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Throwback: The W Las Vegas

By Chuckmonster on Thursday, 15th August 2013 12:57pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 9


Eight years ago this week, at the height of the building boom, Starwood Hotels announced W Las Vegas. The W was planned to be the linchpins of the burgeoning "Harmon Corridor" - a spoke like, eastward extension of The Strip. Construction got as far as clearing most of parcel and erecting construction fending wrapped in quirky W brand messages. The plywood has since been repainted black, but contains a sad, legally mandated message.

The Harmon Corridor would've extended from the front door of City Center and Cosmopolitan and extend eastwards to the Hard Rock which, at the time, was on the verge of capitalizing on its immense popularity with the just announced HRH expansion. Between them would've been Starwood's W and Las Ramblas a luxury property attached to actor George Clooney, creating brand new new neighborhood of sparking modern luxury properties focused at the higher end of the marketplace.

Of these properties, only the HRH expansion survived, but not without hobbling the Hard Rock and sending it into a tailspin of changing ownership that has only in the last year been righted and set forth on focused trajectory.

The W Las Vegas was designed by architects Lacina Heitler (click on the logo then click on "Case Study" in the bottom right corner of the pop up window) and Klai Juba.

The buildings are certainly familiar looking and fit perfectly in the design zeitgeist. Glass curtain wall of varied width stripes in blue hues (Mandarin Oriental, HRH) cladding pancaked boxes of varying thicknesses (Vdara, Revel) and an oblong trapezoidal showpiece building which uses dimension to outwit perception of scale (Mandarin Oriental, Veer, Cosmopolitan). These properties are built right to the street with mixed use thoroughfares, square glass atriums straight from the Apple Store aesthetic and some kooky shaped glass exterior walls and a ton of rooftop pools.

Sadly, none of this ever progressed beyond images and ideas.

Can you imagine how the rest of the Strip would've changed had the W and Las Ramblas both been completed? Cosmopolitan and ARIA would've opened into a crowded marketplace, vying for the same clientele. Planet Hollywood and Bally's may have seen their fortunes rise by being luxury adjacent. Bellagio would've slipped from top joint in town to being on the cusp of middle-tier. Wynn and forthcoming Encore would've seemed like a world away. Nobody would've funded the Tropicana renovations and the north Strip might have been in even worse of a state than it is now. Would the Downtown resurgence have moved to Harmon Adjacent?

We'll never know... or will we?

Tagged: throwback   harmon corridor   architecture   w las vegas   las ramblas   hard rock   hrh   klai juba   lacina heitler   


Comments & Discussion:

Excellent read on the laws of unintended consequences. You only really see them when you look back as well.

It’s interesting to think back to those heady days… when vegastodayandtomorrow.com was announcing new projects every week? (Remember the Plaza and Viva!) It felt like Vegas was the middle of the universe.
In this theoretical, if the W and Las Rambles had been completed, we can go on to pontificate the economic climate would have allowed Fountainbleu and Echelon to be completed, along with Venetian’s St. Regis tower. There would have been a seismic shifting of resources along the strip to compete with the new properties and downtown would not be experiencing the current renaissance.

most importantly...would it have led to a more competitive room market where resort fees didn't exist? Oh, to live in that timeline...

Great post Chuck. Love the history. Amazing that City Center did get built and some of the other arguably better ideas never happened.

This is actually a semi-serious question:

Everybody understands "The Strip." But what happens when The Strip grows perpendicular? Would Vegas have been known as The Crossroads? The X? The Strips?

Anyway, let's not forget about the condos that were built on West Harmon across I-15 from CityCenter. And, in that vein, I wonder how much of the MGM Signature, (former) Planet Hollywood timeshares and the Grand Chateau would have figured into the mix.

Really interesting piece.

Ah, what could have been.

I think we are seeing some of the horizontalization of the strip with Linq and Park, and I do believe a big reason for that was the proposed Harmon development.

This year Vegas will have a record number of tourists so the Strip will continue to be developed from one-end to another, it'll just take a little more time than everyone thought. I for one believe the Strip's best days are ahead of it!

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