Las Vegas is a city of dreams. A city of blinking neon lights, spinning roulette wheels and whirring fruit machines. For 40 years it has been the undisputed entertainment capital of the world, but for it to remain at the pinnacle of recreation it needs to regroup and address the aspirations and expectations of its 21st century clientele.
On the legendary Strip lie four city blocks, 200 acres of prime retail estate upon which to build what will become the last word in entertainment and hospitality.
CivicArts has created a complex that will redraw not just the map of Las Vegas, but of the global entertainment industry.
Uniting the complex is the String of Pearls, a graceful arching ring road along which runs the Digital Mile, the largest light wall in the world. Scrolling along this electronic billboard the latest news, show previews, music videos and jackpot winners will inform and entertain passers by, bringing the street to life. A continental style tree-lined boulevard, the String of Pearls will be the perfect antidote to the tired, relentless, ridged city grid, promoting a circulation pattern that actively draws visitors off the sterility of the Strip’s highway and into an oasis of entertainment.
With the revenues from retail overtaking those generated by gambling for the first time in 40 years, the shopping experiences in the Epicentre are of paramount importance. The retail strategy looks to attract a glittering array of upscale, exotic and contemporary brands to Las Vegas for the first time, avoiding the duplication and dilution of the all too familiar stores that currently litter the city. Creating something unique is the key to holding the market share. Transforming the Epicentre into a genuine fashion destination will add an extra dimension to the whole experience.
Las Vegas lacks dedicated green public spaces. The Epicentre Pleasure Gardens, nestled in the horseshoe of hotels and casinos, will rapidly assume the role of city park, attracting residents and visitors alike. At their centre will stand a new star in the sparkling Las Vegas galaxy. The Prism Court will become the living room of the city; a focal point where great events can be experienced and shared. Able to accommodate over 5,000 people in 6-star comfort, it will be a sensational centrepiece capable of staging digital spectaculars, civic ceremonies, intimate performances and visiting exhibitions. The flexibility of this cathedral-like space is dramatically extended thanks to its daring pivoting roof that will open to the stars at night, like a Tiffany gift box revealing the jewels within.
At the southwest corner the pirouetting Fred & Ginger Towers reflect the play of the neighbouring Bellagio Fountains in their glazed walls, providing a blank canvas upon which to project the cinematic icons of the day. Between their tangoing torsos rises the Escalera Fantasia, the grand staircase of the city that forms a grandstand from which to watch the fountain’s splash. It also functions as a monumental gateway to the delights that lie within, whisking guests up from street level to the 30 acres of public roof gardens. An array of avant-garde garden follies will host dinning and entertainment venues, all brought alive by the digital concierge service that will revolutionise the way guests navigate around the complex.
An entourage of hotels complete the scheme. Their proximity to the heart of the complex drastically reduces the distances guests have to cover to enjoy everything the Epicentre has to offer. The complex is a carefully layered and enticing confection with ground floor casinos drawing in the punters, who may then rise on up through the building to sample the outstanding mix of retail and leisure crowned by the tranquil pleasure gardens.
This is architecture of ambition and vision that will secure Las Vegas’s place in the hall of fame for decades to come. Put simply, the Epicentre will become the international benchmark against which all leisure destinations will be measured.
© CivicArts LLP, 2011