Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Some quick hits on upcoming development projects in Las Vegas from the Sun.

* Some discussion on Caesars Palace and the Roman Forum / new tower development.

* The Harrah's Center Strip project is still under wraps, likely delayed due to the potential private equity take-over of the company. This potentially includes the re-development of Bally's, Imperial Palace, Harrah's Las Vegas and the Flamingo, with varying degrees of severity.

* Echelon Place is moving along.

* Station has plans for Durango Station some day.

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Read archived comments (34 so far)
December 5, 2006 8:39 PM Posted by BrianFey

I really look forward to Echelon Place, its exciting to see new money being spent on things besides condos on the north end of the strip. I would love to see Montreux, and Fountainbeau, quit talking, and start doing. I don't think these project will be anything great, but anything is better than nothing. I also won't be a bit surpised if these project never even happen. If fact I'll be more surprised if they to happen. But I just really would love to see the north end of the strip, look amazing, and get developed as nice as the south end has. As for Harrah's, its hurry up and wait. I just don't know about this company. I know they are the biggest, people in the business, but I am just not impressed with this company. Walmart is the largest retailer in the world also, but that don't make them great either. Its just amazing to me how they just sit back and do nothing. This buyout thing is a perfect example, the offer was months ago, yet they tell us shareholders nothing. We don't know if they are really considering it, or just blowing it off. They seem like they are just using it to buy themselves some time, but time for what, I have no idea?

December 8, 2006 9:37 AM Posted by mike_ch

It's worth mentioning the story in the LVBP that the people who own the Wet & Wild land are basically not going to do anything with the place, since their plans include a hotel building taller than the Sears Tower.

I'm sure the pie-in-the-sky insanity is very disappointing to the locals here. Not only was W&W the only water place in town during the summer, but it's been tagged and vandalized so much that residents are preparing to declare it a hazard to the county commission. Now that the plans have been released and they're obviously never going to happen, I hope the residents will move forward with their complaints in the coming months.

December 12, 2006 8:08 AM Posted by Mike P.

I blundered across a discussion of that proposed 1,888' condo-hotel tower at the skyscraperpage forums:

Here's a collection of renderings from the developer:

and here's another article with an interview from the LV Business press:

Kind of an interesting architectural statement. Too bad (or maybe a good thing, depending on point of view) it'll never happen.

Mike P.

December 12, 2006 11:28 AM Posted by Leonard Stern

Re: Las Vegas Tower (Milam Tower), It's really too bad that this project is more pie-in-the-sky than a potential future reality. Chris Milam simply doesn't have the track record by himself to pull off a project of this magnitude without multiple joint venture partners who have 'considerable' resources, although he previously did partner with Morton on the now defunct Hard Rock proposed high-rise condo component. In addition, there are insurrmountable obstacles such as the 1,888' height to overcome, and that won't be easy. His biggest problem will be financing which will easily exceed $5B by the time this thing even comes to fruition. If it gets approved by the commission, the FAA will NEVER approve its current height and Nellis AFB will continue to fight it tooth and nail). To Milam's credit, however, was his decision to retain one of the nation's most prestigious architectural firms for the tower, SOM/Chicago, which takes obvious design cues from their own Burj Dubai Tower, now under construction, and the world's tallest when complete. They [SOM] did a spectacular job designing the Las Vegas Tower, the only thing I cannot understand is why Milam would chose Paul Steeman to design the podium! Can you imagine such a stellar tower design married to a low rise podium that will most probably look like Steelman's usual fare (i.e. Montreaux)? What a shame to mar such an inspirational design. Milam needs to retain SOM/Chicago in order to design the whole project, although RTKL are strong at retail. If Ivana failed (also due to inexperienced developers), and it eventually had substantial pre-sales to actually be able to obtain financing, only if that had happened two years earlier before spiraling construction costs made it impossible to build, this projcet unfortunately seems destined to become just another pipe dream. We desperately need more architects like SOM to design really "great" progressive architecture here in Las Vegas. I found it rather unusual that MGM/MIRAGE had not decided to include SOM by participating in the design of CityCenter.

