“CityCenter is a 21st century experience and a celebration of public urban life with retail, entertainment and the feel of an urban neighborhood. Crystals transforms the conventions of shopping and dining with a landscape of sophisticated and contemporary spaces enlivening The Strip and making CityCenter an international destination.”
- Daniel Libeskind, Founder, Studio Daniel Libeskind
Architecture is a strange business. At once a subjective and ultimately ethereal art form and at the same time a purely practical, physical process; literally bricks and mortar. Considering Las Vegas as an architectural environment is an equally strange endeavor, but an interesting, challenging and at times controversial one nonetheless. The city has over the past few decades become known, for an utterly unique form of miniaturist magpie homage. Precise, condensed and to-scale recreations of some of the world’s most precious architectural locations are dotted around the city. One can travel from Paris to Venice to Luxor - taking in the Eiffel Tower, a gondola ride and the Great Sphinx of Giza - in a single night.
Whilst a discussion of the city’s multi-million dollar iconography is fascinating, it is being overtaken by events. The Las Vegas skyline is being transformed by high profile (some billion-dollar) original projects designed by some of the world’s most prestigious architects - including Frank Gehry and Cesar Pelli. Pelli’s firm has been integral to CityCenter, an $8.5billion state of the art complex of hotels, casinos and super-luxury residential condominiums. CityCenter has been designed by some of the world’s foremost architects and comprises the ARIA Resort & Casino (Cesar Pelli), the Vdara Hotel & Spa (Rafael Viñoly), the Mandarin Oriental (an exclusive non-gaming hotel and residences designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox), the Veer Towers residences (a breathtaking pair of 37-story glass towers inclined toward each other at five-degree angles designed by Helmut Jahn), and the Crystals retail and entertainment district (Daniel Libeskind). CityCenter is one of the world’s largest environmentally sustainable urban communities, with all of the above having received LEED® Gold Core & Shell certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Seen as the town square of this super city, it is Libeskind’s Crystals that is perhaps the most indicative of this new Vegas. His vision was that every angle this 500,000 square foot retail and dining park would constitute a work of art. The ingenious combination of 16,455 unique pieces of steel - straight components, leaning columns, and curving trusses - in such a way that no right angles can be found, meant that each piece had to be installed one at a time, about forty a day. But it was worth the painstaking work - this extraordinary glass roof invokes the exquisite multi-facets of a quartz crystal and bathes visitors with natural light as they peruse the multitude of exclusive retail and entertainment locales.
There are almost too many world-famous luxury retailers based at Crystals to mention. Each of the three-levels of this groundbreaking complex boasts flagship stores from illustrious fashion and design houses. Most notable was the unveiling of the largest Louis Vuitton store in North America, the first free-standing TOM FORD locale on the West Coast of the United States, and a host of exclusive brands premiering stores in Las Vegas - Carolina Herrera, Miu Miu, Paul Smith, Kiton, Kiki De Montparnasse, Marni, Assouline, H. Stern, Tourbillon, Lanvin, Brunello Cucinelli, and Porsche Design. These are a representative sample from a overwhelming list of retailers whose pedigree never slips below super-chic.
Such is the prestige of both Libeskind and this roster of designers and brands that Crystals and CityCenter represent a new direction for Las Vegas - that of a leading light in the global design community. But the story does not end here, with an - albeit breathtaking - super mall, as Crystals also invites visitors to experience some of the hottest names in American cuisine and nightlife.
With Beso, A-list actress and celebrity Eva Longoria Parker has brought her highly successful Latin steakhouse from Hollywood to Las Vegas a fresh and eclectic approach to this classic American cuisine in collaboration with highly decorated - three-time James Beard winner Todd English. Longoria Parker also presents her nightclub Eva, an 8,000-square-foot stunning location that affords incredible views of CityCenter’s extraordinary futuristic cityscape. Todd English P.U.B. (Public Urban Bar), is English’s first pub concept and offers a traditional East-Coast bar experience with a redolent curved wooden bar, exquisite traditional and more creative delicacies, a full raw bar and a selection of thirty premium beers. Celebrated super-chef Wolfgang Puck chose to open his first French restaurant in nearly thirty years - Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina - and also The Pods, a full service café and bar. Crystals also features a beautiful sushi restaurant created by chef Joe Elevado, protégé of Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa as well as “Japanese Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, and a Vegas debut for renowned seafood and steak specialists Mastro’s at Mastro’s Ocean Club.
The final statement in Crystals’ manifesto for the future can be seen with the choice of interior designer. Creative guru David Rockwell and his Rockwell Group of architects and designers use an innovative cross-disciplinary approaches to exteriors and interiors that can be considered peerless, and Crystals is no exception. Taking the central concept of a city-center for CityCenter, Rockwell has channeled this potentially intimidating collection of haute couture and cuisine into an environment with a sense of an urban neighborhood. At the complex’s centre sinuously climbs the fascinating eighty foot Tree House sculpture, which spans the building’s three stories and envelopes Mastro’s Ocean Club. Lavished with the organic simplicity of the “changeable artwork” - including flower carpet and hanging gardens - Rockwell’s design makes Crystals a truly experimental and exciting experience.
- Ben Stewart
Address: 3720 South Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, 89158
Tel: 702 590 9299
Photo Credit: Courtesy of CityCenter Las Vegas