Monday, March 7, 2011

Water on the Strip

In any other setting but Las Vegas, the appearance of such an abundance of water so freely flowing in the depths of a parched desert might garner a greater level of awe and reverence. Here however, water is but another tool, not unlike the signboards and lights, manipulated to an end that is anything but the celebration of the miraculous proliferation of this life nourishing fluid.

Water on the Las Vegas strip serves primarily commercial, representational and entertainment ends. It is within these parameters and to their ends that the incorporation and manipulation of water in the design of the Las Vegas casinos should be examined.

At the extreme of the representational axis, water serves as little more then another element in the composition of the “decorated shed” as put forth by Venturi, Brown and Izenour in seminal work Learning from Las Vegas.

At the extreme of the entertainment axis, it can be viewed in the manner of the “inverted shed” in the context described by Klingmann in his book, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy.

At the extreme of the commercial axis, we might see water as simply a decorative element, called upon to serve as a backdrop to the economic activities it compliments, a natural extension of products of “placemaking” as defined by John Jerde.

It is hard to isolate the uses of water along the strip today to any of these extremes. Instead, it often lies somewhere closer to any two of these parameters. This treatise will examine four casinos on the Las Vegas strip in relation to each other through their embodiment of these parameters (Figure 1 uses a scale ranging from an extreme at 5 to a minor example at 1 for each parameter).

Figure 1

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