Sunday, November 22, 2009
Don't you just love that? That's the kind of fun stuff that gives me a thrill when I get to walk around a yet-unopened piece of new Vegas. Here's a closer look at this sign which, I'm sure, is already erected:
There it is, in one sign waiting neatly to be stood up and serve, most of CityCenter and its relationship to the Las Vegas Strip summed up in a directional.
I walked around again on Friday, my second tour in about 15 days as I finish up this weekend a major magazine piece on the project. It is impressive how much more cleaned up and polished the place looked and how many new angles I was able to see of these huge, gleaming buildings. Gleaming is a word you're going to see a lot in reference to CityCenter unless it's cloudy throughout December.
I was able to get into Mandarin Oriental for the first time to see the Sky Lobby. There was still a prohibition on taking any interior photos, but I did get some shots of its front porte cochere:
Here's Mandarin PR queen Alyssa Bushey's nifty construction helmut:
It's been said before by Hunter Hillegas of RateVegas.Com and others, but the 23rd floor Sky Lobby at Mandarin is going to be one happening bar. When I walked through, the bar staff was placing those pretty bottles of liquor on glass shelving behind the bar which, too, was in front of floor-to-ceiling windows.
I did ask whether average tourists would be allowed to just wander around the lobby and the answer was actually...not really. A reception person at the first floor will ask you what your business is. You can say you want to have a drink at the bar, but if you're not wearing appropriate attire -- read: those shorts and baseball cap I wore for my $21 burger at Trump last year won't cut it -- they can refuse you entry.
[Aside: VegasTripping.Com offered up this great link to a Mandarin Oriental spa designer's blog with images of what it will look like. It appears to be the first interiors of the space, so if you care, enjoy!]
One of the things I seek out when I'm in CityCenter are moments, angles and locations where I really feel like I could, if I squint the P-Ho out of the frame, imagine I'm really in Manhattan. There's a tall staircase that takes you down to the Mandarin's front door and check out these views looking down and up from the middle of it:
Right? You can see it, yeah? And this view straight up is arty:
There's a glass walkway across the front of CityCenter into the Crystals shopping area, and I thought these views from it were fun:
See, I'm not totally opposed to advertising on the side of buildings. That Gucci sign is hot. But it's also appropriate, not like this crap that MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren himself admitted to me in a recent interview he dislikes, too, but feels dutibound to accept (I still disagree):
One part of the exterior that is more available to see and photograph now versus two weeks ago is some of the public art pieces. For instance, here's the pocket park in the crook between Aria and Crystals where the Henry Moore sculpture sits:
In that image and the following one, we're facing the glass wall behind Aria's registration desk. Here's another view and if you click on it, you might be able to make out Maya Lin's silver -- and fantastic -- Colorado River sculpture:
In an interview I did with Nancy Rubins for this magazine piece I've got going on, she talked about how one of the reasons she wanted to do her soon-to-be-iconic boat-tree sculpture was for the chance to have it cantilever over the road. Here's the best shot I've gotten yet of how it does so:
This classic Claes Oldenburg piece is so whimsical and fun, too:
Finally, I thought the western view was worthwhile, too. As you may know, my father and I are invested in a condo unit in the left-most building you see below:
When that road opens, a flyover of I-15, it should make those buildings more accessible and, perhaps, more valuable as time goes on. Fingers crossed, anyhow.
Yes, I continue to withhold more extensive commentary about the interiors of the various buildings and I'm glad I have done so as some opinions I had two weeks ago have changed -- for better and for worse -- as things have become cleaned up, adorned, appointed and unwrapped. And until real people start flooding the property to actually use these spaces, it's hard to know if anyone's instincts about their functionality is accurate.
That said, I do hope everyone out there is enjoying and appreciating this special period we're in now. It's been a sad time with lots of bad news, and now we're in the throes of the run-up to something we won't see for a long, long time: A major opening. Whether you end up loving or hating CityCenter, I urge you to indulge in its moment. It will be over soon enough and there won't be a whole lot of Christmas Mornings like this for Las Vegas for years to come.