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If Only CityCenter Could Play A Mulligan

By Chuckmonster on Friday, 10th September 2010 5:32am
  » filed under Awesome!  comments: 12


I'm told that football season started last night, and what better way for us to celebrate it by doing a whole bunch of Monday Morning Quarterbacking of our own - telling the world class architects and designers and the suits who signed off on CityCenter how they f'd the whole damn thing up.

Then again, they probably know better than we do how f'd up CityCenter is. Pile on!

Fortunately for us, VT reader extraordinaire has drawn up a completely new site plan for CityCenter that takes the current building footprints and re arranges them amazingly.

Before we get into the details, let us first go back in time to the very moment that the concept of CityCenter jumped forth from the brain of MGM Mirage executive Jim Murren to paper and eventually reality. This is the first drawing of CityCenter's site plan as done by Mr. Murren using some sharpies and high lighters.

CityCenter Drawing by Jim Murren

The hotel, flanked by two condo towers is situated right on The Strip with an easily accessible porte cochere. Behind the hotel is a gigantic retail complex which is littered with five connecting pocket parks. The CityCenter choo choo tram runs through/over it. Further to the back of the property is a large office building surrounded by four condos which will presumably be occupied by the folks who work in the office building. Another condo tower is situated adjacent to the Bellagio Spa tower.

This is CityCenter. When did it go pear shaped?

CityCenter Rendering

This is the first 3d digital rendering of Murren's concept, complete with a dome style porte cochere, M Resortish condo outcroppings and a hotel tower that looks the bastard child of a MGM Grand, Bellagio and Rio threesome.

CityCenter Rendering

The same rendering from a side view. The retail blobs are bisected by a covered pocket park walkway that goes to the office building/condos way in the back. There is no tram.

CityCenter Aerial

And above, via Google Maps, the actual layout of the parcel.

Somewhere along the line, the architects and designers decided to fly in the face of 50 years of casino design history and move the tourist centric components as far away from the tourist arteries as possible. Ok, so maybe in terms of paces it is about the same distance as other set back properties, but nobody except folks who follow this stuff reasonably closely expect the buildings closest to The Strip to NOT be be the hotel/casino.

And now, the piece de resistance, the proposed new layout of CityCenter by SteveCovington. If only we could peel the buildings off the ground and move them around like Colorforms to build this version - its genius!

CityCenter Aerial

Aria is moved right up to the front of the parcel with easy access to Crystals and Viva Elvis via the traffic circle and by easy foot traffic access. The Aria & Monte Carlo pool complexes are almost melded into one synergistic mass, Vdara has been turned into a THEhotel outcropping of Aria in every way shape and (cost savings) form and Mandarin Oriental has been moved to a sexy secluded area adjacent to Bellagio and having a great view of a new Bellagio fountainish attraction in the North Valet porte cochere. He's even kept the CVS and the Pocket Park! Missing? The Tram, Harmon and Veer. The fact of the matter is, their sole reason to exist was to get condo buyers to pre-fund construction of the entire project. Nobody wants to live 15 feet from a casino. The tram... well... how about making that thing go underground, above ground and drive the thing right through the middle of the hotel tower!

"Do over!"

Thank you Steve for taking the time to make this drawing and share it with us. Nice work!

Tagged: citycenter   renderings   aria   murren   


Comments & Discussion:

Why does anyone bother to obsess about something they have no control over, no personal investment in, or any chance to effect change of?

Isn't this the property that was given several "Best Of" awards in the last trippies? Now it seems the same people who could do nothing but praise the place less than 10 months ago, is now trying to tear it down. How fickle you people are.

Why don't you do what I am doing and that is waiting for the implosions to happen in about 15 years from now. I can just imagine watching the two Veer towers fall in opposite directions just after the demolition charges go off.

^^^ you know, if you feed the trolls, they win.

Good golly that bitchin' and complaining about the editors picking Aria and Mandarin Oriental in last years Trippies awards sounds familiar. Hrm....


The early renders that included office towers had no scale for the amount of ancillary buildings surrounding a hotel tower that is needed to house the amenities of a modern megaresort. There was no real space for the casino, no garage, no showroom, etc.

The other thing not visible in the admittedly nice drawing is self-park. Or otherwise the parking situation would have to be adjusted so that CityCenter guests self-park in the Bellagio employee/Vdara valet lot.

The biggest problem CityCenter faces is stuffing so many amenities at such scale and having such little parking due to the fact that the garages also have to house employee's cars and partially support Bellagio (given that CC's land was, prior to CC, a Bellagio employee surface lot.)