December 12, 2006 1:12 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

RE: LAS VEGAS TOWER, The following is from yesterday's Skyscrapercity Forums. It was posted by "cmilam" (judging from the EXTENSIVE details revealed regarding this previously secret project, the post appears to having been genuinely submitted by Milam hinself. Looks like Milam has already spent a great deal of preparatory resources so far by retaining SOM and the project timeline appears to be further along than anyone had expected. The fact that Adrian Smith (SOM/Chicago) designed this tower adds further cachet to this world-class project. I also understand from other sources that the former Wet'n Wild site is 'strategically' located in a zone within the county to where, technically, the height issues might actually be circumvented. Remember what I have been saying all along concerning the importance of world-class "starchitects'" design contribution to the success of future mega-projects as Las Vegas evolves into its next new era which must now include more architecturally sophisticated offerings that the general public will ultimately expect + demand. (If Steve plans on competing, purely from a future design perspective, he really better start paying some serious attention to this obvious trend in disbanding his substandard in-house design division (WD+D) and swallow his pride in order to bring on board a team of truly first class independent designers + architects (like SOM, etc.) that other competitors are beginning to now endorse).

"Originally Posted by cmilam
The proper name of the project is The Las Vegas Tower (LVT). The project is located at 2600 Las Vegas Blvd. South in Clark County, Nevada (the resort corridor is not in the City of Las Vegas proper). The site was once commonly known as Wet 'N Wild. LVT is a straight hotel-casino. However, the keys/units have been designed, entitled and will be constructed as resort-condominiums to provide for the possibility of one day selling units in the building if market conditions once again permit.

The developer is International Development Management (IDM) based in Austin, Texas. The owner (of LVT and IDM) is Christopher F. Milam.

The height of the crown is 1,888' AGL. LVT will be the tallest building in the US and the tallest hotel in the World. The architect of the tower component is Adrian Smith of SOM (Chicago) and of the podium is Paul Steelman of PSDG (Las Vegas). The senior structural engineer is Bill Baker of SOM (Chicago). Hotel room ID and retail ID are RTKL (variously the Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago offices; led by Daun St. Amand in LA).

Structurally, LVT is modeled on the Burj Dubai (BD). It has the same architect (SOM), structural engineer (SOM), MEP engineer (F&K), fire & life safety consultant (RJ) cost consultant (F&G), wind tunnel consultant (RWDI), and many others. It is a tripod, which is the most efficient structural shape for a super-tall building. The similarities have already been noted to BD in the typical level plans. This allows the maximization of height with minimum penalty for structural weight/cost. It is also rigid with respect to both wind and seismic effects. Wind is the controlling force in the case of LVT. The LVT structure is composite steel and concrete for reasons of both speed and cost (whereas BD is all concrete). For a hotel/residential building, this shape also maximizes curtian wall area, minimizes view conflicts, and minimizes walking distances for guests. Almost all the resort hotels in Las Vegas are Y shaped (look at the various permutations on Google Earth). In a distant-relative way, LVT is the same for different reasons (LVT was driven by the need for structural efficiency). It's a happy circumstance that this shape is also the best for hotel/residential buildings from the user/occupants perspective.

LVT is 67% efficient top to bottom. A standard-height hotel tower would typically be 70%. LVT's efficiency (excellent for a tall building) was made possible by maintaining an economic aspect ratio (building height to total mass). BD, although elegant, is very inefficient in it's top 80 floors. It's non-commercial as a stand-alone project. The owners have the financial resources and a greater regional objective. LVT is a stand-alone investment and therefore must be physcially (and therfore economically) efficient. That being the primary variable to solve for, the consequence of maintaining a high on-floor efficiency at 1888' is a tower of 4.5 million gross square feet containing 3,975 rooms (also constrained by the owner so that 80% of all units had to be 620 net/salable square feet or less). In most markets a hotel with 400 rooms would be large. On the Las Vegas Strip, a hotel of 4,000 rooms is an appropriate size for a variety of reasons related to market demand, land cost and competitiveness. LVT therefore makes good economic sense in Las Vegas, and potentially Manhattan, but unlikely elsewhere in the US. It cannot be smaller (in total mass) and still be efficient, at nearly 2,000' AGL. Such are the constraints of the current state of the art.

As an aside, the height was kept below 2,000' to avoid compound FAA and FCC issues. There was no possibility to reach the height of BD (2,640' AGL = one-half mile) and remain efficient (we tried and it generated 6,500 appropriately sized keys) so a relavant height below 2,000' but above the Freedom Tower's 1,776' was selected. 1,888 is the year the Washington Monument was finally opened to the public, at that time the tallest made made structure in the world. Freedom Tower, in its third incarnation (the one that's being built) was designed by David Childs of SOM's New York office. Anyone familiar with the industry would also know the sub-text here; the unspoken competition between these two primary offices of the America's most storied architectural firm.

