ATTITUDE IN THE DESERT

Essay published in PLAT Journal's issue 4.5.

ABSTRACT: The lifestyle of the twenty-first century is finding its form in the dry desert air of downtown Las Vegas. Spearheaded by The Downtown Project, a real-estate development/venture capital/property management company, old Las Vegas is being transformed into a tech-centric micro community. With the purchase of 60 acres of land and a $350 kickstart by Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, The Downtown Project has set about re-imaging an economically depressed swatch of former casinos and motels as a new community of entrepreneurs and start-ups. Through program and materials, The Downtown Project is leveraging architecture to entice the next generation of innovators to form a new like-minded community. While increasing interactions among individuals to promote innovation is not a novel idea with the tech industry, The Downtown Projects is noteworthy for its use of architecture to design a consistent attitude across idiosyncratic projects.

This preference for attitude contrasts with the atmospheric productions of the casinos. Soaked in neon lights, urban zip-lines, eighties pop song street concerts, gold-tinted glass, the electronic serenade of slot machines, and eight-dollar 32-once vodka cranberries in plastic legs, the casinos trade in the currency of themes and narratives. The Downtown Project decries this spectacle, instead offering pastel graphics, performance art, jazz quartets, reclaimed wood finishes, Wi-Fi, and twelve-dollar bourbon cocktails with spherical ice cubes. In its quest to solicit a millennial driven tech community, The Downtown Project is colliding, shifting, and softening the built-environment and in doing so, crafting an attitude that's substituting the one-armed bandit with a MacBook.

© Could Be Architecture, 2015.