Las Vegas vs The Landscape: Photographer Michael Light Exposes the Terraforming of the American Dream
“Nestled into the desert landscape that defines Nevada’s visage,
Ascaya feels as if it were shaped by the elements.
Where stone rises up to meet the sky, there is a place called Ascaya.”
- The Ascaya promotional website
Not quite, according to Michael Light’s soon-to-be released book, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain. Covering the advance of suburban Nevada into the desert, this two-part book looks at Lake Las Vegas, a then-abandoned victim of the 2008 real estate crash which has since emerged from the other side of bankruptcy, and nearby Ascaya, a high end housing estate that is still in the process of being carved into Black Mountain. Light’s photography doesn’t so much question the developers’ summary as it does, say, blast it, scar it, terrace it and then build a large housing development on the remains. Featuring beautifully composed aerial shots of the construction sites and golf courses covering the desert, the book is a clear condemnation of the destructive and unsustainable development in Nevada. Much more than that, though, Light is highlighting a wider philosophy behind developments like Ascaya and Lake Las Vegas that fundamentally fail to connect American society with the American landscape in a non-destructive way.
Vincent Laforet is at it again, this time photographing Nevada’s Sin City from an elevation of 10,800 feet (8,799 feet above the city). Part two of Laforet’s dizzying series of city aerials, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer was drawn to desert city of Las Vegas because of its “island” effect.
“Just like the island of Manhattan that started this series, Vegas is an “Island of Light” in the middle of nothingness… A sea of black with an amazing source of light emanating from Vegas and its infamous strip… You can almost see the electricity running through it.”
A collection of “Sin City” images, after the break.
A court approved ruling has sealed the fate of Foster + Partners’ half-built Harmon Hotel in Las Vegas. Unfinished due to structural defects, the 27-story glass tower was once envisioned to be the staple of the $8.5 billion CityCenter entertainment complex. However, since problems arose in 2008, the stunted hotel and casino has instead served as a glorified billboard.
Though it has yet to be determined who will be blamed for the faulty construction, owner MGM Resorts International has been granted permission to dismantle the blue glass building floor-by-floor at a cost of $11.5 million.
From the architect. Placing second overall, just a few points behind the winning 2013 Solar Decathlon team, students from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (Team Las Vegas) have won the “Market Appeal” contest at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) sixth solar-home competition. Known as “DesertSol”, the project was lauded for its “livability, marketability and constructability” as well as its “appeal within the housing market of the target client chosen by team.” It is designed to be a self-reliant, energy-efficient second home for upper-middle income Americans who pursue active lifestyles in the sparsely populated Mojave Desert. Read on for the team’s project description.
It began with the relocation of the Zappos Headquarters, now owned by Amazon, from its offices in Henderson, Nevada, to the former city hall in downtown Las Vegas: an idea to transform the struggling part of downtown Las Vegas into a vibrant community with economic opportunities for young professionals along with an incentive for a variety of companies to build their foundations providing jobs and income for the city. Despite America’s association with the Las Vegas strip, the downtown has a metro area dominated by unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy. Zappos CEO Tony Hseih saw this area, filled with vacant lots, liquor stores and motels, as an opportunity to develop something new and enriched that could foster an economy, bring young professionals and inspire natural growth of community and industry. Hseih’s Downtown Project aims to develop a community by listening to what people want and need from their physical environment, that is also dense, diverse and inspires economic growth.
Join us after the break for more.
assemblageSTUDIO recently won the AIA Nevada unbuilt Award for their project, Qlab. A communal atmosphere of open collaboration and interaction has replaced the typical open cubicle office to create a new generation, which has energized downtown Las Vegas. The desire to be all consumed and surrounded by likeminded organizations with a rekindled attitude towards downtown. This spirit is captured in the project by combining a café, lounge, residential and open bay modular office spaces. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Chosen for its outstanding construction management techniques and environmental sensitivity, the North Las Vegas City Hall and Civic Plaza was recently named 2012 Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association (APWA). Designed by Fentress Architects, the project was completed $17 million under budget in 2011 and as a result of a downtown revitalization effort, North Las Vegas’ new City Hall successfully consolidates the city’s departments into a one-stop-shop offering convenience, efficiency and ease of navigation for both city staff and residents. More architects’ description after the break.
Anne Lindberg’s recent work essentially redefines space using thread. Bordering the definintion of architecture and sculpture, Lindberg allows color and light to manipulate the hundreds of millimeter-thick strands to create a web – a three-dimensional volume affixed to the architecture. Each of her pieces is specific to the place in which it is situated, no two identical based on the architecture, its lighting conditions and the space’s use. The pieces are architectural in so far as they are “contextual and integral to the space”, she says. The exhibition of drawn pink (watch the video after the break) ends today at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nevada, while andante green will be on exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art until July 15th.
ArchDaily asked Anne Lindberg a few questions about her work. Read the responses and find out more about her installations after the break.
Architect: Line and Space, LLC
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Completion Date: 2011
Project Area: 52, 700SqFt
Client: US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management
Contractor: Straub Construction
Structural Engineer: Holben, Martin, and White Consulting Structural Engineers
Civil Engineer: GLHN Architects and Engineers
Exhibit/Interpretive Consultant: Hilferty and Associates
Photography: Robert Reck, Henry Tom
Architects: Tate Snyder Kimsey
Location: Fernley, Nevada, USA
Project Team: Windom Kimsey, Mike Purtill, Vincent Novak, Christopher Lujan, Molly Smith, Kevin Kemner, Pat Pusich, Jake Gay, Dorothy Schwankle, Jeni Masters, Daniel Chenin, Nick Rosania, Mike Brown
General Contractor: Rafael Construction, Inc.
Project Area: 97,520 sqf
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Tom Bonner
Northern S.T.A.R.S. Safety Village, designed by assemblageSTUDIO, is a place where children learn real life strategies for dealing with emergencies while developing a positive attitude towards safety. The Northern S.T.A.R.S. Safety Village will combine traditional classroom education methods with unique interactive experiences in a realistic child-sized townscape. The overall design of the facility will also educate people on how to live in this desert region. With multiple sustainable systems people will learn how to live sustainably in the desert. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Architects: Rockwell Group
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Founder and CEO: David Rockwell
Principals: Edmond Bakos, Tucker Viemeister
Studio Leader: Gregory Stanford
Project Managers: Robert Vertes
Interior Designers: Penelope Fisher-White, Lauren Farquhar and Emily Morley
Staff: Ray Chuang, Harold Gainer Jodel Narcisse, Nancy Thiel and Rahm Erez
Project area: 10,000 sq. ft.
Photographs: James Medcraft
Las Vegas is our destination for the Architecture City Guide series this week. Some of the most famous hotels and casinos grace the streets of Las Vegas, we’ve included those and much more. We want to hear from you, so take a minute to add your favorite can’t miss buildings in Las Vegas in our comment section below.
The Architecture City Guide: Las Vegas list and corresponding map after the break!
Murphy Jahn approached the Veer Towers design with the intention of exhibiting urban responsibility, paying particular attention to the building’s performance in terms of function and systems. The larger challenge was to make the project an integral part of Las Vegas but also to give its buildings and spaces a unique and strong identity. Following the break are photographs and description about this 2010 LEED Gold Certified building.
Architects: Murphy Jahn
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Lead Designers: Helmut Jahn & Francisco Gonzalez Pulido
Associate Architect: AAI Architects Inc
Structural Engineer: Halcrow Yolles
MEP: Flack + Kurtz Inc.
Client: MGM Mirage Design Group
Project Area: 841,844 sqf
Project Year: 2010
Photographer: Rainer Viertlboeck