Internally, LVT can be thought of as being organized as three hotels stacked on top of each other. There are three double-height sky lobbies, each of which are served from the base by high-speed double-deck cabs. Check-in occurs at each of the sky lobby levels, not at the base (which has a parallel double mezz confirguration. The sky lobbies, represented by bands around the tower, sit above, and phycially adjacent to, the MEP floors. These MEP floors contain the elevator overrides for the stacks below, along with all MEP equipment for the stack.

Each sky lobby serves approximately 60 floors with five lower and five upper-zone single-cab elevators serving approximately 30 floors each. This organization allows the express elevators to drop away above the sky lobby they serve, and for the locals to share the same shafts in each of the three tiers (so there are three tiers, containing two zones each, for a total of six zones). This is an extremely efficient organization with reduces the core size to about 40% of what it would otherwise be. There are also two express double-deck cabs which serve the observation deck and roof restaurant, and two which stop at each sky lobby and serve the pool deck (roof of the podium). All this courtesy of Jim Fortune at Fortune Consulting (rocket scientists).

While probably less interesting to readers of this forum, the podium is also a work of art, both architecturally and economically. The podium consists of two primary elements, a large parking garage along the northern property line, and an open-plan casino/retail building along the southern property line. These two structures come together in the middle of the site, the divisor being the sheer walls coming down from the tower above. The casino, restaurant, retail and other front of house (FOH) uses are south of the tower, and all back of house (BOH) functions are north of the tower. All BOH functions roll seemlessly into the relatively inexpensive garage structure, while all FOH functions are contained in the areas south of the tower sheer walls in a relatively expensive structure. The ground floor is primarily casino, restaurants and high-end retail. The mezzanine and second floor is devoted to retail and supporting food service. The roof of the podium contains the resort pools. This organization is most similar conceptually to the Venetian. The large foot-print clear-span space required for the showroom and ballroom is on top of the garage. Placing them here eliminated any need to transfer loads, as the garage structure is already heavily stressed. The showroom and ballroom are on opposite ends, where both can be easily and effectively served by the required mass exit staircases down the outside garage walls and on to the street. The showroom and ballroom co-joint at TV and music recording studios which all share the same BOH areas and equipment; all courtesy of Patrick Berge at Sceno Plus in Montreal (rock stars).

Finally, at the groundplane, there are three large porte cochere's, one on the Strip, one on Paradise, and one on a new east-west road connecting the Strip to Paradise along the southern site boundary. The Strip porte cochere will primarily serve the casino, the southern porte cochere will primarily serve guests entering and leaving the hotel room tower, and the Paradise port cochere will primarily serve for quick access to the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) which is two blocks to the south. LVT will also be directly connected to the Las Vegas Monorail with the intent of making the LVCC a direct extension of LVT. Truck and servicing all occurs along the base of the garage wall (northern property line).

Regarding entitlements, LVT is located just north of the northern limit of the circling approach airspace at McCarran Airport. This airspace is the primary limiter of height along the Strip and does not impact LVT. There are other procedure-segments which are affected but those issues are not material and can be mitigated. LVT is, in a sense, in the zone of the Stratosphere. Importantly LVT is south of Sahara Ave. The Stratosphere is several blocks north of Sahara and as such is in a much less desirable economic area, and is within the City of Las Vegas proper. LVT is either physically adjacent to or in the immediate vicitnity of the four Turnberry Residence Towers, Fontainebleau, Montreaux, Echelon, Sky, Hilton Resort Residences, Allure, The Sahara, the two Turnberry Towers, and the Hilton Hotel. These are all projects which are either completed, underway or otherwise funded and represent $10 billion in new resort investment, surrounding, but exclusive of LVT itself, which will cost approximately $4.8 billion to deliver (inclusive of land and all softs) - about $1,250,000 per room.

The more development oriented reader will probably have already noted that there is no economic demand for a five-star resort of this scale north of Sahara Ave. or east or west of the Strip. And there is no possibility to construct a building like LVT further south due to the circling approach airspace cap. And there is, outside of possbilty Manhattan, little ability to activate the necessary capital due to the number of rooms created, which is derivative of maintaining an econcomic aspect ratio at this height. Therefore, in a very real sense, there is about a one-square mile area in all of the US where a tall building like this is achievable. And here it is. The market at work...

Design started on LVT in Jan of 2006 and is currently in advanced SD. DD will be completed by mid-2007 and initial CD packages for the foundation will be issued in the Fall of 2007. Construction of the foundations will start in the 4th quarter of 2007. Completion is expected in the 4th quarter of 2011."

