Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

This time on the show:

Mr. DeRuyter Butler, Executive Vice President of Architecture @ Wynn Design & Development is our special guest.

We discuss Cotai, Fontainebleau, his role at Wynn D&D as well as CityCenter and challenges of working in China. Plus, we find out that Sheldon has been giving us all the middle finger since 1999.

This is a 'don't miss' interview.

If you love casino design, construction and all the thinking behind it, check it out.

Check out the show:

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to


Read archived comments (12 so far)
February 10, 2011 7:48 PM Posted by stevecovington

Haven't finished it, but VERY good stuff. Especially regarding the properties now owned by MGM and how "they don't get" when it comes to redesigning the properties and how a lot of what ends up being accomplished (or not) is counter productive. Gotta listen to the rest of it now.

February 10, 2011 7:59 PM Posted by parchedearth

Fantastic interview with lots of interesting info. I'm sure there was a lot more that he couldn't really be candid about.
Two future interview suggestions are someone from: 1) LVS to discuss the Venetian/Palazzo design differences, especially the distinct casino spaces; 2) MGM to discuss the philosophy behind detheming properties and specifically the push for modern design throughout all MGM properties.

February 12, 2011 12:43 PM Posted by detroit1051

What a great podcast! DeRuyter Butler was a perfect guest. He answered every question clearly, completely and concisely. Just excellent. His reaction to changes made by MGM to Bellagio and The Mirage was very interesting, and the possible "disjointedness" of CityCenter because of five archtiects were only two of the great comments he made. I'm not sure I agree with his take on the golf course. I know it's in the heart of the convention district, but even though only several hundred people get to use the 150 acre course a day, it's a beautiful oasis in the center of the densely populated Strip. I'm obviously expressing my emotional view, not a financially sound one.
I'm glad Chuckmonster got the hugging discussion going. Terrific! So, how are you guys going to top this Vegas Gang?

February 12, 2011 7:18 PM Posted by Hunter


As far as what's next... I dunno. I'd like to do more interviews though and I do have a list of prospects.

The Wynn folks and especially DeRuyter were so gracious with their time to make this happen - I'm glad to see the positive reaction.

February 14, 2011 8:33 AM Posted by AxeATL

What a great interview. Very kind of Mr. Butler to take 1 hour of his time to spend sharing with the Vegas Gang. He was very open and honest and really shared some great insights. I have a great appreciation for the kind of attention to detail, he and Wynn Resorts put into their projects.

In regards to City Center, I've posted on this blog before about how I really became more interested in Las Vegas after visiting City Center and have now become a real follower of the city. I kind of defended the project. However, as I've learned more about the city and other resorts in town, it sure is obvious what a total cluster the place is.

Now don't get me wrong, I still enjoy spending time in Aria and had a great stay in Vdara. The scope of the project, the materials used and its scale still blow me away, but it is so obvious that the property could have been so much more. What would Butler, Thomas, and Steve Wynn do with 8.5 billion dollars and that location.

The other thing I took away was his comments about Bellagio. I thought it was very genuine of him to speak so highly of Bellagio even though it is not a Wynn property. Bellagio is a true work of art, it is a shame that it cannot receive the care that it deserves under the control of MGM.

February 14, 2011 3:49 PM Posted by socalduck

What a great interview, really enjoyable! He really offered some fascinating perspectives on the design process, the philosophy of Wynn Design, and how the company has evolved since the GN days. I never realized the Mirage was giving me a hug, or that the Venetian is flipping me the bird.

His comments on the remodel/de-theming of Mirage were spot-on. The casino floor has lost most of it's character, and Kokomo's is glaringly out of place.

February 17, 2011 8:12 AM Posted by LeoNYC

I think there is an enormous consensus among several people (including the Wynn folks) that Bellagio is a work of art and probably the most beautiful resort in Las Vegas. I see only a few "mistakes" such as the distance between the guests' elevators and the reception desk, and the fact you have to walk through the casino to go to the gym/spa.
Nothing surpass the feeling of driving to that beautiful porte-cochere, after passing the fountains, and entering the beautiful lobby with those 2,000 glass flowers hanging from the ceiling and the most beautiful mosaic in Las Vegas.

February 17, 2011 12:11 PM Posted by Ed

Let's see: A) Wynn doubles price of Garth tix. B) Adelson cuts comps for all but hi-holy rollers C) Celine returns to save the City!

Time for Boyd to start re-construction of Stardust 2.0.
Building must HUG, 2 sinks in bathroom, separate commode room, flat screen face the bed, AC grill blows away from the bed and windows that open a bit for medicinal smoke to clear the room!

Four years from now time to open !

February 17, 2011 4:08 PM Posted by Romaman

Yeah. They really screwed up on the Mirage's casino Remodel. The casino looks very boring now. They obviously screwed up ti. I agree with LeoNYC on the Bellagio. It really is a work of art and arguably Mr. Wynn's Greatest masterpiece. All it needs is a Roger Thomas renovation to the rooms, casino, and carpet and it would be back to the top 3 resorts on the strip but boy, MGM really screwed with the place though.

Also if you guys haven't noticed, the Bellagio is the only place Wynn has built that doesn't have flashing, glittering lights on the facade or marquee of the resort (i.e. Mirage ti Beau Rivage Wynn Encore Golden Nugget etc).

February 19, 2011 3:52 PM Posted by stevecovington

I think it would have been interesting to see what they would have done with the existing Desert Inn buildings had they gone the short-lived plan of reusing the old complex.. It's still kind of a pity that those DI buildings couldn't have been on, let's say, the Frontier lot. We may not have had as many empty lots up there as we do now. I'd also be interested in what Steve's original plan for the Bellagio Spa Tower expansion would have been. I know that MGM made a lot of cost-cutting changes to the final plans, and that it's rumored the building skin would have been a different concept than the original Bellagio tower. I wonder if the grand staircase would have survived under Wynn ownership, or if that was going to be removed regardless of who owned the place. It seems like they could have made something else work instead of removing the stairs.

It would be cool to see what sort of resort would be designed with everything learned from WynnLV all of the way through the Cotai development. The overall progression of their resort designs dating back to the Mirage to today is pretty amazing considering the Mirage isn't even 25 years old. One can only imagine what kind of resort we'd get in the future if Wynn ever has an interest in the Vegas market again. Asia seems to be his target for the next decade, and with his age, one has to ever wonder if we'll get another Wynn project in Vegas during our lifetimes. I know Butler and Thomas could always go onto work for other companies if Stevie is no longer in the picture, but I still don't imagine anyone ever having the visionary skills that he has to make it all come together.
Hopefully there will be more "hugs" and less of the finger in future resorts.

February 23, 2011 7:26 AM Posted by Richard

Love listening to your podcasts and this one was particularly interesting. However, did someone have a microphone wedged up one semi-congested nostril during most of the show, because this loud background sound made it really difficult to get through! Otherwise, great work!

March 4, 2011 2:11 PM Posted by Bill P.

Butler was not only extremely interesting, but surprisingly candid. I always enjoy the podcast, but have tended to enjoy it more without guests. This was an exception. Big props to DeRuyter and the Gang on this one.