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Las Vegas: Where Architects Run Free

by andrew June 2010 - last edited February 2013 by Community Manager

In a place where it seems absolutely anything goes, it would be weird if Las Vegas didn't have a lot of eye-catching and unusual buildings. With its well-established fantasy image, Sin City is the one place in America where architecture’s boldest and bravest practitioners can live out their wildest design dreams. For the visitor, this means an ever-changing skyline that definitely adds to the awe.

Here we take a look at a few of the best and barmiest buildings the city has to offer…

 

Best of The Strip

Ever evolving, with some of the world's most expensive hotels and casinos continually jostling for attention, The Strip is home to more than its fair share of arresting architecture.

 

While the classic Sahara, one of the last remaining Rat Pack-era establishments, has its impressive Moroccan-style minaret out front, the last twenty years have found casino-hotels really wearing their themes on their sleeves. As we all know, it’s now possible to see the Statue of Liberty (New York-NewYork) and the Eiffel Tower (Paris Las Vegas) within a block of each other.

 

 

Luxor Las Vegas by Flowizm on Flickr

Luxor Las Vegas by Flowizm on Flickr

 

When it comes to post-modern pomp however, Veldon Simpson is the current king of The Strip. The architect already had the crazy Camelot-themed Excalibur and the relatively austere MGM Grand to his name when he set to work on the Luxor. At 350-foot (110 m) this monster stands at ¾ the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza from which it takes its inspiration. Though its influence is ancient, the Luxor with its gleaming bronze glass exterior, is about as modern as it gets. Even with the recent addition of adverts, you might still want to slide down its shiny sides. A safer and more realistic option is to take a ride inside in the lifts, which travel at 39 degrees - 'inclinators' not elevators.

 

New Kids on the Block

Just opened in December 2009, the CityCenter complex truly takes things to the next level. Comprised of six separate pieces, it has about as many curves, colours and odd shapes as you could conceivably fit in one block. It's like a mini city within a city and may be a vision of Vegas to come.

 

 

 

CityCenter by Bert K on Flickr

CityCenter by Bert K on Flickr

 

Amazingly, while its outrageous/audacious appearance screams Vegas, only one of CityCenter's buildings, the Aria actually has a casino. In fact, the most fascinating thing here – if we had to choose – is the residential Veer Towers. Designed by Helmut Jahn, these twin towers actually lean in opposite directions, evoking the wooziness you're fairly likely to experience at some point during your Vegas stay. In keeping with the 'New Vegas', Veer Towers' innovation also claims green credentials, having been awarded Gold certification by LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design).

 

 

 

The Crystals, CityCenter by bark on Flickr

The Crystals, CityCenter by bark on Flickr

 

Perhaps every bit as wonderful in its wonkiness is The Crystals shopping and entertainment centre, which sits beneath the towers. Aptly named, its shops' facades jut out at weird angles at all over the place as if vying for their place in the Nevada sun.

 

A Living City

It might not be immediately obvious, but Las Vegas isn’t just a tourist attraction; people live here too. And believe it or not, some of the city’s most interesting architecture can be found in residential developments, like the solar friendly sci-fi Newport Lofts, and even religious ones, such as the strikingly modern Salvation Army Hope Chapel.

 

Best of all though, is The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. It’s a bit of a mouthful but even more of an eyeful. The latest work by the iconoclastic Frank Gehry folds all over itself as if its metallic sides had been cast while red-hot then bent out of shape. Visiting a centre for serious scientific research is probably the last thing you’d think of doing in Vegas, but it’s well worth a trip off the tourist track to see this building’s astonishing structure up close.

 

 

Lou Rovo Brain Health Center by DoNotLick on Flickr

Lou Rovo Brain Health Center by DoNotLick on Flickr

 

For more on making the most of Sin City, see our post on The Best Side-Trips from Las Vegas.

Photos by DoNotLick, bark, Flowizm and Bert K.

Also be sure to check Virgin Holidays’ range of Vegas breaks, or visit the Virgin Atlantic website for flight-only deals.

Or have you been to Vegas recently? What are you're favourite Vegas buildings? Leave us a comment below. Got any great pics? Are you on Flickr? Join our brand new vtravelled Flickr group.


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Comments
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IanFreeman June 2010
Just a small correction. The Sahara is not the last of the rat-pack hotels still standing - that'll be The Flamingo, owned originally by Bugsy Siegel.
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June 2010
Of course. You're absolutely right, Ian. Thanks for reminding us!
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Natalie October 2010
And you might add the virtual tours these people did;

http://www.destination360.com/north-america/us/nevada/las-vegas/aria-las-vegas

especially check out this one:

http://www.destination360.com/north-america/us/nevada/las-vegas/vdara/virtual-tour

Sweet!

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Bibliographyl May 2012
The Architecture of Las Vegas | vtravelled Blog. (n.d.). vtravelled: The Virgin Atlantic travel blog. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from http://blog.vtravelled.com/las-vegas-where-architects-run-free/
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About the author: andrew

Andrew Bowman

Andrew is an occasional contributor to the Virgin Atlantic blog. He lived in the Japanese countryside for two years until he could no longer resist the pull of London's galleries, pubs and clubs. He likes to pretend he can speak Japanese and also sometimes writes about music.