December 12, 2006 3:27 PM Posted by mike_ch

The people on SkyscraperForums make me sad. A large majority of them seem to just seem to get off on total building height and have lack a lot in knowledge. It's like 60% in that thread is just "BUILD IT CMON PLZ" from people who have probably never been to Vegas.

This guy is like the Moon Resort guy. He thinks the city has larger potential than it can really accommodate for him. Traffic alone is terrible in that region. Furthermore, there's no need to stack 4,000 rooms on top of a small footprint like that. Room towers excessively close to the Strip are considered bad fashion anyway, hence why Stardust is nuking a perfectly acceptable 15 year old building.

The good news is that there's probably a developer in China or something who will want to purchase his design and apply it to an office tower.

December 12, 2006 5:04 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

mike_ch, Michael Henderson (the developer behind the MOON Resort), was never really taken seriously from the very start by anyone in the industry. If I recall correctly, he originally proposed this pie-in-the-sky project for Las Vegas, then announced that it would be built in the U.A.E. or Dubai, and finally made a public disclosure that included an animated website which confirmed The Moon Resort would end up being constructed in the Bahamas with the approval/support of the Bahamian government. One only needs to research Henderson's past history (I think he was first credited with launching Lasik-Laser Eye Surgery in Canada) and then he subsequently was embroiled in lawsuits over the technology. This guy had absolutely no experience whatsoever in building what would amount to a $10B development, despite all of the many recognoized, highly respected "team members" that he reportedly assembled + listed as participatory consultants on the Moon Resort website. From what I understand, he did actually spend over $1M in constructing the many presentation scale models, + numerous schematic renderings for the ptoject.

December 12, 2006 6:25 PM Posted by charlie

I really hope they build the LVT, it is bold and most iconic. This would cause a major change in at least one establishment in Las Vegas. Architecture you say? Maybe. I'm talking about golf, or Scotland they call it gof, without the 'L'. In the foothills, all putts will now break towards the LST, not the Stratosphere.

Sure has been a lot of discussion about the future of Vegas in the past few days. Here's my latest thoughts...I think Wynn, CC and Echelon are the future of Vegas - ALMOST. Just visiting Wynn, I like it, and I love it that its small. But its not small enough, and at the same time, its not nearly big enough. Here's what I'm getting at. Papa Stern created and Wynn perfected the integrated megaresort. We have now seen this in 14 different flavors. What we haven't seen is the integrated multiresort. This may be Las Vegas perfection/nirvana, something all you guys can agree upon. OK, back to my thoughts on Wynn, CC and Echelon.

Wynn comes close, with almost 2 unique hotel experiences, but the public area is ubiquitous. And the hotel experiences are not truly unique. If you had 3 unique hotels and 3 smaller, unique casino/public areas (with Encore) you've got it. CC and Echelon, have the right approach with multiple hotels, but only 1 giant casino. However, I'm not sure if they will essentially partition the big hotel or make it one ubiquitous property.

When you sum it all toghether, what does the visitor want in Vegas:
1. Intimacy/Ease of Use
2. Variety
3. Scale (uniquely Vegas, has to be)
4. Integration, both physically and commercially (I don't want to have to leave the company I'm playing with and the derived benefits, to change the overall environment/experience).

Therefore, you need a collection of 500-1500 room hotel/casinos that are fully integrated.

December 12, 2006 7:39 PM Posted by John

Well, what I haven't been able to understand, is how the Burj Dubai looks like Las Vegas Tower. I mean, when I look at the Burj, through the models and renderings that I have seen, I see an attractive multi-tiered building, but when I look at Las Vegas Tower, all I see is a buliding that looks almost too big for its small parcel of land, and a tower that looks like it belongs in one of the more questionable shops in the Las Vegas area. I'm not saying that it is an ugly building, but I personally would like to see something a little more the the Burj Al-Arab. However, its more or less decided that this project won't happen, so there's no real use making a huge deal out of it. However, it should be an interesting note, that wasn't mentioned above, I believe, is that SOM isn't the only firm involved in the project. Paul Steelman's company was also involved as well. That is another thing, I've seen two "Steelman" projects, that I have had serious doubts about, Las Vegas Tower being one of them. Also, I still and probably always will have doubts about Montreux. I still think that the project won't ever really happen, and that the most likely outcome will be the joint venture between Australia's PBL and Wynn.

