Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Interview Completed: Posted here.

Update: I picked the questions and they are being sent to Wynn Resorts to be answered. I tried to pick questions that represented a range of topics. In some places I was able to combine questions and still retain what I believed was the questions true intent. Hopefully I maintained that for you guys. Anyway, as soon as we have a response, it will of course be posted on the blog as a new article.

We're starting a new semi-regular feature on the blog - an interview series. This series is different than other interviews for an important reason - you, the readers, submit the questions! It works like this: you add potential questions as comments on this story. In about a week, I will then pick the ten best/most interesting questions and send them to the interview subject. The responses will be printed in a follow-up story. Feel free to submit more than once but please make sure one comment = one question.

I've started to line up some interesting gaming industry heavyweights to participate. I'm personally very excited about the person we're kicking off with. DeRuyter Butler has been involved in designing some of the Strip's most iconic casinos. Working with Steve Wynn since 1982 he was involved with projects at the Golden Nugget, The Mirage and Treasure Island and was the primary design architect for Beau Rivage, Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas. Recently, Mr. Butler has been overseeing the finalization of Wynn Macau and the development of Encore, Wynn Las Vegas' sister resort. Butler's creations are one of the major inspirations that inspired this site in the first place, we are honored to have him. Please submit your questions, one per comment, below.

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Read archived comments (32 so far)
February 10, 2006 1:33 AM Posted by Mike E

Many of us would agree that Wynn Las Vegas has done a remarkable job of making a 5.8 million square feet feel intimate, especially in the Tower Suites section. Do you believe there were ways you could have gone even further with this idea and if so, how?

February 10, 2006 1:44 AM Posted by Mike E

Other than your own works, what other resorts in Las Vegas and around the world do you find note-worthy from an architect's standpoint?

February 10, 2006 7:11 AM Posted by Greg Weight

I am wondering about the designed delayed gratification of both Bellagio and Wynn. What I mean by that is, considering that the Strip is perhaps home to the busiest foot traffic in the world, most resorts on the strip put their casinos right up front (e.g. Harrahs, Paris, NYNY, with the exceptions of Mandalay Bay and even Luxor, though their foot traffic off the sidewalk is minimal). However, Bellagio and Wynn both force the visitor to walk through a shopping area to get to the casinos and heart of the resort. Was this design decision based solely on economics, or was there a more psychological impulse: wanting to build up visitors' excitement and anticipation, rather than giving them an "easy payoff"?

February 10, 2006 9:51 AM Posted by Don

Most of the criticism of the resort that I've read is that its too similar to the Bellagio and wasn't worth the additional cost. What do you say to these critics and why did it cost so much more?

February 10, 2006 12:45 PM Posted by Mike E

Wynn has said that due to its expansive lake, guests of Bellagio are made to walk 600 feet from check-in to the room elevators. We know that at Wynn Las Vegas, it's less than half because of its design from the inside looking out. Did Wynn ever mention concern for guest convenience as far as spacial relations go during construction of Bellagio or others?

February 10, 2006 12:57 PM Posted by Mike E

Can we expect a "hotel within a hotel" and "neighborhoods" at Encore like we've seen at Wynn Las Vegas?

February 10, 2006 3:55 PM Posted by Hunter

Can you help illustrate the design process at Wynn Development and Design?

Take a project like Wynn Las Vegas - who's desk does that start out on and how does the project flow through the division? At what point are other departments, like interior design and the contractor's people, involved?

February 10, 2006 3:56 PM Posted by Hunter

What aspect of Wynn Las Vegas are you the most proud of? Also, the same question for any other property you've worked on not including WLV.

February 10, 2006 3:59 PM Posted by Hunter

What was it like designing for a project to be built in a country so far away as you are doing with Macau? Tell us about differences in regulations and how any additional design constraints impacted your work. For example, I've been told that casino floors in Macau have to be physically separated from all-ages public areas - is any of that true and how do those types of issues change your designs?

February 10, 2006 4:00 PM Posted by Hunter

How did you end up first working with Steve Wynn? Have you always been interested in hotel/casino/resort development?

February 10, 2006 4:01 PM Posted by Hunter

When you're not working, do you have any hobbies or outside interests that you pursue?

February 10, 2006 4:03 PM Posted by Hunter

An article appeared in the LA Times appeared shortly after the opening of Wynn Las Vegas that equated the hotel's theme with that of a Houston office tower. This criticism yet other national publications and many casino customers have heralded WLV's unique ability to cater to the customer in ways not before seen in Las Vegas. What did the LA Times author miss?

February 10, 2006 4:04 PM Posted by Hunter

Are there any specific design features of other Las Vegas casinos that you think are particularly well done?

February 10, 2006 4:07 PM Posted by Hunter

County filings for Encore seem to suggest a much more extensive set of low to mid-rise buildings surrounding the hotel tower, up to ten stories - also, the room count seems to keep growing. Can you tell us anything about this or other design elements in the new hotel?

