capabilities to mass-produce 20,000 custom furniture pieces and 50,000-square-foot facades, the firm also creates small, site-specific installations for museums and retail stores. Most recently the Beckley Boutique, a celebrity hot spot and shopping destination on Melrose Avenue, hired Flatcut to design an eye-catching design feature at its new Las Vegas outpost in the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino. With its Arquitectonica-designed façade, the Cosmopolitan has interiors by Rockwell Group, Jeffrey Beers, and Adam Tihany; the hotel’s retail stores wanted to stand out, too. Beckley envisioned a functional sculpture at the store’s entrance to showcase its eclectic mix of emerging and established fashion designers. Flatcut had already worked on the store’s Melrose flagship, so the firm was a natural choice to design a new feature. Rather than produce a literal translation of a retail “tree” (like the one that stands in the Melrose store window), Flatcut abstracted the design into bunches of unraveling strands to create a dynamic shape that would attract hotel and casino patrons while also setting off the boutique’s wares displayed prominently in the storefront. The design was developed parametrically to establish an iterative process capable of creating multiple variations in a short period of time. The firm’s custom software is capable of reading a series of radii and lengths taken directly from the 3-D model. This results in a highly accurate translation process, with little opportunity for human error. The tree’s strands are made of one-inch outside diameter light-gauge steel tubing pipe bent by a three-axis CNC pipe bender. The sculpture includes a total of 36 custom strands designed from three different curves and cut at 12 different lengths, creating a swirling, centrifugal design. Notches at the top of each branch can hold hangers or accessories. Though the installation stands only 10 feet tall with a diameter of five feet, it holds its own among the hipster clothing and stands out in newly design-centric Las Vegas.
  • Fabricator Flatcut
  • Designer Flatcut
  • Location Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Completion Date December 2010
  • Material 1-inch light gauge steel pipe
  • Process 3-axis CNC pipe bending
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Quick Clicks> Shirtwaist, SoHo, School, Simpsons

Triangle Fire Open Archive. This March marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a 1911 catastrophe that killed 146 people, many of them poor immigrant women. That fire became a rallying cry for the labor movement in America and an impetus for the creation of the fire codes of today.  The Triangle Fire Open Archive commemorates the event in a very modern way, with user-generated contributions that allow the larger community to tell the story of the fire and critically reflect on its relevance today. (And today, March 16, the Brooklyn Historical Society give visitors a rare chance to view the archive in person from 3pm to 7pm.) Slumming it in SoHo. Today's SoHo may be home to glitzy galleries, high-end retail, and the east coast branch of the infamous Karadshian clan, but it wasn't always so swanky. In fact, as Ephemeral New York tells us, it was sort of smelly, especially along a blighted stretch of West Broadway that was better known as "Rotten Row." History of Urban Design 101. Urban Omnibus dives into the history of urban design as an academic discipline and talks with Parsons prof Victoria Marshall about how schools are shaping urban designers of the future. Chez Simpsons. Las Vegas is a study in architectural illusions, with its own versions of the NYC skyline, the Eiffel Tower and Venice's Grand Canal. But nearby Henderson, NV has its own architecture fantasy bona fides: Curbed tells us that Henderson was once home to the house that the animated Simpsons family called home.