Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

November 8, 2005

The Bellagio We Never Knew

Posted by Hunter

About a year ago I was contacted by the Jerde Partnership, one of the architects that worked on Bellagio for Steve Wynn. They had seen some photos that I had online and were looking for permission to re-print them. In return I asked to see the sketches, pictures and other materials they developed for Mirage Resorts.

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Unfortunately I am not allowed to post them online. That was part of our agreement - they were only for me to see. Sorry. But, I can describe some of the things I've seen in the drawings, photos and models. Many of the concepts were used for the resort. Others look surprisingly similar to concepts in play at Wynn Las Vegas. Others still remain undeveloped - and some cool stuff is in this category. Many of the sketches are labeled Beau Rivage, the original name for the resort (and later transferred to a Mirage property in Mississippi). They range in age from early in the process to opening day and cover many aspects of the property. All in all, a fascinating look at a landmark achievement.


The most interesting of the materials are elevations and drawings from the design process. By far the bulk of these drawings feature what is now the 'Via Bellagio' shopping area. A breakdown of some of the more interesting parts:

  • Instead of the walkway from the street leading through the marquee, there are depictions of it being built over the lake and into the property.
  • Originally it seems that the lake was to be broken up into many smaller segments, more akin to Wynn Las Vegas. The smaller segments featured fountains, statues and lots of landscaping. Buildings circle the smaller lake areas, creating more intimate zones.
  • Many of the buildings are circular in shape, coming down from large domes into the actual structures.
  • Some drawings depict a much more tiered approach with usable space (and people) at all levels instead of the ~1.5 levels of usable space that make up Bellagio's lakefront.


Clearly, the photos feature what was actually built. Still, a lot of great aerial shots really show off how damn big this property is. Many photos feature architectural details, that when examined, are quite impressive.

Site Plans

Unfortunately the site plan files I have aren't that big. I'd love to blow them all the way up to see all the nitty gritty details. I can't do that but I can see some details of the back-of-house areas in these site plans. Looks like a fair amount of office space, more than I thought was there originally.

I'm sure this will bring along some questions - let 'em rip. Sorry, no matter what I can't post any of these materials. I've already gotten one C&D from MGM MIRAGE and I certainly don't want another.


Read archived comments (2 so far)
November 9, 2005 5:59 PM Posted by Brian

Hunter, I take it you have seen the original depiction for Beau Rivage, which was an "S" shaped tower on an island in the middle of a 50-acre lake? Now THAT would've been one hell of a place.....of course, the original price tag for that one was $800 million, and Bellagio wound up being double that.

November 9, 2005 6:41 PM Posted by Hunter


That image is out in the PD: