Vegas' New Look

by Karrie Jacobs

Unlike almost everything else in Las Vegas (with the exception of Steve Wynn’s most recent towers), the buildings of CityCenter are emphatically three-dimensional. They don’t go blank on the back side and, amazingly, they even look good from above. CityCenter is a complex puzzle of interlocking pieces, a whole menu of shapes, sizes, and materials—much like a real city—connected by a sinuous series of walkways and roads and bisected by a new tramline. And unlike major new developments in Dubai or Shanghai, the pedestrian experience here has been well thought through by professionals like the urban planners at Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, known for their seminal work on New York’s Battery Park City, and the sophisticated landscape designers at Field Operations, lately famous for their work on New York’s High Line park. Van Assche believes the development’s meandering pathways, routinely punctuated by sculptures such as Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Typewriter Eraser, Scale X or Nancy Rubins’s startling assemblage of canoes and rowboats, Big Edge, tend to humanize the architecture. “We didn’t want to create the monumentality that modern architecture is known for,” Van Assche says. Indeed, designer David Rockwell, who collaborated with Libeskind on Crystals—they filled the mall with unique “landmarks,” such as a three-story abstract structure called the Treehouse—regards the meandering pathways as the exact thing that distinguishes CityCenter from the rest of Las Vegas. The plan offers an unusual degree of freedom in a town known for its “tightly controlled sight lines and flow of people,” he says.

Travel and Leisure, February 2010