Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Las Vegas, (the one in Nevada with the casinos just in case there is more than one), which was much fun.
The time that wasn't spent on gambling, drinking and going on extended road trips to the Grand Canyon involved taking in the place and as a result the architecture.
The architecture is certainly one of the most striking aspects of Las Vegas, (if you ignore the gambling). I think that some of the discussions between architects and prospective hotel owners must have been quite surreal.
An example (allegedly), about Luxor, a hotel in Vegas which coincidentally share's it name with a historic city in Egypt. The city that houses the Valley of The Kings and other great historical attractions from antiquity; antiquity being an umbrella term for really old stuff.
This is a transcript from a telephone conference between architect and developer during the creation of the Luxor hotel, arc for architect, dev for developer. Clearly, an understanding of scale has not been established between the developer, who lives near Vegas and the architect, who has never seen Vegas. This happened in the early stages of the "build".
dev: So hi, glad you are on board with this project, I have heard great things about your previous work on the Millennium Dome.
arc: (sound of spluttering)... (pause for breath) Why thank you for having us on board. Obviously our reputation precedes us.
dev: Indeed, so, what we are looking for is a design for a hotel that captures the essence of Egypt but at the same time accommodates the base line requirements, as in maximising the gaming floor.
arc: Egypt is quite a big place, with a lot of cultural influences, what sort of size did you have in mind?
dev: Oh, I have a significant amount of space/money and I want to capture all of Egypt's cultural influences... I want a pyramid and a sphinx, oh and a big laser.
arc: OK... so we want a hotel, with a gaming area that is in keeping with the feel of Luxor and it should involve a pyramid, a sphinx and a laser.
dev: Yup, that'll do for now, send me some plans.
Some days pass...
And then another phone call.
dev: I've had a little time to look over the plans and there are a few problems.
arc: Oh really?
dev: Yes firstly the size, it isn't big enough for a start. I think if you take the existing dimensions and add another nought to all the numbers that should cover it.
dev: The laser, apparently you will able to see this for miles around?
arc: On a clear night certainly.
dev: How about Space?
arc: I'm sorry?
dev: Space, will you be able to see it from Space, this is very important.
arc: Is the astronaut market that important to you?
dev: Not exactly, but it is important, it looks good for the investors.
arc: OK, we'll look into it.
dev: The accommodation is a little obvious as well.
dev: Indeed, floor after floor of accommodation just stacked above the base level, like any other building really. I was thinking the accommodation should hug the sides of the pyramid, that would make a statement.
arc: There would be certain challenges in doing that, elevators for instance.
dev: In what way?
arc: They would have to go sideways as well as up.
dev: Is that a problem?
arc: It's not exactly the conventional way lifts work.
dev: Oh I'd never noticed. Just get it done. Oh and one last thing, the artists impression of the sphinx with the missing nose, what is that all about.
arc: It's a scale recreation of the original at Giza.
dev: Really, you'd think they'd fix that. Get her a nose job, nobody wants to see that.
arc: (sigh) OK, consider it done.
This may all sound a little over the top, but that is exactly what Las Vegas is. The most outrageous monument to excess, and then some more.