HD Talks

City of Collaboration

Posted by on December 22, 2009 in Projects

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the opening of Aria, the casino-hotel component and the final hotel of the $8.5 billion LEED-certified CityCenter development in Las Vegas. (Harmon Residences and Veer Towers are still under construction.) It was my first time seeing the city-within-a-city. I knew a lot about it after doing a story on MGM Mirage Group president Bill Smith two years ago and keeping up to date on it since. But to be honest I didn’t know quite what to expect—and I have to say I was impressed.


Most everyone knows that it is a great collaboration or architects–Gensler, Libeskind, Foster, Pelli, Viñoly, to name a few. Impressive, definitely, especially the camaraderie that was shown at the opening event. But what I found even more impressive was the number of designers that worked on the interior spaces. They seem to flow, even though each one is unique, while at every turn there was another detail, something different in design that I hadn’t quite seen before. (Maybe that is why it has taken me so long to figure out what to blog about.) And what really made the design enthusiast side of me excited is that MGM Mirage’s design team (especially Sven Van Assche) brought in a mix of designers—the old guard and the new, some who are even making their Vegas debut. For instance, BBGM handled the guestroom design of condo-hotel Vdara and the suites at Aria, David Rockwell created an interior park in the Libeskind’s modern Crystals retail and restaurant building, and Adam D. Tihany designed the impressive Mandarin Oriental and two restaurants in Aria, one for Sirio Maccioni and one for the Light Group. Speaking of the Light Group, the young restaurant and nightclub operators chose Franklin Studios (a recent HD Wave of the Future honoree) for gaming bar Deuce, while three-person firm SL Design led by Chris Sheffield created a natural environment for Michael Mina’s fish house, American Fish. And that’s just to mention a few of the designers (not to mention chefs and operators).


I think people will come to see the largest privately funded construction project in the U.S., but I think they will come back to try out all of the variously designed spaces housed within.

Look for a more in-depth look at the designers involved in an upcoming issue of HD and a few sneak peeks of a few of the spaces on our website.

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