Early in this new century, MGM MIRAGE envisioned a “city within a city” — a new symbol of Las Vegas that CityCenter’s CEO and President Bobby Baldwin says combines “the vitality of Las Vegas with the experiences tourists seek in great cities around the world.”
In 2005, master plan in hand, MGM MIRAGE asked Gensler to join it and make CityCenter a reality. How our team helped reinvent Las Vegas is a case study in design leadership.
See: "Creating CityCenter" (PDF)
“CityCenter is for people who want the Las Vegas they’ve never seen before,” says MGM MIRAGE Chairman and CEO Jim Murren.
CityCenter gives The Strip an urban core — a new city-scale development that supports a rich, full, 24/7 life. Calibrated to a Manhattan density, CityCenter encourages people to cover longer distances using the three-station PeopleMover and then explore each neighborhood on foot. Of the major projects on The Strip, only CityCenter connects directly to adjacent resorts — Monte Carlo and Bellagio — to create a walkable, accessible urban district. CityCenter is a whole greater than any of its distinctive parts, a world-class destination for leisure and entertainment.
Delivering CityCenter in just five years required a full-throttle, fast-track process. MGM MIRAGE Design Group realized it needed a design firm partner that could complement its in-house capabilities to orchestrate a project of unprecedented size and complexity. MGM MIRAGE selected Gensler, and together formed the CityCenter design leadership team to oversee the renowned architects, interior designers and specialty consultants who would create CityCenter. To give this massive development a more manageable scale, the design leadership team redefined it as three distinct blocks — each with distinct programs and uses. “CityCenter is about world-class architecture forming a complementary whole,” says MGM MIRAGE Design Group President Bill Smith.
Rarely is a short list of global talent called on to work together to create a city. To spur collaboration and innovation, Gensler Executive Director Andy Cohen proposed and led a charrette process including vision briefings, brainstorm sessions and design discussions, capturing the ideas and feeding them to the design architects and their teams. “Our first priority at CityCenter was to orchestrate design collaboration,” says Cohen.
Over seven weeks, the invited design architects alternated between Las Vegas and their own studios in the U.S. and abroad, spending a total of three weeks working with and learning from each other. Besides elaborating the vision, it helped finalize selection of the project's design teams.
“Las Vegas is ripe for a new paradigm,” says Vice President, MGM MIRAGE Design Group, Sven Van Assche. “CityCenter provides it.”
Gensler helped MGM MIRAGE capture its vision for the project. In just five months the team developed strategic positioning for CityCenter and the majority of its components, all of the collateral material, scripting of the film that introduces the development, and the planning and design of the sales pavilion settings that would introduce prospective owners to MGM MIRAGE’s vision of Las Vegas as the world’s leading urban entertainment destination.
MGM MIRAGE has an enviable track record for effective design and construction leadership, proven on such landmark developments as The Mirage and Bellagio. Led by Bill Smith and Sven Van Assche, MGM MIRAGE Design Group had standards, systems, and controls in place to generate high-quality, high-performance buildings and settings, but never at this scale and with such diversity of projects and participants.
When Gensler joined the CityCenter design leadership team, it brought its global design and delivery expertise, honed on comparably large mixed-use developments in China, the Gulf, the U.S., and the U.K. Gensler took the process to a whole new level.
CityCenter is the world’s largest LEED development. “We aimed to create a vibrant destination to demonstrate that a community can be both beautiful and sustainable,” says MGM MIRAGE Senior Vice President of Energy and Environmental Services Cindy Ortega. Achieving six LEED Gold-certified projects was always by design — and Gensler helped make it happen.
From convening an eco-charrette in March 2005 to set goals, to briefing every project’s consultants — 700 people in all — on LEED goals, design credits, and submittals, Gensler worked closely with MGM MIRAGE and its construction partners to achieve sustainability in every aspect of CityCenter’s development: demolition, design construction, and operations.
THE VISION REALIZED: MGM MIRAGE teamed with Gensler to lead seven world–class architects, 43 interior designers and more than 200 consultants to deliver this game-changing development. Together with our esteemed MGM MIRAGE colleagues, we celebrate its opening. CityCenter’s completion achieves Jim Murren's and Bobby Baldwin’s vision of a new and urbane Las Vegas, reinvented for the 21st century.
Design Leadership Team:
MGM MIRAGE and Gensler
Perini Building Company
To learn more about the team, download the brochure:
"Creating CityCenter" (PDF)
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Jon Schmidt/MGM MIRAGE: Page 1; MGM MIRAGE: Pages 2a, 3b (top row), 4b (bottom left and right), 6b (right); Shamus Halkowich: Page 4b (top right, bottom middle); Michael Rubottom: Page 4b (top left); Gensler: Pages 3b (bottom row), 4a, 5e-g (left), 6b (left), 7c; Michael Weber: Page 5a-c; Eddie Berman: Page 5d (left); Chris Florin/Gensler—Los Angeles: Page 5d (right); Ryan Gobuty/ Gensler—Los Angeles: Page 5g (right); Mike Brown: Page 6a, 6c-g; Imagewerks/Getty Images: Page 7b (far left); Mark Gibson/Digital Vision/Getty Images: Page 7b (middle left); Jessica Peterson/Getty Images: Page 7b (middle right); Nick M Do/Photodisc/Getty Images: Page 7b (far right)
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