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Gehry Designing First Las Vegas Building


Images Courtesy Gehry Partners LLP

Frank Gehry is the newest act to play Las Vegas. On February 11, the 76-year-old architect unveiled his first Vegas building: the $60-million Lou Ruvo Alzheimer's Institute, located downtown. The two-acre complex will be built on land deeded to the institute by the city of Las Vegas as part of its 61-acre Union Park development.

The five-story, 55,000-square-foot building will feature clinical, research and outpatient exam rooms for Alzheimer and other brain disease victims. Additional plans include a 9,000-square-foot banquet hall, flanked by a Wolfgang Puck cafe and catering kitchen on one side, and an interactive "Museum of the Mind" on the other. The institute plans to rent out its public areas at night and on weekends to help meet its operating expenses.

The building's banquet hall will be covered by a wildly curvy, undulating metal-and-glass trellis reaching up to 75 feet, while the main entrance will be made up of stacked building blocks separated by glass enclosed spaces. The contrast suggests the dual functions of the brain, simultaneously ordered and chaotic, structured and imaginative.

"This is something that will separate us from any other place on the face of the earth," said Mayor Oscar Goodman. "[Tourists] are going to come down to downtown Las Vegas to take a look at this phenomenon."

The project will be funded by the Las Vegas-based nonprofit Keep Memory Alive Foundation for brain disease research, founded by Larry Ruvo, Nevada's senior managing director for Southern Wine and Spirits. The new building is named after Ruvo's father, who died of Alzheimer's. Gehry characterized the project as "the mouse that roars" due to its modest yet assertive presence next to neighboring high-rise developments.

Construction is expected to begin August 4, with completion in 2008.

Tony Illia

 

 

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