Featurette: The Crystals Shopping District at CityCenter
Whisky drenched saloons. Neon covered gamblin' halls. Art deco meets western tinged motels. Desert Oasi. Jet set tropicalia. White tigers, volcanos and pirate battles. Injection molded turrets. Pilfered papier-mache artifacts. Miniaturized urbanities. Italianate reproductions. Downtown Houston 1983. Egyptology cum Airport. Hooters. To know where you're going, you need to know where you've been.
The Crystals By Day...
Possibly the best way to describe The Crystals shopping district at CityCenter would be by making a physical comparison. Take the Forum Shops at Caesars, Miracle Desert Passage Mile whatchamacallit at P-Ho, Wynn Esplanade and Fashion Show Mall, then place them every so gently into a luminescent menagerie. Smash the menagerie to bits with a baseball bat, then dump angular remnants into a glowing heap at the foot of equally creative architecture.
...and by night
Vegas, the noun, functions equally as well as an adjective, expressing an all-encompassing ginormity of epic and exponentially preposterous proportions.
...and for real
Imagine, if you will, your local shopping mall. More than likely, it's a two or three decker affair with department stores stores on each end, movie theatre in the middle and food court perched near the center atrium. Chances are they've also bolted on a big-box store or two in an unused parking lot and dotted the sidewalk and corners with chain sit-downs and drive thru's.
This isn't your hometown shopping mall. This is insane.
The concept of mall has been transferred to Vegas numerous times- usually in grand scope, with thematic decor and high rolling prices - however, there hasn't truly been a vegas mall (small v). While the shops herein (Vuitton, Tiffany, Rolex, Apple & Hot Dog On A Stick) have some overlap with competing promenade offerings, a majority of The Crystals' retailers are skewed - thematically? - towards jewelry and timepieces. Counting outcroppings of Cinnabon's and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's isn't this focus of this journey, but instead the ostentatious gall of the building itself.
The Crystals - via Gehry, crumpled twisted and smashed - is vegas. Amidst CityCenter's more New York than New York-New York metropolitan skyscraperosity - aptly titled VEER's leaning towers of condos, bent 'till bowed Vdara, Harmon's candy coated edgeless simplicity, four winged swoosh of ARIA and Mandarin Oriental's subtly askew municipal boxyness - a cement cube stuffed with trinket peddlers would have embarrassed the cityhood.
The result is possibly one of the most exciting and truly obscene displays of resortitechture ever dreamt up, let alone approved by corporate. Look at that mess!
The Crystals has taken a purely Vegas spectacle - the implosion - and used it as a structural theme. Each and every angular (j)utterances competes for attention, creating an array of dramatic poses which never reveal its true form.
Music Sweet Music
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." - Frank Zappa
Whereas Bellagio's form is a Symphony of age tested structural sonatas, handed down from Bach to Mozart to Beethoven to Brahms to Bartok, City Center is a six movement tone poem, filled with sawtooth resonances, pointillistic orchestrations, dense atonal harmonies and gleaming disjointed melodies which would make Webern (iTunes), Varese (iTunes), Boulez (iTunes) and Cage (iTunes) blush.
CityCenter's centerpiece, Aria, shares it's name with a traditional operatic form. I truly believe that the irony inherent in the 'wrongness' of the name - akin to the purposeful 'wrongness' of the Crystals' architecture - is most likely lost on those who made the decision. Aria? Tenuously understandable if one inverts their suspended disbelief.
Marquee de Side
None of the renderings I've seen show a traditional marquee or signage for CityCenter, other than hotel names bolted onto the apex of Aria and Vdara's towers. Perhaps the Crystals strip facing windows will function as marquee and advertising all at once? Planet Hollywood's Times Square-ish strip frontage sorta does this, but not nearly as well as the Grand Lisboa's casino in Macau. While it's doubtful that CityCenter will appropriate the LED concept, they are planning some kind of projections as seen by the model in the windows. The unknown knows.
Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?
Exterior : implosion. Interior : Kubrick (and I don't mean the Wordpress theme... or do I?). The angles continue...
...with a fountain of couches surrounded by wicker and weeds of red.
Without your space helmet, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult.
Porcelain escalators wrapped in a beehive of shopping opportunity.
So What Does It All Mean?
Avant garde post-postmodernist architecture will probably excite about as many Las Vegas visitors as avant garde jazz does. Last time I checked, there were zero clubs on the strip that had real live jazz, let alone the weird stuff.
I love the weird stuff.
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