On the back cover of a recent New Yorker Magazine, bastion of serious fiction, non-fiction and poetry, was a full page ad that took me by surprise, especially after I had just traveled there for the Luxury Summit conference. It said, " So you're not a Vegas person... " and then in huge block letters, "ARE YOU SURE?" It was an ad for CityCenter, and touted all the great art, great culture, restaurants and cultural atmosphere found there. But that ad stuck with me, as the inference was the theme I was going to explore: could a visionary development on a grand scale change personal tourist attitudes toward a destination? And conversely, could Las Vegas actually be perceived differently because of one grand multi-use venue?
In thinking about this, it is crucial to remember that Las Vegas is a desert city, situated in a barren Mojave desert valley. The city is about 2000 feet above sea level, it rains, on average, less that 5 inches a year. But visionaries have come here before, dreamed big dreams, and built. Historically, Las Vegas's persona is tied to big gaming and play in all its dark and light dimensions. But the building of CityCenter challenges this Las Vegas stereotype, as its vision hopes to resculpt and redesign Las Vegas's neon persona, by creating a design as well as an eco-sensitive aesthetic unseen and untried anywhere else. Here are some basic dimensions.