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Arquitectonica Hits the Jackpot in Vegas

November 21, 2007

By Tony Illia

Arquitectonica’s Las Vegas gamble is finally paying off big with two new projects on the Strip. The Miami-based firm’s $3 billion, 2,998-room Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino is currently under construction on Las Vegas Boulevard, next to the Bellagio. Developed by New York City-based Ian Bruce Eichner, it calls for two, 600-foot-tall twisting blue glass towers perched atop a four-level, 100-foot-tall podium. These 52-story, prism-shaped high-rises are wrapped in fretted balconies; they will contain hotel and condo-hotel units managed by Grand Hyatt. A glass-clad low-rise structure will contain 265,000 square feet of shops and restaurants topped by a five-acre sandy beach and pool. The 6.9-million-square-foot project is packed into a narrow 8.5-acre site that maximizes its real estate with zero lot lines and underground parking.

The Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino
Las Palmas
Images: Courtesy Arquitectonica

The Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino (top) is currently underway on the Las Vegas Strip while Las Palmas is in the offing (above).

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“Las Vegas projects, in the past, have been set back from the street with huge porte-cochere entrances. The Cosmopolitan, however, is a truly urban project that reaches toward the sidewalk and engages the energy of the Strip,” says Bernardo Fort-Brescia, FAIA, principal of Arquitectonica. He added that its design is a “purely abstract architectural expression.”

Although Cosmopolitan won’t debut until late 2009, Arquitectonica is already working on another hotel/condo complex called Las Palmas, located on Paradise Road just east of the Strip. The $1.6 billion, 4.5 million square-foot project will consist of four, 55-story aqua-colored glass towers—accented by golden ellipses—containing 1,800 hotel and condo units. The 13-acre complex by Florida-based developer Donahue Peebles has received initial planning approval from Clark County. Its first tower is expected to open in 2010.

These dual developments give Arquitectonica a second chance in Las Vegas after two previously planned projects folded. The Related Cos. had tapped the firm to design its Las Ramblas and Icon Las Vegas condominium projects in 2005, but both jobs were later canceled amid rising construction costs and a skyrocketing real estate market.

Las Vegas had 64,552 luxury condo units planned in the second quarter of this year, but only 13.6 percent were under construction and another 18.4 percent had been canceled or suspended, reports the economic research firm Applied Analysis. “The market remains in the midst of a re-balancing from an overheated demand to skeptical consumers,” says Brian Gordon, principal of Applied Analysis. “The cancellation of those proposals with unrealistic development plans will ultimately help the luxury condominium market in the long run.”

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