Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

June 19, 2007

Boyd Breaks Ground on Echelon Place

Posted by Hunter

Boyd Gaming broke ground on Echelon Place, the complex that will sit where the Stardust did for 50 years.

David's got some good coverage and it's also been all over the 'Net today.

You guys excited about Echelon? After seeing Borgata in AC, I can say that Boyd has it in 'em. Could be great.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


Read archived comments (28 so far)
June 19, 2007 9:30 PM Posted by Mark D

Here's a photo of the site I shot about a week ago.

June 19, 2007 10:43 PM Posted by Tom M

OK lets begin the debate. I am not an insider or in anyway knowledgeable about the "best" in architects or designers so what does everyone think about the design team that has been put together for Echelon Place.

June 20, 2007 1:31 AM Posted by mike_ch

To me this is the second most interesting project on the books behind Fontainebleau. I don't really care about the design as much as I am eventually visiting it, as Boyd has done an alright job thus far and I want to see who they plan to go after, as well as all this planned "tribute" to Stardust that he's mentioned in interviews.

I guess what I'm saying is that I really won't care too much watching this one get constructed (it's north of my winter radar range) but will want to go in on the first day if I'm still here.

June 20, 2007 5:25 AM Posted by detroit1051

Now that we have a new, main topic for Echelon, let me see if I can bring over several comments that Charlie and I made:

What's the opinion of you more knowledgeable bloggers on Chad Oppenheim, Klai Juba, Marcel Wanders, Piet Boon and Cagley and Tanner? Is Boyd/Morgans Hotels going to give us a first class Echelon Place?
I'll check out Oppenheim's work next time I drive to Miami.
Posted by: detroit1051 on June 19, 2007 8:06 AM

Comprehensive Echelon site, but it takes a lot of clicks to see everything.
Posted by: detroit1051 on June 19, 2007 1:19 PM


Something about Echelon seems that it will be just right...more approachable than CityCenter...not the massive size and lack of integration. I also favor the design much more than Wynn...not so much "Wynnmsy" or less "Wynnmsical" the same time, you feel that Boyd will treat as a real, valued patron of Echelon (similar to Wynn)..and not a number.
Posted by: charlie on June 19, 2007 7:39 PM

June 20, 2007 8:34 AM Posted by Kevin

I personally cannot wait, even though the sale of Barbary Coast contributed to help build this...

Should be a pretty nice spot!

June 20, 2007 9:39 AM Posted by Mark D

Why is the Shangri-La tower stuck in the back in the shadow of the main tower?

June 20, 2007 11:52 AM Posted by detroit1051

Echelon's main theater will have 4,000 seats. Are there any other venues that large in Las Vegas (aside from MGM Grand Garden)? How many seats does the Colosseum at Caesars have?

June 20, 2007 11:55 AM Posted by Hunter

I believe the Colosseum is ~4,000... The Mandalay Events Center is also about 4,000.

Aladdin's Theater for the Performing Arts is ~2,000 IIRC.

June 20, 2007 1:05 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Boyd's release today of significantly more detailed renderings for Echelon are really disappointing. It's an obvious attempt to try + create an extremely dense high rise multi-use development mimicking CityCenter by commissioning multiple architects who simply do NOT collectively possess the level of design sophistication/achievement/talent or credentials reflected in the carefully selected CityCenter design team. The Echelon podium looks like a glorified commercial bank entrance. The site development, including the incongruous positioning of the ancillary towers, lacks fluidity + is downright disorganized. To anyone familiar with the design of high end resort projects, one would never believe that this project was designed, developed + actually conceived from a completely clean slate! Considering the alreday escalated increase in construction costs, expect the final as-built results to be nothing more than an architecturally challenged, super monstrous medicore "commercial" level development with even more cost-cutting expected. I am, however, extremely optimistic to see what Kerzner decides to do with the north Strip property. Perhaps a 3-4,000 room version of the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas? MGM/Mirage has entered into what could actually turn out to be one of the BEST deals ever by any operator. A 50% ownership stake in the project simply by providing the land + leaving the design/construction development costs plus the tedious headaches associated with building a project of this magnitude the sole responsibility of Kerzner International, who has already proven themselves by achieving a tremendously positive track record. Since this will be [their] first foray in the Las Vegas market, expect a no-holes-barred exicting project - "Atlantis Resort Las Vegas" maybe?

June 20, 2007 1:25 PM Posted by mike_ch

Regarding the 4,000 seat arena, Wikipedia says the Mandalay arena is 12,000 seats (and MGM 17,000) but I don't know what configuration they're using there. How many seats often depends on the type of event being held, which is why pro wrestling often squeezes 50,000-80,000 people in a football stadium.

