Alleys of Reflection

I have to say, this blog has been a fantastic tool for me. In fact, reflection as a tool itself is one that I find to have nothing but benefits. It provides us a sounding board to set in concrete our own beliefs. Our ability to think audibly, and to get out of our own minds is huge. Especially on the cusp of the professional world of Landscape Architecture, this reflection strengthens our ability to communicate our vision more clearly; and if we can communicate our vision more clearly, then we can focus on design more, and selling the design less. Anyways, enough of the reflection on reflection (and really selling you on its usefulness), let's get to reflecting on design. 

The Victory Hotel as it currently stands. Our intentions are to refurbish the historic facade. 

As a quick debrief, our project exists on the block of the Old Victory Hotel in Downtown Las Vegas. Our big program elements include a social club, food trucks, community art spaces, and most importantly interior block access through the development of alleyways. 

Recently, with the addition of two new group members, one Landscape Architect and one Grad Student Architect, the dynamic of our quaint three member group has changed. Thus far, the strong group dynamic shown in our 36 hour charrette has carried through, but simply grown in volume with added members. We have set out determined to accomplish a significant amount of work before Thursdays first review, and slowly but surely we have identified our strengths, interests, and intentions. 

Our groups major investigative design pieces are as follows: 

  • Emmy: The design of the building footprints and programming. 
  • Ken: The investigation into the capability of a net-zero site (for the entire block). 
  • Aziz: The development of an appropriate and responsible planting palette/design. 
  • Kassia: The design and investigation of the historic preservation of The Victory Hotel. 
  • Tom (me): The design of the alleyways as well as congruent outdoor spaces. 

Undoubtedly these pieces have a great deal of overlap. So while these are our focuses, we have many other investigations and collaborations as a team. From the onset, the alleyways have been where I have wanted to focus my energy on, so I am thrilled to head that charge. The edges of the block are surrounded by a hodgepodge of developments that include a prison, a large city hall facility, a tertiary casino entryway, as well as a massive parking lot. So the intentions of the alleyway is to develop the block from the inside out. If we can integrate a life within the block, the intention is for it to begin to bleed out on to the adjacent arts trail as well as across from Main Street where the parking lot stands. 

Though it is less than ideal, the alleyway in the site provides plenty of space to work with.

Void of vegetation, amenities, and really any interest whatsoever, the intention is for the alleyway to begin to look something like this: 

An early representation of what the alleyway could look like. 

As displayed in the early rendering, there is intent of creating a shading structure that works with our hope of developing a net-zero block. This would mean installing a structure of solar panels. There would be two types of solar panels: one that thrives in direct sunlight, and one that is efficient in both direct and indirect sunlight. The placement of these panels will be determined by the heights and footprints of surrounding buildings and where their shadows cast. 

Regardless of its resulting form, we understand that when in a city with such great amounts of solar potential, in addition to such a lack of shade, that it only makes sense to work these two observations together into an effective shade structure. 

Moving forward, we want to begin to identify how the layout of the ground plane within the alleyway works with the buildings designed by Emmy. That coincides with the plantings recommended by Aziz. We are feeling comfortable at this point, but we also understand the importance of pushing forward. Oh, and reflection. Reflection's important too. 

News and Notes

  • As I noted a few weeks back, the MLS will not be coming to Las Vegas. This opens up an ongoing opportunity for the NHL to find a home in Las Vegas. As stated in the article, '7,350' season tickets have been sold to this point. They hope to keep The Strip from buying them up, and intend on marketing these seats to families of Las Vegas. 
  • 7 weeks of school left? How?! Why??? WHAT!?!!??
  • Currently listening to: Mac Demarco. This is one part lo-fi, one part rousing, and 20 parts reflection. It only felt appropriate.