Bringing Urbanism to Las Vegas: The Making of CityCenter

The Las Vegas Strip is one of the world’s most recognizable destinations. With its spectacular hotels, legendary casinos and larger than life signage, the Strip occupies a singular place not only in the gaming and hospitality industries, but American culture as well. As the Strip has matured, its paradigm of free-standing, increasingly flamboyant buildings standing apart from the Strip itself has become outmoded. With the increasing value of real estate along the Strip and shifts in the hotel and gaming industries, MGM MIRAGE recognized the need to take a different approach to development, featuring a more intense and broader mix
of uses.

In developing a plan for CityCenter, EE&K introduced a new vision, rooted in a more urban and sustainable sensibility. The plan, which incorporates a diverse program including Las Vegas’ largest hotel, two boutique hotels, retail, offices and 2,400 luxury residential units, focuses on a series of high quality and dramatic public environments as well as a walkable pedestrian realm. EE&K’s vision works on both as spectacle and as small-scaled pedestrian-oriented public environments. It breaks dramatically with established norms in several ways: positioning buildings to directly address and engage the Strip; making connections to the adjacent Bellagio Hotel and leveraging the tremendous amount of investment represented in its famous fountains; and incorporating public transit.

As the largest privately financed development in U.S. history, the implementation of CityCenter has presented challenges no less monumental. Inherent in EE&K’s vision of bringing urbanism to the Strip, was the principle that CityCenter be built like a real city. The strength of that vision and EE&K’s plan accommodated multiple architects from around the world. At its opening, CityCenter promises to be a transformational model not only for Las Vegas, but for the role of gaming and entertainment in the city.