December 12, 2006 8:14 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

charlie, it is a little too early in the SD + DD process for me to personally be able to comment on Echelon Place since details on this project have been held very close to the vest by Boyd. Forget about my father "Papa Stern's" contribution, that was in the past and while his work resulted in what evolved into a major transition in Las Vegas architecture, it no longer has any significance on the future impact of gaming hospitality design + the mega-resorts proposed here, more importantly, Wynn's continued stubborness by insisting on staying involved in the micromanagement involving the design process in each + every aspect of his properties, will likewise prove itself to be equally insignificant, and will ultimately lead to his failure unless he takes the initiative now to remove himself from this process completely. "Intimacy" + the other criteria you refer to are no longer a consideration as is currently represented in the dwindling 'single' mega-resort model, but the future clearly lies in development of massive multi-integrated properties that can offer the ultimate guest experience by including several 400-500 room "boutique" hotels contained within the same venue (CityCenter, Echelon, possibly Harrah's center Strip development, etc.) Steve will find himself struggling in an attempt to try and keep up with [his] formidable competition which he will clearly be facing from both Adelson + Kerkorian since they are now about to create a serious threat to Wynn's long term plans. Some new inforamtion that I just received today regarding the Las Vegas (Milam) Tower, I happen to have several contacts at SOM/Chicago and they have informed me that their office has been "actively" + consistently working on this project effective the beginning of this year. I understand that SOM/Chicago will also be proceeding beyond the (DD) design development phase and will be preparing construction documents for the tower in the timeframe that I previously reported. Adrian Smith, one of THE senior SOM/Chicago partners responsible for that office's most prolific projcets over the past several decades, including Burj Dubai + the Las Vegas (Milam) Tower is departing the firm as a result of SOM's mandatory retirement policy of age 65 in order to establish a competing architectural firm of is own at age 62. I personally met with Adrian Smith as well as several of the other senior partners back in 1986 when they [SOM/Chicago] were negotiating the purchase/absorption of my own company. This news gives me renewed confidence + optimisim in the LVT project. Normally I would be pessimistic given the obvious hurdles of this thing succeeding.

December 12, 2006 8:34 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

John, The basic similarity between LVT to Burj Dubai lies in the evident symmetrical footprint of the [LVT] tower, particularly at its base. Although Dubai Tower has alternating floor plate patterns and setbacks as it ascends in height (being substantially taller), it was Smith's intention in the design of Dubai Tower (Burj Dubai) to replicate a flower pattern that represented some sort of significance to Islamic culture. As I reported earlier, Milam retained Steelman for the entire podium design (big mistake IMO) and RTKL for the reatil component. I agree that Dubai Tower is more asymmetrical than LVT, but the design influence apparently extends to include various curtain wall details with Dubai Tower as well according to my sources at SOM/Chicago.

December 12, 2006 9:28 PM Posted by mike_ch

"Obvious hurdles" is an understatement. This is even closer to McCarran than Stratosphere, and of course know about their shelved extension. I also don't see it being commercially viable to most of the nation due to fears of terrorism et al (who wants to sleep on the roof of the Sears Tower in an earthquake zone? Exactly.)

Anyway... Leonard, what studies have been done to prove that people want "several 400-500 room "boutique" hotels contained within the same venue"? I haven't been able to figure out exactly what the appeal is to that design. In fact, to me it just sounds like a lot more walking, and probably a fair amount more of it outside.

December 12, 2006 9:56 PM Posted by mike_ch

Minor updates:

Revolution's opening date was pushed back a week from the 15th to the 22nd.

Want a preview of MGM's soon-to-launch redesign of Bellagio's web site?

December 12, 2006 10:07 PM Posted by Hunter

I'm curious if someone at MGM Mirage indicated that the above URL is part of a new Bellagio site?

I ask because they showed that to me as part of the affiliate program and told me that it was a special promo page for us affiliates to use to help sell room inventory... Plus it's not a complete site...

I'd be interested (and surprised) to hear it was a future version of

December 12, 2006 10:33 PM Posted by mike_ch

Hmm. No, it's not a complete site, but I did use the word 'preview' after all. Probably to call it a peek is more accurate. It's most accurate to say I expect elements there to be recycled down the road. :)

December 12, 2006 10:34 PM Posted by mike_ch

Since there's no way to edit comments here, I'll addendum and say that I may have jumped the gun by saying changes will appear 'soon.'

December 12, 2006 10:34 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised to see a new site that had a similar look and feel.

December 12, 2006 10:56 PM Posted by Hunter

Since all I do is architect and build Web applications all day (well, at least most of the day), I see a lot of Web sites and thus I see a lot of bad Web sites.

I've never been impressed with any casino Web site that I've seen, though the recent re-design comes closer in terms of usability than most others.

Some, like, totally ignore the way the Web is supposed to work and instead of proving us linkable elements we get something akin to a commercial in a locked box with their all-Flash site. While it can sometimes be pretty, that site in particular totally fails in usability.

Having all the hotel sites go to the Flash-based booking mechanism provided by is, I think, something good when it comes to ease-of-use. Though an AJAX based form could provide the same responsiveness and richness that Flash does without the plug-in, it's still better than being caught in the request-response loop just to see if a room is available.

These sites could just be so much better and I don't just mean better looking (though that wouldn't be bad). They should *all* have menus for all restaurants (this is getting better), they should all have something akin to Harrah's slot finder and let us search the database of games, and how about more live web cams and other 'neat' things.

I know these guys have a ton of interesting info in their databases (like the slot inventory) that they could share if they were so inclined. Instead we get an electronic version of their brochure.

The less than impressive state of their sites always surprises me.

December 13, 2006 1:37 AM Posted by mike_ch

Eh, to an extent the web site is something someone is going to look at once, book or not, and then likely never see again.

As someone who can get to the Strip in about an hour, I appreciate having the menus available but most of them don't include prices anyway. I go to a lot just because their site has a fair restaurant directory and even buffet prices. Imagine that!

Likewise, I'd think few people other than locals get much out of the slot finder, as neat as it is.

The Venetian's web site is getting better, although with the growing number of restaurants opening in the Canal mall I wish they'd list that alongside their hotel dining options instead of separately on the mall's mini-site.

My biggest pet peeve is how all the reservation links open up in a pop up window, and in the case of MGM they never seem to quite fit the dimensions of the pop-up they spawn. Venetian (again) wins it for reservations IMO, as their link opens up in the same page and pictures, stats, and floorplan appear alongside the rates. OTOH, the page after that where you enter your information shows up badly in Firefox.

December 13, 2006 12:52 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

mike_ch: The Stratosphere Tower is only a few blocks north of the Wet'n Wild site (although the Strat is located within the city of Las Vegas proper as opposed to the county). Apparently the LVT site falls within a specific northern boundary "zone" in the county that allows it to be considered for approval of a far greater overall height than any of the sites south of the former Wet'n Wild property. Milam has apparently retained JDA Aviation Technology Solutions, acclaimed experts at dealing with FAA height restrictions/regulations in order to attempt to gain approval. The County Commissioners are NOT legally bound or required to follow FAA approval/recommendations on allowable building height, they might choose to follow the position that the city has adopted by approving many super-tall projects in the past which glaringly exceed the FAA recommendations (Ivana/The Summit Tower is a perfect example which came in at somewhere under 1,000' if I recall correctly). Furthermore, Icahn is apparently considering a proposal seeking to INCREASE the existing height of the Stratosphere Tower from what I have been told. Here is the link to JDA:

December 13, 2006 3:42 PM Posted by mike_ch

I'm afraid that the King didn't get the full flavor of my post. My point is that the size of 1.5 Stratospheres that's even closer to the airport is not going to be met warmly by the government, FAA or no.

Clark County operates McCarran so they're certainly the last organization that wants to put a supertall building nearby it.

Icahn can consider whatever he wants, he still has to overcome City Hall to do it and his batting record VS Mayor Goodman has been pretty abysmal.

December 15, 2006 10:43 AM Posted by Chris

In regards to LVT, from a hotel-casino business standpoint, what is the economic reasoning behind stacking all your hotel rooms directly on top of one another like this? Service takes longer to reach the higher floors, so once the curtains are closed, what's the benefit to having the rooms up there? Repeat business and profitability over the long run are based on the amenities and the operation inside a resort, not on how well you can see the other resorts through your window.

Architechture and curb appeal of a resort are definitely important and worth investing in, but you have to draw the line somewhere and then focus on developing the actual revenue-generating aspects of your property. The LVT people have a lot to say about their building, but they seem to have very little to say about what they intend to put inside it to make it profitable.

So while it may be an interesting example of theoretical architechture, I would ask - and I assume potential investors will ask as well - why actually build and operate this as a Las Vegas resort?

