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No Urbanism in Las Vegas

Paul Goldberger has a nice review of Las Vegas's City Center project over in the New Yorker. Last year I expressed intrigue with the idea of building a "city in a city". From the video and pictures that were floating around during the project's construction, it looked like it might be a legitimate urban space right on the Las Vegas strip.

(from SheepGuardingLlama on Flickr)

The completed project doesn't seem to have lived up to that expectation. Granted, I haven't been there or seen it with my own eyes, but it sounds like City Center is less of a city and more of an amusement park that kind of looks like a city. Goldberger writes:
CityCenter is laid out not for pedestrians but as a machine for moving vast numbers of cars efficiently. There are wide ramps coming off the Las Vegas Strip, auto turnarounds, and porte cochères—all good for traffic flow but hardly what you would call urban open space. There has been an attempt to tuck the site’s enormous garages out of sight—employee cars alone number in the thousands—but they are no less visible than at any number of the Strip’s other big hotels. Like its competitors, CityCenter has no real streets. You can glide over the project on a monorail, but there is no pleasant place to walk, except inside the buildings.
Well, that's disappointing.

This inspires an interesting discussion about density and urbanism. Density can be an asset to cities, neighborhoods and urban spaces - but density alone doesn't create good urbanism. To me, City Center sounds a lot like the suburban "lifestyle centers" that I've criticized in the past. They're designed to look like neighborhoods, but few people actually live in them. There's virtually no transportation network (aside from roads connected to a parking lot) and it's not self-sustaining. The only way to keep it going is to constantly bring people in from outside the gates.

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