Thanks for the complements, guys! Didn't expect it to pop on the VTNews... and Chuck, thanks for posting all those original renders and plans! AWFUL looking, but very fun to look at. It's interesting to see it evolve from pure shit to a skid-mark.

It really is a shame that they couldn't plan this thing correctly from the get go. I have never seen any of those above original plans, but I think those are more disastrous than what we ended up with. Fucking awful. I do prefer the name "55 West" over "CityCenter", that could have been a nice name for Vdara.

I kept Aria's layout basically the same, but expanded the area near the North porte cochere. I would have changed the design though, "borrowing" elements from Wynn and Encore such as skylights, atrium space, etc. Where I show the intersection of Aria, the nightclub, Crystals and the pocket park- there would be a lush atrium similar in design to the main registration area that would flow into the ViewBar and registration areas. A grand entry for a grand property. As has been suggested, skylights would bring in natural light to the casino pathways, echoing the curve of the main tower.

The new Vdara would be mainly a convention hotel, perhaps with some condo element... It would be directly connected to the western side of Aria's public spaces and would share the nearby Spa and pool facilities.

Mandarin Oriental would become sort of a component of Bellagio as both evoke a sense of luxury and class. Parts of the Bellagio Spa tower expansion area where the newer convention rooms are would be completely redone to help blend the modern-Asian style MO with B. Perhaps some casino space could be added between the two properties.

The "interchange" between the properties on Harmon would become a lushly landscaped park- an "upscale" strip within the strip. No weird canoe shit or anything like that, but a proper "gateway" into the CityCenter. The Bellagio inspired fountain would be a hybrid between the fountain shows at Bellagio, Wynn Macau and "Disney World of Color". Water, fire and projected images. Something like that anyway- all positioned for proper viewing from all the properties, the 15 and on Harmon.

As for the parking issue, the self park would be subterranean under the property, similar to what we see over at Palazzo. Escalators right up into the casino.

I'm kind of tempted to do a more detailed version, with the casino layout, etc. Maybe add in the CityCenter ChooChoo.
I also stumbled across this..
That would have just been awful. What the fuck was MGM thinking??

Ah, see I love Steve's "rethinking" of the CC complex, but I also think the original "55 West" renderings are a 1000x better, organizationally, than what exists today.

The casino right up to the Strip would immediately solve at least 1/2 of CityCenter's problems. Then, you have the two condo towers flanking it -- maybe one would originally have been conceived as a Vdara-style condotel, or maybe one would have become Mandarin Oriental.

A couple of the towers in the back could have been sacrificed for the needed ancillary services minvegas mentions.

And, as the project went on and the economy soured, the condo towers and/or the office tower at the rear of the property could have been mothballed or cancelled. Even mothballed, wouldn't that be a whole lot better than the current situation? You wouldn't have Harmon as the Strip's largest billboard, nor Veer, many of its floors used for crated storage (and completely visible from the rooms at Aria!). Instead, CC's unused and unwanted towers would have been stuffed to the rear of the property, where they wouldn't be such eyesores.

It isn't clear from the "55 West" drawings where Murren envisioned the casino's pool complex. But I do love Steve's idea of making it adjacent to the MC's pool, perhaps even a shared complex. You could re-position Monte Carlo's pool as a quiet, peaceful oasis; while Aria's pool becomes the "party scene," and guests of either property can use the pool area they prefer. Also allows for centralization and consolidation of pool services, equipment, staff, etc.

We can argue whether or not MGM could/would/should have built a better mousetrap, but at the end of the day the real problem for CityCenter right now is that regardless of its layout, there just aren't enough mice for them to catch.

Let's face it: City Center is the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull of hotel/casino complexes. We were all really looking forward to it, but now we just pretend like it didn't happen.

I happen to dislike a lot about CityCenter. But while there is a heck of a lot wrong with it, I do have to admire that, in early 2006, the Boardwalk Hotel was still standing, and in 3 1/2 years they completed one of the most ambitious building complexes imaginable. I get the "what the fuck were they thinking" thought and "wow, this is amazing what they have accomplished" feeling both at the same time.

I must admit, the idea of having the Mandarin adjacent and perhaps incorporated in some way with Bellagio is at the very least intriguing. I have to say however, that I dislike the discinclusion of Veer, not for its use, but for the completely amazing spatial qualities it brings to CC.

Oh, and by the way, does anyone think the first renderings look like the Glendale Galleria became a blob and ate downtown Glendale? And an office tower, seriously? Guess MGM really does want workers spending every lunch hour blowing their lunch money on slots.

Much better. I hated the walk to Aria (amongst other problems with it). Aria feels like it's in the middle of a downtown. I know that was the concept, but it doesn't fit the Vegas resort feel. How the project got the go ahead is beyond me.

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