Friday, November 13, 2009
I debated what image to use atop this post. I could have shown this cool one below, from the foot of Veer Tower...
...but as a Chinese friend of mine used to say when I lived in Beijing and took his photo with his camera, "Too much sky."
I could have picked this fun one, evidence that Cirque du Soleil is in da hood:
Or certainly, there's this view of the awesome Nancy Rubins suspended-canoes sculpture that is destined to become iconically identified with the $8.5 billion, 67-acre project:
But, alas, I kept coming back -- as I predict most will -- to the heart of it all, and the heart of CityCenter is the same as the heart of everything else in Vegas: The hotel-casino. And a pretty, gleaming, shimmery thing that is, huh?
Yes, I toured CityCenter more than 10 days ago. And I apologize for not posting all of this sooner except that I had a gazillion deadlines, 21 hours of poker to observe and a gag order about internal details of Aria and Vdara that was unofficially lifted when MGM Mirage let Norm Clarke go Tweeting every last detail he saw during a tour last Friday. Kinda silly that I can't talk about the poker-card-sculpture walls for Aria's poker room when Norm gets to describe the "over-sized Elvis belt buckles cover[ing] the exterior"of Viva Elvis and the showroom's "very high proscenium" and decor that "reflects the Elvis era at Kirk Kerkorian's The International rather than contemporary."
What I don't feel comfortable doing as yet, gag order or not, is judging the place. I have some first impressions -- CityCenter does not feel as crowded when you're in it as when you view it from afar, the artwork is really pretty terrific, Aria's casino is surprisingly dark and low-ceiling'd considering how much natural light pours in all over the rest of the place, the Crystals is so massive it runs the risk of feeling empty even when thousands of people are inside and I, unlike Hunter Hillegas of RateVegas.Com, find the poker-card sculpture thing cool -- but until the place is actually inhabited, it's hard to be fair. I did find it funny that Cirque waited so long to announce the name of Viva Elvis that the casino signage just says, "Elvis Theater."
Photography wasn't permitted on anyone's tours so far inside the buildings, but there was lots to look at from the outside, too. For instance, I'd seen the 23rd-floor (right?) sky lobby of the Mandarin Oriental from the Strip side, but there's a cut-out on the other side that I believe has some relevance to the electrical and a/c systems in the building.
The circuitous roads throughout the complex gave a bit of an airport terminal feel to the front of Aria:
...and I saw the train system that goes from Bellagio to Monte Carlo is getting tested:
Here's the side of the tram station, which is up there above, under the white canopy:
Some other random vistas are below, including a close-up of the side of Veer, a shot of where part of the swoopy roofing of the Crystals attaches, I think, to the northeastern part of Aria, the front of Aria from ground level and a view to the Strip from the same location:
That last one above looms over a "pocket park," a quiet sitting area where the Henry Moore reclining lady sculpture sits. I wasn't allowed to shoot that, but it was cute.
Clearly, there's still lots left to do before the Dec. 1-16 openings of the various components:
Check out the license plate on the scooter in the parking lot of the buildings along Frank Sinatra Drive where the CityCenter peeps are operating. Appropriate, given that half the place is owned by the UAE gang, right?
What I will say is that Steve Wynn routinely talks about his places having a series of moments that affect you emotionally. Even incomplete, CityCenter has that. And more than any other new project in Vegas probably since the Mirage, what they did here will be debated. And that debate should be fun to observe.
But before we go, just a little homage. See this?
See the orange thing peeking through? No matter how many times the MGM Mirage gang denies it, they succeed with CityCenter in part if they make Bellagio less relevant, less the center of gravity. And that's just a little sad, no?