Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

– LEED Building

Grand Rapids Art Museum – GRAM – (2007)

Kulapat Yantrasast, Yo Hakomori, Aaron Loewenson, wHY Architecture; Architects

101 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids MI

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Touted as the world’s first LEED Gold certified art museum, this brutalist bare concrete structure actually has very sophisticated details and beautiful spaces. The “green features” are integrated throughout the building. Some are obvious, and some are cleverly integrated and were only discovered by reading reports of all of the earth friendly features of the building.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum website

Need a place to stay while visiting? The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and the Downtown Courtyard are within a short walk.

Hungry? These are my favorite restaurants within a short walk that I discovered while visiting:

Osteria Rossa, Rockwell Republic and San Chez (which also has breakfast)

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Aria Resort and Casino (2009)

Cesar Pelli / Pelli Clarke Pelli, Architect

CityCenter Las Vegas

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4,000,000 SF, 4,004 rooms, 61 stories, LEED Gold

This casino, resort, hotel and convention center is quite unique in Las Vegas. In a sea of casino buildings trying to replicate other buildings, other cities, other cultures, and other centuries, Aria’s crisp clean, contemporary architecture is , well just really really good crisp, clean, contemporary architecture. It is honest through and through.

Cesar Pelli has taken the 4,000 rooms, arranged them in gently curving towers of unequal height, and given each of them a corner window. Inside, the lobby’s long registration counter is in front of a wall of glass overlooking a small vest-pocket park featuring a large Henry Moore sculpture.  Hanging above the registration counter is one of my favorite art installations. It is a glistening silver casting of the Colorado river flowing across the space by Maya Lin. It is beautiful.

Outside the main entrance, edging the circular drive is a fascinating and wonderful water wall. The sloped wall with a textured surface has an ever-changing waterfall flowing over it.  From a trickle to a deluge, the water creates a display that is visually, sensually, and audibly soothing.

The more I walked around it and through it, the more I appreciated this building and casino. The casino has a more masculine feel than most others on the strip. Aria does not try to be anything other than what it is, a great contemporary resort and casino, arguably the best on the strip.


Crystals at CityCenter (2010)

Studio Daniel Libeskind,  Architecture

Rockwell Group, Interior Architecture

CityCenter Las Vegas

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Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas (2009)

Kohn Pederson Fox, Architects

CityCenter Las Vegas

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Vdara Hotel and Spa (2009)

Rafael Vinoly, Architect

CityCenter Las Vegas

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Veer Towers (2010)

Helmut Jahn, Architect

CityCenter Las Vegas

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CityCenter Las Vegas (2009)

On the Las Vegas Strip

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CityCenter Las Vegas is a $9.2 billion development on 76 acres on “The Strip” in Las Vegas. It is sandwiched between the Monte Carlo and Bellagio Resorts. (The Cosmopolitian Resort was constructed at the same time as CityCenter and is now open on a sliver of land between CityCenter and Bellagio). The Master Plan was designed by Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn Architects.

The main buildings in the mixed use development are the Aria Resort and Casino, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel and residential condominium tower, Veer Towers residential condominiums, Vdara Hotel and Spa, The Harmon Hotel, Spa & Residences, and The Shops at Crystals. The Harmon tower, originally designed to be 49 stories, but was only built to the 28th floor due to structural issues.  Although the distinctive multi-toned blue glass curtain wall exterior was installed. the interiors were never built out and the tower’s demolition is pending.

The buildings were designed by internationally known architects – at least the superstructure, building form and exterior curtain wall design. The list includes Cesar Pelli, Daniel Libeskind, Helmut Jahn, William Pederson, Rafael Vinoli, Sir Norman Foster and David Rockwell. The building’s interior architecture was mostly or completely designed within the superstructure by other architects to meet the needs of the hotel, condominium, retail, gaming and entertainment occupants.

I will include images and comments on each of the main buildings in CityCenter with separate posts. For links click on the names here: Aria, Mandarin, Veer, Vdara, Crystals and Harmon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the architects that worked on the Mandarin Hotel guest rooms, Mandarin residential penthouses, Veer residential penthouses, and Harmon residential penthouses projects.