December 15, 2006 2:53 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Chris: This [Milam/LVT] tower is much more than "theoretical" as you might think, my information comes from sources who are the architects themselves. First of all, as with Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower) currently under construction, the total, final height of that tower upon completion (its now up to around 90 floors already) is being kept a closely guarded secret, but I am told to "expect" that it will end up being a whopping 180 floors, (160+ at the absolute minimum). Since this will be the world's tallest inhabitable structure, Burj Dubai MUST incorporate a completely new elevator design system which apparently is going to be two to three times faster than the conventional high rise elevator systems commonly used today. I understand that it will use some type of state-of-the-art vertical mag-lev type track system which results in extremely smooth performance heretofore never achieved, it is both efficient and very, very fast, eliminating the need for multiple express elevators and transitional crossover sky lobbies like the conventional system used in the Sears Tower + other supertalls decades ago. It has also been rumored, but I still cannot confirm this, that the elevator system design for Dubai Tower might be a 'double decker' style, utilizing a simultaneous two-floor loading configuration being totally computer controlled as are ALL aspects of the building's infrastructure + mechanical services. Burj Dubai, and other buildings like LVT are truly 21st century structures which will beneift from the latest in today's + tomorrow's technology, that is what makes these type of architectural statements so exciting. The elevator, mechanical, HVAC, and other operational systems that typically plague supertalls will NOT become major issues with this building. Approvals + financing are what will determine whether or not it becomes a reality. Las Vegas NOW must begin the process allowing for its future projects + the ability to be able to compete with the world-class architecture being developed in cities like Dubai + Shanghai. Remember that McCarran has reached its capacity when they complete the latest, and last terminal building. There will be a brand new regional airport built south of Las Vegas within the next ten yeras or less, paving way for many more supertalls like this actually getting built. CityCenter will become the pioneer/benchmark for the next future generation of 21st century architecture in Las Vegas. That is why proposals like LVT are so important + significant in the city's evolution towards achieving the next level standard in architectural design sophistication...

December 15, 2006 5:58 PM Posted by John

Well, from the cross-section plans that have been posted on Skyscrapercity, Las Vegas Tower, will use the more conventional cross over Sky Lobbies, periodically placed through out the building, so I can see a more vaild argument from Chris, about delays in terms of service facilities, etc.

Also, while the supertall tower structure may be attractive, the rest of the site plan, is rather ugly, especially the podium. So, in addition to the hurdles that Milam has to overcome with financing, etc., he really has a rather ugly casino podium.

December 15, 2006 8:26 PM Posted by mike_ch

This city barely has enough infrastructure for the resorts it already has, as anyone who has smelled the sewer stench at the corner of Spring Mountain and LVB can attest to. Or anyone that has tried to commute from the tourist corridor to one of the residential suburbs, etc.

December 15, 2006 8:35 PM Posted by Chris

I can accept that the tower can be designed to a point of efficiency where nothing is lost due to the height, but again - what is gained?

Most traditional skyscrapers and the supertalls of tomorrow are placed in very dense urban areas where office and residential space can be leased/sold at a premium, which makes the economics of an expensive and highly specialized vertical building profitable. Unlike in places like Tokyo or Manhattan, profitability from a building on the Vegas Strip does come from having a high ratio of square footage to acreage.

Places like Taipei, Dubai, and Kuala Lumpur can also make the argument that an iconic building in their city's economic center will attract additional investment. Vegas however already has it's icon - "The Strip" itself. Adding a 2,000 ft building to it is not going to make it that much more well-known than it already is, especially if the only thing in the building is another few thousand hotel rooms.

So, if the business model is simply "hotel rooms and/or condotel units over a casino-dining-retail-spa low-rise on the Vegas strip", I can't understand what makes it worth the trouble to build the rooms in such a tall, narrow vertical tower. Until I hear an explanation of how the height and design benefits the business inside it, this will be just be another Stratosphere to me, arbitrarily tall for no other reason than to be able to shout "IT'S REALLY TALL!" and sell $12 elevator rides to tourists.

December 16, 2006 10:44 AM Posted by Leonard Stern

John: You cannot go by the conceptual drawings which have been previously posted/released. Those sections (the ones that were posted on Skyscrapercity) are very early concept schematic design drawings and do not reflect the current evolution for the project, from what I have been told. Thus far those CAD generated renderings, site plan , sections, etc. are all in the very basic schematic phase and only represent the initial concept. From what I understand, there apparently have been some major changes to the building's services infrastructure since then as the architect's begin the process of the design development phase. Notice also that they have not released any detailed exterior curtain wall elevations representing glazing selection, spandrel + mullion materials, etc. since the schematic phase is only meant to portray a conceptual design "direction". I have been trying to find out a lot more details on LVT but everyone at SOM is more tight-lipped than usual reagrding the specifics beyond what I have already reported. For once John, I actually AGREE with you regarding the podium design. Although still in the early schematic stage, Steelman's concept seems incongruous with SOM's tower, and as I already mentioned here before, I don't understand why Milam elected to retain Steelman for the design of all the public spaces, casino level component + entire podium of the project in the first place. SOM and The Steelman Group represent diametrically opposed design philosophies entirely.