Keep in mind that Wikipedia isn't an always-correct bastion of knowledge, the only way to know for sure would be to do more research or call up and ask, I guess.

Boyd also owns the Orleans Arena which Wikipedia says is 9500 seats. It's been successful at running community events like local minor league sports games, the travelling circus and ice shows, the school district's graduation ceremonies, etc. It would make sense that they would want to bring that size venue with more hype-worthy events to the Strip.

June 20, 2007 1:30 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, duh - I was thinking (and meaning to write) that they are both over 4,000 - I've been to shows in both and they are way bigger than 4,000 seats.

June 20, 2007 1:43 PM Posted by Tom M

Well Leonard, I have to wonder what you see in City Center design wise that is absent in Echelon. Both of them look like commercial office building/developments rather than an interesting Strip resort. In fact, I would say most of your comments on Echelon could be directed at City Center as well. Especially, site development and tower positioning. I know I am just a proleteriate and not an expert, but I don't see much in the way of great design in either development.

June 20, 2007 2:40 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Well, in this case I do have to agree with King Leonard The Great. I can't even explain why, but I find City Center, much more exciting than Echelon Place. I mean, don't get me wrong. I am thrilled to see the Stardust go, and be replaced by something new, but I think I was looking for something more exciting, Echelon, looks like they merged 3 different plans, done by 3 seperate people, without talking to each other. The main tower, looks like a cheap rip off on Wynn's curved tower, but they dropped the roof slope. The project don't look balanced at all. I hope they have a phase 2 in mind, and some of the strange things they have done, are due to the phase 2 which will make the project look more complete. 4.8 Billion? Will we have another Aladdin on our hands here?

June 20, 2007 3:07 PM Posted by dstanley

Perhaps I am the only one who feels this way, but I am not sure about the name "Echelon Place". Doesn't this refer to a mythical military base? Maybe it's an ok name though.

June 20, 2007 3:21 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Tom M: I realize that you are not a design professional so to speak + you most likely represent the POV of the "average Joe" layperson, which is actually a GOOD thing. Without having to go into another one of my repetitous diatribes, I suggest that you visit CityCenter's website + based on the participatory collaborative architects/designers alone, do additional research + Google all of the major player's history with respect to MGM/Mirage's assemblage of the best world-class firms. I actually agree with you that CityCenter has "squeezed in" just about the maximum amount of multiple high rise venues (18M s.f.+ to be exact when including the podium/pedestrian level/retail components)) into a very 'confined' site, even after MGM/Mirage has recently been able to increase the buidable site by an additional 10+ acres to the masterplan for CityCenter. Echelon has considerably more site development area than CityCenter + yet they chose mediocre architects which has resulted in a really disorganized masterplan. Hopefully, even with the increased overall construction costs that Boyd is currently facing in completing Echelon, they will modify the design to be more harmonious + better integrated with the other related towers. Remember, the renderings that were released to the public + media today represent only the early "design development" stage. Even though groundbreaking was official, this project could (hopefully) evolve into a much better organized masterplan. Regardless of the density issue, it is really a stretch to attempt to try + compare the design of CityCenter (which is actually currently being constructed at a "world-record fast-track pace" by Perini) with the initial design development renderings of Echelon Place. This is nothing but an apples + oranges comparison - hands-down!

June 20, 2007 3:53 PM Posted by Mark D

The new renderings have only very minor changes from the renderings shown a couple months ago in an investor presentation. The two main Echelon Towers look like large versions of the old Stardust with the same wide uninspired white border surrounding the glass curtain wall, except with lower chroma colored glass and they're curved. I do not like the way that imposing monstrous white column lands right at the front of the property. The Mondrian and Delano buildings look like over-sized shoe boxes (hopefully they'll have some nice cladding). But, as long as they can keep that huge convention center booked, they'll have no problem making money. Maybe business people who go to conventions like resorts that look like bank buildings? And it's conveniently located near the sex district too, which conventioneers are famous for patronizing.

June 20, 2007 4:39 PM Posted by mike_ch

I'm sorry, but Wynn's tower is a POS as far as the outside goes. Between the massive glass wall and the curve, it creates this enormous buildup of heat while standing around outside. The big metal orb sitting over the Fashion Show Mall might also be partly to blame, but anyone who has walked the Strip can tell you that the bridge between the Mall and WLV is particularly hotter, especially at sunset, than the rest of the street. In the summertime, I just about melt walking to WLV from the mall, and it's because of all that sunlight bouncing off what's basically a big, brown, curved magnifying glass that's refracting all that heat back at me. I will give them credit that it makes great use of space, so long as you put all the one-bed rooms facing LVB like they have with all the two-bed rooms facing the golf course. The curve also gives those course-facing rooms a great field of view, almost panoramic without being on an endcap.