February 10, 2006 9:30 PM Posted by Mike E

Reports of Encore have indicated a surprisingly small casino by mega-resort standards. Why is that and do you think it may change? Will the focus on gaming remain at Wynn Las Vegas?

February 11, 2006 1:11 AM Posted by chris

To what extent has Wynn Macau been tailored to meet Asian sensibilities / preferences and what are the key differences with Wynn Las Vegas (apart from the obvious - size)?

February 11, 2006 7:14 AM Posted by detroit1051

Resort Tower registration is not as close to Resort Tower elevators as some guests originally expected. Have you received any feedback on this?

February 11, 2006 7:18 AM Posted by detroit1051

The "mountain" is almost too close to the main building to appreciate its beauty from restaurants and patios facing it. Did property limitations constrain the set-back of the main resort building, or did you design it this way for intimacy?

February 11, 2006 7:19 AM Posted by detroit1051

How, if at all, will Encore be integrated into Wynn Las Vegas to create a seamless experience for guests within the property?

February 11, 2006 7:21 AM Posted by detroit1051

Some observations have been made that there are not enough elevators to provide superior service, especially in comparison to Bellagio. How are decisions on support services made?

February 11, 2006 7:24 AM Posted by detroit1051

There are long term plans to replace the golf course with other development. Can you share any plans which are being considered?

February 11, 2006 1:37 PM Posted by Arthur

Do you have any ideas about Mr. Wynn planning resorts in other cities besides Las Vegas and Macau? If so, where?

February 12, 2006 12:09 PM Posted by gilli

What is the influence of market research on the resorts? In other words, is the overall design developed first and "tested" with focus groups of key customer segments or are elements of the design based on customer preferences research done in advance?

February 12, 2006 5:18 PM Posted by BrianFey

Many people have complained that the elevators at Wynn, are not air conditioned? Is this true, and what is the norm? For example, were the elevators at Mirage, and Bellagio air conditioned?

February 12, 2006 5:25 PM Posted by Brian Fey

I noticed opening weekend, there horrible traffic mess, for both incoming and outgoing guest, and also taxi's at the main entrance at Wynn. I know you and Steve wanted this place to feel small and intimate, but lets face the facts, this hotel is no Ritz-Carlton, you have 2700 rooms, 3 theaters, and a very busy casino. When I returned last week, it was definity flowing somewhat better, but the entire area seems far to small, and unefficient. Do you feel like you guys made a mistake in the size or overall design of the main entrance area, as far as the traffic is concerned?

February 12, 2006 5:27 PM Posted by Brian Fey

I am sure you love Wynn, and are happy with your results. I love Wynn also, and happen to think its the single best hotel in Las Vegas. But sometimes, you can't see mistakes until you are finished, or else too far along to fix them. Do you feel like you are not satisified with any part of the project? Is there anything you wish you had changed or done differently, now that the project is finished, and you can see and examine the final product?

February 12, 2006 5:32 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Was Encore in the back of your or Steve's mind, when you designed Wynn? Did you make a way to integrate Wynn seamlessly into the next? Or was that never taken into consideration, and now you are just having to adapt Wynn, to connect to Encore to the best of your abilities?

February 12, 2006 5:37 PM Posted by Hunter

Very glad to see some new questions continuing to come in.

A quick note on tone - Of course we want this interview to be interesting and sometimes that means hard questions and that's fine. At the same time, he is our guest and we want to avoid a negative or condescending tone in the questions. Thanks guys and keep up the great questions!

February 13, 2006 5:17 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Wynn was obviously targeting the highest segement of customers possible in his latest project. I think this is where Wynn shines, as he understands his customers better than any of his competitors. However, Wynn designed Treasure Island to go after a more mid-priced catagory of customer. I think he did a great job in doing so. How would you say Encore, will relate to Wynn in terms of the level of guest you are targeting. Is it being designed as a somewhat less expensive property? And if so, can we expect less detail, and quailty? I have to only ask this, cause as the total budget is coming in far less than Wynn, I have to assume, that Encore will not be as detailed and ornate?

February 13, 2006 5:24 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Once the Spamalot theater is complete, Wynn will have three theaters. Will Encore house any theaters, or will it just share those with Wynn?

February 13, 2006 5:51 PM Posted by Hunter

We actually already know that another, small theater will be going in for comedians, singers, etc... There will be four total in the Encore/WLV complex.

February 14, 2006 8:18 AM Posted by mike_ch

Bellagio's facilitiy buildings around back have some visual elements and designs to make them consistant with the theme of the rest of the hotel, and even the tunnel cabs drive down into is framed with a themed archway. Wynn's has mostly buildings in a shade of tan with no theme elements. Although the golf club blocks most of this from public view, it is apparent from various angles. What philosophy changed between Bellagio and Wynn to make the outside buildings (other than the mountain) less elaborate, especially with so much money on hand?