December 16, 2006 4:20 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

John, I failed to mention in my earlier post that the schematic tower section drawing for the LVT as posted on SkyscraperCity which you refer to, clearly indicates that the express elevators (as depicted in the floor plans) each appear to serve the four "dedicated" sections of the tower directly, based upon the varying floor plates + the central (elevator/services) core. Since the massing + form of this building gradually tapers as it vertically ascends, alternately the floor plates decrease in footprint size, therefore the number of elevators required to service the upper floors become exponentially reduced. The three Sky Lobbies as designated in the schematic section are not intended for use as transitional floors like many older high rise towers approaching or exceeding 100 floors (an example being the former WTC towers where both twin structures consisted of what amounted to a perfect square floor plate, with outboard structural columns contained within the exterior skin + the central core, as a result of this design, there would have been be no possible way for the elevator system to be able to service the entire 110+ storey building without the necessity of multiple transitional sky lobbies required to be used as crossover points.) What is most significant, from a design perspective, in LVT that makes it so ingenious is the fact that one can literally take any of the four 'dedicated' express elevators from the ground level to the topmost useable floor, that being the restaurant, non-stop! You need to realize that we are taking about a tower, based on the proposed height, which will amount to something like 160 floors! The 'schematic' section drawing also does not depict the location/configuration of the tower elevator shafts, but instead, serves only to demonstrate the 'use designation' + allocation for the hotel, sky lobby, restaurant features, etc. which are intended to become an integral part of the tower composition. I actually was able to make an informed comparison between LVT and the many similarities that are obviously shared or borrowed from (Adrian Smith's) design for Burj Dubai. LVT + Burj Dubai BOTH utilize similar design concepts in that they incorporate the tri-form, Y-shaped floor plate configuration containing a central core [Gee, I wonder who first pioneered this original concept almost forty years ago? :-)]
Both Burj Dubai + LVT clearly follow similar structural directives in that they both appear to utilize a central load-bearing shear wall located within each respective tri-wing that would effectively eliminate the use of any internal structural columns.

December 16, 2006 9:09 PM Posted by mike_ch

I can't speak for John, but I will share in his sentiment when I say that I don't give a rat's patoot how tall it is or how difficult it is to plan for something so large until I hear what economic benefit there is.

Again, the need for a tall building like this is not seen. 'The Strip' does not have literal boundaires, the area is not completely lacking for space and certainly the most developed areas (that stretching from Circus-Circus to Mandalay) have such traffic and utility challenges facing it that the last thing it needs is high-density supertall buildings holding even more rooms on a piece of property than it currently does now.

December 24, 2006 4:48 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Check out this article appearing in today's 'Sun' regarding the winners +
losers in the gaming industry for '06. Clearly they consider Las Vegas
Sands + Adelson as the undisputed winner/leader of all the operators. Had
it not been for Wynn Resorts' $900M concession sale in Macau, WYNN would
clearly have been listed in the "loser" column. This is exactly what I have
been saying all along regarding LVS' incredible success, they indeed have
had a stellar year with the momentum expected to continue.

December 24, 2006 4:57 PM Posted by John

There's no doubting that LVS has had a stellar year, and they'll more than likely going to have an even more stellar year, next year. However, saying that WYNN would be in the losing column, without the sub concession, couldn't be anymore incorrect. Notice, that Wynn is the only major strip operator, to open a luxury Macau resort/casino. That is why Wynn has been listed on the "winner's of the year" column. Saying that, I do realize that LVS will make it as the top winner, next year, considering that are about to open that prison of a casino, otherwise known as the Venetian Macao and they plan on opening Palazzo, as big of a stretch as that may be.

March 15, 2007 7:17 AM Posted by Hunter

The folks with the 1,888 foot tower are at it again, trying to get their permits:

Funny how their entitiy is called 'Sahara Las Vegas Corp'. When I first saw it I thought it was a plan for that site.

April 18, 2007 11:58 AM Posted by Leonard Stern

RE: Milam/LVT, check out the updated elevation on SSP for the LVT. It closely represents similar exterior DD drawsings from SOM/Chicago that I have previously seen. It certainly makes the Strat look like a mere bump on a log by comparison:

April 18, 2007 6:53 PM Posted by charlie

I agree w/ you 100% on this one Leonard...the LVT is just awesome. It would be really cool to look out from Red Rock or Green Valley and see something eye level.

It would be great if in 10 years the Strat tower was knocked down (just how would they do this?)