The Las Vegas Strip is lined with hotels and casinos that compete for attention with towering roadside signage, and the spectacle often reaches a frenzied level of visual activity. Although one might argue that people don’t travel to Las Vegas to get away from it all, the edict to create a series of luminous shade structures, from the client of the first-ever recreational park on the Strip, could be considered a restrained design ask by Las Vegas standards. In turn, the project presented to the lighting designers the unique challenges of achieving brightness without being flashy and engaging visitors with design elements more sophisticated than ostentatious.
New York–based !Melk, the architecture firm responsible for the overall design of the new linear-shaped park located between the New York New York and Monte Carlo resorts, entrusted Arup with the task of lighting the 16 shade structures, which are made of perforated, 1-inch-thick, cold-formed steel arranged in groups of four. They flare outward as they rise and tower over trees planted within the landscape to offer relief from the desert city’s arid conditions. The installation’s complex, multi-axial curvature results in structural rigidity, but also non-uniform surfaces—an added challenge for the lighting designers.
The LED fixtures are internally mounted and shielded with custom louvers to keep out of view through the structures’ apertures. The luminaires illuminate the edge surfaces of each perforation, which Arup elected to paint white to maximize the lighting effect.
The lighting strategy evolved from the concept of a sun-washed desert bloom. Dynamic lighting controls perform color shifts in a 15-minute animated “sunlight ballet” routine that starts with a golden yellow and reaches a crescendo with a deep magenta cactus blossom. A last-minute client request to make the scheme more Las Vegas–like brought about additional on-site testing, but still with an end result that is more composed than it is carnivalesque.
Project: MGM Resorts International: The Park—Shade Structures, Las Vegas • Client: Marnell Companies, Las Vegas • Architect: !melk, New York • Lighting Designer: Arup, New York • Team Members: Leni Schwendinger, Christoph Gisel, Matt Franks, Rohit Manudhane, Salome Galjaard, Simone Collon, Solmaz Esmailzadeh • Photographer: Hanns Josten • Project Size: 20,400 square feet • Project Cost: $100 million • Lighting Costs: $100,000 • Watts per Square Foot: 0.15 • Code Compliance: Not Applicable • Manufacturers: Lumenpulse, GrandMA
Color speaks to the motivation of the project. • Rational and poetic. • Very strong concept. • Clarity in the design intent. • Appropriate for the context.