Coming Home

We are back from Las Vegas, full of perspective, and low on sleep. The stark contrasts between the blinding lights of Las Vegas, and the blinding snow of Iowa is, well, blinding. Now that I have had an opportunity to allow for my mental state to catch up with my physical state of being in Iowa, I see no reason not to reflect. 

Having arrived late Friday, we stayed at the historic El Cortez hotel, and firmly planted within one of the most lively parts of Las Vegas. We were ready to dive in. 

The view from our balcony at the El Cortez Hotel. 

The view from our balcony at the El Cortez Hotel. 

For much of our time, we really just wandered and looked into the feel of Downtown (and all of its districts) more than anything. What we found was a lively, yet disjointed city. With places like the Fremont Street Experience, the Container Park, and the Arts District (which holds the First Friday Festival each month) there are great amenities downtown. The issue is the inability to connect all of these amenities. There were few comfortable streetscapes, and even fewer consistencies between streets. Some had vegetation, some were blank. Some were narrow, some were comfortably wide. Some had great furnishings and ground plane interest, some completely disregarded these elements. 

I am sure you get the point. There is no continuity between one block/street to another. Even being the "district guy," I had a difficult time differentiating between districts while walking around. That poses a much larger issue than what our current site parameters can provide. In an attempt to bite off what we can chew, my group mates and I have concluded that a block of development that is respondent to the successful contextual pieces, yet catalytic in its approach to the area is the appropriate route to take. 

Joined by two other students, our team has embarked upon a 36 hour design charrette for the coming week. Our site: The old Victory Hotel (located below). 


What has already heavily framed our concept of this block is the fact that it is within the Office Core District. As I have stated in my earlier blog posts, the Office Core District is home to many courthouses, banks, and business buildings. This means business people. These people are generally settled down, and are looking for an opportunity to relax at lunch, and wind down after work. Now combining this block with how it butts up against the Art Trail on 1st Street, this has framed us with an interesting need; an art center for business professionals. 

Our objectives for the site: 

  • To create connectivity within the block through the use of the existing alleyways.  
  • Provide areas for business professionals to meet for lunch, and after work drinks. 
  • Create artful spaces for the Office Core District.
  • Develop shaded outdoor spaces within the block. 
  • Address all of the edges of site, including those on the interior. 
  • Preserve portions of the Victory Hotel, and include it as a potential social club. 

These are just early concepts and directions; but we already feel confident about these concepts and directions. More to come after the 36 hour charrette deadline this Wednesday. Any way you slice it, though, a good ol' fashioned brain dump is in order.  


News and Notes (and observations)

  • It would appear that the MLS will not be coming to Las Vegas. This is huge, because our Victory Hotel Site is just southwest of the site in which the stadium was proposed. The Symphony Park's development will surely be changing in some capacity in light of this news. 
  • I was amazed how often our group would bump into Tony Hsieh while downtown. Whether it be in the Container Park, or the Gold Spike Hotel, the CEO of Zappos (and major developer for Downtown Las Vegas) is obviously not deterred by his own fame. It is obvious that he cares about this community moving forward. 
  • Currently listening to: Leon that we are back and local, it only felt appropriate to throw this track on.