News recently broke that the $2.4 billion Revel Casino in Atlantic city would be closing just two-and-a-half years after it opened. It's been a rough week for the casino and a new report from the Press of Atlantic City manages to make things even worse. According to the publication, earlier this month, when armored cars were removing cash from the casino, a bag containing $21,000 in currency was left on top of one of the vehicles. When the car drove off, the bag (obviously) fell off, and nobody has seen it since. Crunching the numbers, that puts Revel back approximately $2,400,021,000—which equals a ton of money.
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Two years ago, AN visited the newly-opened Revel Casino in Atlantic City. At the time, the glassy $2.4 billion complex, designed by Arquitectonica and BLT Architects, was expected to be a transformative property for the iconic boardwalk that offered gambling, convention space, and entertainment. "It's more of an urban development plan than a typical casino plan," Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis told AN. "I am really hoping that we are successful." In mid-August, we learned that they were not. In its short two-and-a-half year lifespan, the casino never turned a profit. The casino's parent company recently announced that they weren't able to find a buyer for the bankrupt complex and that Revel's last day would be September 10th. That date has already been moved up—the hotel will now close on September 1st, Labor Day. The casino will close the day after, which will put over 3,000 people out of work. Revel's huge cost, and its very short lifespan, has unsurprisingly received lots of attention, but its closing is just the latest sign of trouble in Atlantic City—the Showboat will close on August 31st, Trump Plaza calls it quits on September 16th, and the Atlantic Club shuttered in January. These closings reflect Atlantic City's challenge to stay relevant amongst more competition. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently noted that Atlantic City, which had been the nation's second-largest gambling market ranking just behind Nevada, has now fallen behind Pennsylvania. But in terms of Revel, specifically, its design may have been its fatal flaw. “The enormous cost of the property, its vast size and its peculiar configuration—patrons had to ride a steep escalator from the lobby to get to the casino, the 57-story hotel and the restaurants—made it difficult to turn a profit,” reported the New York Times. These sentiments were echoed by industry experts who spoke to the Inquirer in June. They mentioned the "long distance between the casino floor and the hotel's front desk, a casino floor that fails to engage gamblers, and vast empty spaces that make Revel expensive to heat and cool." And Alan R. Woinski, chief executive of Gaming USA Corp, pulled no punches when describing his thoughts on the property. "The best thing that could have happened to that property is Hurricane Sandy, instead of nailing Seaside Heights, would have nailed that property. That thing should have wound up in the ocean instead of the roller coaster," he told the publication. "It's sad, but unfortunately that was the only way, to completely knock the thing down and redo it."
The new Revel casino in Atlantic City may prove to be an influential model, merging entertainment with gambling and convention center facilities. Bellied up against the Atlantic City boardwalk, Revel's designers—Arquitectonica with BLT Architects—paid special attention to how the facility interacts with its surroundings. Revel features acres of interior spaces designed by more than 65 design firms showcasing a dizzying array of finishes, from polished chrome columns to a 100-foot gold-flecked mobile. AN recently visited the oceanside casino and spoke with Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis about what makes the building different from other casinos and why Atlantic City needs the change.
UNNATURAL SPACES: PHOTOGRAPHY OF RICHARD BARNES The Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury 7500 N Glenoaks Blvd. Burbank, CA Through October 22 In Unnatural Spaces, co-curators Emily Bills and Eve Schillo present the featured work of photographer Richard Barnes at the Julius Shulman Institute at the Woodbury University School of Architecture. Showcasing highlighted works from his Unabomber (1999) and Animal Logic (2009) series, the exhibit suggests that architecture is both a willing participant in, and also an unknowing target of, presentation. The show encompasses commissioned works of Barnes ranging globally from Los Angeles to Kazakhstan, and new work such as “Revel Casino Construction,” from Atlantic City (above). Barnes is a Rome Prize recipient for photography and was featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial for his work documenting the cabin of Ted Kaczyinski. The venue, the Julius Shulman Institute, was established as a cultural destination dedicated to the promotion of photography and understanding the built environment.