Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Visual Inspiration: Liebskind's Mall--um, I mean "Crystal"

After we checked out of the Venetian but before heading to Baxtersmum's Casa, we had to visit City Center, the new retail, resort, and housing complex in the middle of the Vegas strip. It was recommended to us that we park at the Bellagio and use their tram to get to City Center--trying to park at City Center is evidently a nightmare. Here's the funny thing, though; when you park at the Bellagio's parking deck, you can see the tram from your parking space, but you have to walk clear through the casino to get to it. You can see it, I mean if you had wings you could fly to it from the parking deck, but nay, prithee, thou must walk through the valley of one-armed bandits before thou seest the tram. (That's not an accident in planning, btw: just as all roads led to Rome, all roads now lead to a casino in a casino/resort in Vegas. Spendeth thy munniez, they say.)

So this is the tram station. Nice and late 20th/early 21st-century detailing with the silver metal supports and the tensile fabric roof. That's going to make this area pretty nice in summer--knocks a few degrees off the 115-degree average summer days.

When you get off the tram at City Center/Crystal, there's a courtyard below the tram station. Mad props that the trees look like they're in decent shape, though again we'll wait to see what they look like in July. Not sure about the white humping protoplasm statue in the middle of the courtyard. In the words of Billy Mays, but wait, there's more!

Holy vertigo, Batman! This is just the lobby/walkway between the mall part of the Crystal and the escalator down from the tram. Technically, we're inside the Crystal, Liebskind's mall, but we're not to the actual spendy part of the mall yet.

Nope, still not there. Keep walking.

As my Southern grandmother would say, "Jeezus Gawd." There's not a plumb wall in the place...which is the point. It would appear that Mr. Liebskind has taken the Denver Art Museum and plopped it down here...but not without learning from his mistakes in Denver. First off, you can't see the roof from any street. Good idea: that way no one can see that it's plainly leaking or failing. Second, instead of doing a typical EPDM roof like he did at DAM, he clad the entire exterior with the same metal panels that he used for the exterior wall. Which actually makes sense: if none of the exterior surfaces on your building are perpendicular or parallel to the ground, then you really don't have a "roof"--everything's technically a wall, albeit some steep and some shallow walls. Here's hoping they don't get leaks. Actually Vegas doesn't get that much snow, so there probably won't be a crapton of leak opportunities, will there?

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the building.

The interior is so open that these photos don't do them justice. It's wider, much wider than a typical mall, so when I think about how much of this building technically isn't rentable, it blows me away. Only about half the tenants (i.e. shops and restaurants) are in, though I hear that they're completely booked. Good to know that they're busy. I suppose rentable s.f. quantity is made up for in quality: they charge more for rent because you're in a really coolio awesome building that everyone will want to go into and walk around and maybe even buy something.

Even the mannequins are dizzy. "Which way is up? Oh glory be! I'm so disoriented I can barely pay $5,000 for this dress I'm wearing!"

Outside is a similar story, except it's titanium instead of white drywall. And glazing--good Lawd at the glazing. How hot is that gonna be in summer?

We took this shot from the courtyard between the Crystal and the Mandarin (another hotel/residence thingy in City Center). Here's the thing--you can bag on Liebskind all you want (and believe me, I do), but his buildings are really cool to be in and look at.

But what does he think of having ads all over his masterpiece?

By this time, we'd had enough starchitecture tomfoolery, so it was off to the Casa del Baxter y Kittehs Tambien, just west of town. There, we finally met The Baxter, teh puppeh of WIN and awsum. He promptly peed on Guy upon meeting us. Funny, I had the same reaction when I met Guy.

Thomas O'Malley also found Guy much to his liking and immediately came up for snuggies, face rubs, purring, and knitting.

Tinkerbell is as much of a chorb as Malley is a lap-ho. I wanted to nom. her. belleh. so badly. However, I settled for petting her and letting her rub around my feet. After we returned from dinner and a comedy show, Guy and I slept comfortably in Baxtersmum's guest room with two kittehs on us the whole night. This was actually comforting for me; I'm so used to having Maddy on me that I needed someone to meow and knitknitknit and bother me occasionally just so I could sleep decently. (I know that doesn't make sense, but if you live with really social cats, you know what I mean.)

When we left Vegas on Monday, it was in the high 50s there...and 23 degrees in Denver. Eeek. All good things must come to an end, I suppose...


BaxtersMum said...

you are always welcome at the Casa de Los Gatos Y Baxter Dawg.

Interesting tidbit (you talk about the heat in the summer). The City Center complex - the condos and the two hotels, casino and mall, were estimated to have a 100 MW load on our grid. One Hundred MWs for a city block. That more than many high energy industrial facilities (like oh, a large paper mill).

bluedogok said...

Most "StarArchitects" never "learn" because they have nothing to do with the actual CA phase of a project...that's what us "technical" people are for, to make it work.

ArchiKat said...

Hi pixie, I'm a grad student in Cleveland that found your blog along the way looking for something else on google. This past semester I've been studying casinos as the city is planning one in the near future. Had a casino architect from Vegas in a few weeks ago and his sentiments about city center were similar..he gave us some numbers and for Vegas they were outrageous, I'm shocked you found the way out as that seemed to be the tricky part according to his take. Thanks for the pictures and the "architect's perspective" of Vegas in general, it is more than welcomed by this reader.
Ps I totally get the "need a cat at bedtime thing" it's hard to sleep without my critter.