Even before the economy tanked, few would have called the scope of CityCenter anything less than incredibly ambitious. The 18-million-square-foot development, which officially opened on the Las Vegas Strip in December, includes almost 6,000 hotel rooms, 2,400 condominiums, 38 restaurants and bars, a convention center, a shopping mall, a Cirque du Soleil theater, and a 150,000-square-foot casino. All of this was designed and built in just over five years for $8.5 billion, making CityCenter reportedly the largest and most expensive commercial project in U.S. history.
CityCenter was conceived to be more than just big. MGM Resorts International (until recently MGM Mirage), which owns the complex with Dubai-based Infinity World, had a set of lofty goals that included LEED certification and the creation of an urban core for the notoriously sprawling city. Instead of the pattern of isolated buildings spread out on big, open lots found elsewhere on the Strip, CityCenter needed to be “vertical, dense, and sustainable,” says J.F. Finn, AIA, project executive for Gensler. The firm acted as an extension of MGM’s design department, overseeing approximately 250 consultants and a cast of marquee architects that included Daniel Libeskind, Helmut Jahn, and Norman Foster, as well firms such as Tihany Design and the Rockwell Group for the interiors.