I'm not sure what to think of the Echelon towers, I kind of like the white "frame" myself so long as they're not going for gold glass, but hearing people say it's not as good as Wynn's tower makes me laugh.

June 20, 2007 5:53 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

mike_ch: Sorry, I was unable to complete my previous post in response to your last comment in its entirety. I'll leave you with this one single comment: the footprint form-factor for both WLV + Encore are actually quite 'innovative' in terms of conceptual design based on the fact that they are reverse curvilinear towers. With the exception of the stupid "swooping" fascia emblazoned with the "Wynn" logo, the actual curved shape is quite unique. However Butler/Ashworth's choice of a chocolate-bronze reflective curtain wall is absolutely hideous. Ron Altoon's "Cloud" design at the Fashion Show Mall has absolutely NO affect whatsoever on the issues that you cite. mike_ch, are you sure that you agree that Wynn's tower is a POS as far as the exterior is concerned? Let's just settle this right now + mutually agree that the the EXTERIOR of WLV is a POS!

June 20, 2007 6:40 PM Posted by charlie


It is exciting that there are so many major projects being developed at the same time, especially on the North Strip, which will be the greatest collection of hotels in the world once complete...too bad CityCenter has to share the neighborhood with Aladdin, Paris and M-C...and will not be in this area.

King Leonard the Great, you must share your knowledge/insight on the interior design of CityCenter. And you are right, the footprint of Wynn and Encore is well done, but the towers would be far superior if they were clear glass or an opaque silver. It would make these extremely large structures appear even greater...and they would glitter the spectrum of colour, instead of aborb so much pure light...(is there a glaze developed that would actually sparkle, yet appear clear or opaque)?

In 3 years, the airlines will have to bring in everyone on Dreamliners to fill all of this capacity...we can only hope.

June 20, 2007 7:01 PM Posted by Mark D

I'm changing my opinion of the Mondrian and Delano after seeing these renders someone just posted on ssp.

June 20, 2007 10:35 PM Posted by mike_ch

Leonard: You may be right that the Wynn tower might be slightly more appealing outside without that curved roofline. As it is, it reminds me of a Jawa Sandcrawler from Star Wars that got bent up all out of shape. However, I maintain that it's position is pretty ugly, as it seems to refract heat right down onto the sidewalk. By the time I get to Wynn's water feature, I'm dying to get out of the sun. I tend to fare badly under direct sunlight (go figure, my mother's side is Irish and my father's side is a lot of redheads) but after this many Strip walkarounds, I have yet to find an experience as brutal for heat as the walkway between Wynn and the Fashion Show. I think the tower fits his "design from the inside out" philosophy, which I was never a huge fan of. It offers some decent views, and I think southern views (and eventually, northern) from Encore should be pretty spectacular.

charlie: Capacity is a problem, because of McCarran, roads, water, etc. I don't see why Paris, PH are negatives since everyone loves an affordable place right next door to a big attraction, it's what Bally's has been running on the past eight years. Not all of us can afford luxury on our vacation, but we want to gawk at how the other side relaxes anyway.

Mark D: WOW! Is that a free-standing elevator core there? The third picture is great because it's obvious they just used a graphics app to color over the Stardust's west tower so it looked like their bottom building. Assuming that that box is actually supposed to be the same size as west tower and that wasn't just the artist being cheap, it brings interesting perspective to the size of the faded hotel buildings in the top picture.

June 21, 2007 4:44 AM Posted by Pikes

I like the Wynn Tower, Looks best at night when all the lights are on. It's the mountain I can't stand, biggest blight on the vegas strip, soon to be replaced by the viagra induced Veer Towers though.

June 21, 2007 7:15 PM Posted by steve_c

Hey I am new here, but have been reading for quite some time.

I may be the only one who actually likes the look of the facade to Echelon. It reminds me of a cleaner, modern version of the facade to the Forum Shops at Ceasers. I would like to see some more creative landscaping in front of the entrance. Hopefully Phase 2 will use up the rest of LVB frontage and incorperate it nicely with what is built in Phase 1. Should be an interesting walk from The Mirage to Echelon within the next 6 or so years.

