Las Vegas’ CityCenter is Changing Skyline..

Las Vegas’ CityCenter is Changing the Skyline and Proving the Future is Now 



Despite dour warnings about America’s economic future, Las Vegas is still rapidly evolving. Never have I looked out a window in any hotel along the Strip, from Mandalay Bay to the Wynn, without seeing a crane and construction somewhere in the view.

The crowning glory of this phenomenon is sure to become MGM/Mirage Corporation’s gargantuan $9.2-billion mixed-use development CityCenter, created in association with Dubai World and instantaneously becoming the most expensive privately funded property ever attempted by our unstoppably upwardly-mobile species.

CityCenter is scheduled to open late in 2009 and is an unprecedented architectural paradigm for the ideal modern city with potential to redefine contemporary urban design throughout the world. Best yet, each building within CityCenter is being designed to pursue Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Featuring a fourth-mile of Strip frontage and an ultra fast and strikingly state-of-the-art tram system which will whisk visitors and residents alike from the Bellagio through a massive retail complex and on to the Monte Carlo, CityCenter is currently being built with lightning speed on 76 primetime acres, replacing the dilapidated old Boardwalk Hotel and that long line of low rent t-shirt shops and helicopter tour sites located between those two hotels.

The centerpiece of CityCenter is the 61-story, 4,004-room Aria Hotel and Convention Center, featuring two curved towers and an all-glass 150,000-sq. ft. casino at the very top of the complex—which immediately defies longtime Vegas history and logic, which insists that windowless casinos made to camouflage time of day make its often zombie-like visitors gamble longer. The Aria’s sophisticated, contemporary design by Pelli Clarke Pelli will serve as the gateway to all CityCenter has to offer, including the entire complex’s overall groundbreaking design meant to introduce a dazzling vertical city in the heart of Vegas’ sprawling horizontal grid.



Harmon Hotel


The 400-room Harmon Hotel, Spa & Residences launched last January and 38% of the property’s additional 207 residences were snapped up with lightning speed by eager buyers, as this bold new addition to the Vegas skyline had been eagerly awaited by individuals wanting the exceptionally exclusive atmosphere that will be central to the Harmon living experience. The ultra-chi-chi Mandarin Hotel and Casino, owned and operated by the five-star New York-based Mandarin Hotel Corporation, will also provide a similarly world-class experience for its future fulltime residents and visitors, mirroring the Harmon with 400 guest rooms and over 200 permanent residences as well.

The Vdara Condo Hotel, designed by Rafael Vinoly, will be a 57-story ebony tower with 1,543 condo units; architect Helmut Jahn’s Veer Towers, two silhouette towers of glass, will house 674 modern loft-like residences; and The Crystals, CityCenter’s 500,000-sq. ft. retail district designed by Daniel Libeskind (of the new World Trade Center fame) and featuring $40-million worth of modern sculptures and installations by world famous artists, will offer international luxury brand stores and high-end couture under a crystalline canopy of unprecedented brilliance.

The Crystals will also incorporate the all-new Cirque du Soleil Theatre, which in 2010 will debut an original spectacular featuring the music of Elvis Presley. The Cirque’s usual creative combination of live musicians and singers, projections, dance and the latest in multimedia sound and lighting technology will offer the company’s signature emotional bond with the audience as it brings The King back to Vegas for millions of his existing fans—and create a buzz that will enable the persona of Elvis to reach untold numbers of new fans.

Cirque founder Guy Laliberté commented of the project: “This new creative challenge is exactly what we strive at accomplishing in the development of our new productions. Cirque du Soleil is thrilled to be involved in CityCenter and we are particularly honored to be entrusted with this assignment. We are working closely with our partners to ensure the public will have an unforgettable encounter with the King of Rock and Roll. Elvis had a unique relationship with his adoring fans in Vegas and a large part of our mission is to recreate the excitement and the spirit of joy he generated here.”

Bobby Baldwin, President and CEO of Mirage Resorts, MGM/Mirage’s operating division, said: “We are thrilled to partner with our friends and colleagues at Cirque du Soleil, who are known the world over for creating memorable entertainment experiences. With this show we will bring together Elvis, an icon of Las Vegas entertainment history, with CityCenter, a destination that represents the future of this remarkable city.”

There’s no doubt that MGM/Mirage’s amazing new CityCenter is quickly confirming the 21st century’s amazing cultural and lifestyle revival of city living at its finest—especially in ol’ El Vee.

For information on CityCenter as it unfolds, check out

TRAVIS MICHAEL HOLDER teaches acting and theatre/film history at the New York Film Academy’s west coast campus at Universal Studios. He has been writing about LA theatre since 1987, including 12 years for BackStage, a 23-year tenure as Theatre Editor for Entertainment Today, and currently for As an actor, he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Best Actor Award as Kenneth Halliwell in the west coast premiere of Nasty Little Secrets at Theatre/Theater and he has also been honored with a Drama-Logue Award as Lennie in Of Mice and Men at the Egyptian Arena, four Maddy Awards, a Award, both NAACP and GLAAD Award nominations, and six acting nominations from LA Weekly. Regionally, he won the Inland Theatre League Award as Ken Talley in Fifth of July; three awards for his direction and performance as Dr. Dysart in Equus; was up for Washington, DC’s Helen Hayes honors as Oscar Wilde in the world premiere of Oscar & Speranza; toured as Amos “Mr. Cellophane” Hart in Chicago; and he has traveled three times to New Orleans for the annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, opening the fest in 2003 as Williams himself in Lament for the Moths and since returning to appear in An Ode to Tennessee and opposite Karen Kondazian as A Witch and a Bitch. Never one to suffer from typecasting, Travis’ most recent LA performance, as Rodney in The Katrina Comedy Fest, netted the cast a Best Ensemble Sage Award from ArtsInLA. He has also been seen as Wynchell in the world premiere of Moby Pomerance’s The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder and Frank in Charles Mee’s Summertime at The Boston Court Performing Arts Center, Giuseppe “The Florist” Givola in Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui for Classical Theatre Lab, Ftatateeta in Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra at the Lillian, Cheswick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Rubicon in Ventura, Pete Dye in the world premiere of Stranger at the Bootleg (LA Weekly Award nomination), Shelly Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross at the Egyptian Arena, the Witch of Capri in Williams’ The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore at the Fountain, and Dr. Van Helsing in The House of Besarab at the Hollywood American Legion Theatre. As a writer, he has also been a frequent contributor to several national magazines and five of his plays have been produced in LA. His first, Surprise Surprise, for which he wrote the screenplay with director Jerry Turner, became a feature film with Travis playing opposite John Brotherton, Luke Eberl, Deborah Shelton and Mary Jo Catlett. His first novel, Waiting for Walk, was completed in 2005, put in a desk drawer, and the ever-slothful, ever-deluded, ever-entitled Travis can’t figure out why no one has magically found it yet and published the goddam thing.