It's ostensibly an architecture review by a Pulitzer winner, and on that score several of the buildings get pretty good marks individually. But the damning conclusion is that, despite Jim Murren's vaunted city planning studies and art history minor and ongoing blah-blah theories about the project, it fails to accomplish anything that Murren has claimed it would. To wit:
That, of course, is a fancy way of saying precisely what RateVegas' Hunter Hillegas is quoted as saying in my L.A. Weekly piece from last year before CityCenter opened:
There is some other interesting stuff in Paul Goldberger's piece, namely that he rejects an idea explored in some depth on the last episode of the Vegas Gang podcast that the project ought to have been built in stages. That, Goldberger says, "would have been too restrained." He also lays much blame for the failure of Harmon on Lord Norman Foster, the architect, for an uninteresting building regardless of its construction snafus.
CityCenter's saving grace, beyond the Veer Towers which he finds cool and dramatic, is one thing almost everyone else agrees sucks: The Crystals mall.
Yeah. Because you want your malls to look like airplane hangars and feel empty and absent of activity regardless of how many people inhabit them. And Rockwell's mammoth penis really resolves that.
Still, it's an interesting take from a sophisticate who, of course, is mentally stuck in early 1990s Vegas. He spends nearly half his piece arguing CityCenter as an antidote for "theme-park Vegas" and ignoring the fact that the last themed casino, the Aladdin, opened more than nine years ago. Since then, we've seen Wynn, Encore, Palazzo, Trump, Signature, Palms Place, South Point, Suncoast, M, Aliante and Red Rock Resort. Wow, CityCenter really turned that tide!
[Top photo of CityCenter taken moments ago from the balcony at the unthemed Signature.]