July 7, 2007 9:29 AM Posted by detroit1051

"In recent years there's been a significant increase in hotel room rates - and still a small increase in hotel occupancy rates. The market has always been able to absorb more rooms. Granted, the sheer number of new hotel rooms between 2009 and 2011 will be a historic record. We'll still tap our strong base of Baby Boomers, but many of the new rooms will be filled by two growing customer markets - business travelers who now only take up less than 10 percent of the rooms, and tourists between the ages of 29 and 35. And we haven't discussed the potential of increased international travelers."

July 7, 2007 10:04 AM Posted by mike_ch

Hey Leonard, do you think the design shown in Mark D's link for the Mondrian/Delano hotels is actually viable? It seems to me that kind of building would be terribly buffeted by the wind.

Does that actually seem logically possible on the strip to you?

July 7, 2007 5:07 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

I would like to address Pikes' very "informed" observation first. From the exterior (the pedestrian level Strip POV) the WLV "mountain" is considered to be an absolute EYESORE by EVERYONE! WR spent a major portion of construction dollars on the internal facing mountain water features, etc. which still has NOT lived up to its expectations, my apology goes out to both Don Brinkerhoff + Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs of Lifescapes International, Inc. the designers, (who I have known for several decades) however, that MOUNTAIN FEATUE REALLY SUCKS! Tony [Marnell] reportedly lost so much money building this disaster that he has allegedly terminated his decades long-term relationship with Wynn Resorts as GC, hence the fact that Tutor-Saliba is the ONLY GC willing to take a chance with Encore. Good luck to Tutor-Saliba if [they] end up in the black on a Wynn job. Once Steve will ever be 'considered' to be lucky enough, based on the current demand for A++ General Contractors, to even be given the courtesy of obtaining bids from the likes of Perini, then one must assume that WR is considered to be an equal in the running, such as MGM/Mirage, Cosmo, Trump, etc. Won't happen, NO major GC wants to work for WR when there is so much construction out there to bid on with the "premier players", i.e. MGM/Mirage, LVS. What major GC would even consider committing to a contract with Wynn Resorts when Kerkorian + Adelson are continuing to develop here. If you guys follow local business/construction news, you will see that Perini Building Co. has first dibs on the very BEST talent available, including subcontractors, etc. that Wynn cannot afford to pay. Perini pays premiums to harness the best talent that MGM/Mirage INSISTS upon, unlike WR, which continue to screw over every GC in the business. mike_ch: I DO have some major information on both the Mondrian + Delano Hotels @ Echelon, but will not release it until I have it verified. All that I can sy is, much of what Boyd has announced will 'significantly' be revised by the time Echelon is launched.

July 7, 2007 8:23 PM Posted by John

Here's the thing I've never been able to understand: Isn't Tutor-Saliba owned, partially, by Perini? If not, I know they are related somehow. In that instance though, wouldn't it stand to say that Tutor would be able to get much the same contractors that Perini gets?

Also, isn't Adelson more or less developed, at least in terms of the land he has as of now. I mean, aside from that poorly placed condo tower, he's out of space. Of course, he could rebuild the Sands CC, but I highly doubt he'll tear that down and rebuild it, since it's more or less a cash cow for the company. So, that is one player who is, more or less, out of the game for a period of time. That really does, though, open up Taylor Construction to come into the Wynn game if the Tutor-Wynn relationship isn't made in heaven. So, it isn't like there is a huge shortage of contractors when you consider that one really doesn't have that much on it's plate. (However, I really wouldn't go with Taylor because most of their portfolio has been fairly cheap when you consider how their projects have held up to others built around the same time.)

Also, it isn't like Tutor will be leaving Las Vegas, they do have other projects that Wynn Resorts. They're building the PH Towers, so it isn't like they won't have a presence and won't become a player of the Las Vegas Strip, if they pull them off well.

July 8, 2007 9:36 AM Posted by Leonard Stern

John: The connection between Perini Building Corp. + Tutor-Saliba is its chairman + CEO Ron Tutor who is also president of Tutor-Saliba Corp. However, they are operated as totally separate completely unrealated companies. This type of executive positioning, particularly at the upper level of corporate management is fairly common in the construction industry. As for your comment re the Mason Bros. (Taylor Int'l.) they were Kerkorian's ONLY choice of builder in the past + with their recent commission the size + scope of Palazzo, + other LVS projects they are on their way to become a major player here once again. You cannot compare a family run construction business like Taylor Int'l. with the likes of Perini. I knew both Mason Bros.' father + grandfather, they were both close friends with my father. Secondly, Tutor-Saliba are trying to establish firm footing here in L.V., so they have a lot riding on how profitable Encore turns out for them when it is complete. (Considering Encore is a "Wynn project", their prospects aren't too good)