CityCenter, the $11 Billion Las Vegas 'Urban Metropolis,' to Feature Celeb Chefs, Evil


Photograph by City Center Las Vegas

The end is nigh, and as we could have guessed, it's going on in Las Vegas. CityCenter, pretty much the craziest development of high-rises ever built this side of Dubai, with claims to be "one of the great urban places of the world," will open in December. A reminder of headier days, this city-within-a-city that totals 67 acres cost $11 billion to build, and that's after the project was scaled down somewhat. And what does that kind of money get you these days? A lot, especially in Las Vegas where the recession means the real estate market has plummeted from dizzying, unparalleled heights. But it's still Vegas, and that means, among other things, excess, shopping, public art, gambling, and lots (and lots) of big-name chefs and restaurants.

There will be dozens — literally dozens — of high end restaurants in the facility, most of them helmed by celebrity chefs. So far, the list includes Masa Bar by Masayoshi Takayama; a farm-to-table restaurant (cause, you know, there are farms in Vegas) from Shawn McClain, his first restaurant outside of Chicago; a seafood restaurant by Michael Mina; something from Julian Serrano; a Jean-Georges Vongerichten steakhouse; an Italian place from Sirio Maccioni that "will channel old time Italy with its fantastical, Fellini-esque décor"; pastries and chocolate by Jean-Philippe Maury that will feature the world’s largest chocolate fountain using 2,100 pounds of chocolate; and Lemongrass, a modern Thai restaurant designed by AvroKo. The center will also be home to Twist, the first American restaurant by three-star Michelin Chef Pierre Gagnaire featuring contemporary French cuisine, and not one but two concepts from Wolfgang Puck. These are just the restaurants that have been announced, and many more are expected.

Consisting of a gigantic casino, two "boutique" hotels, some condos, a "condo-hotel," and an entertainment/retail district housing over 500,000 square feet of retail and dining, CityCenter seeks to "bring a true center to The Strip." It took no less than eight big--name architects to design the thing, including Daniel Liebeskind and Cesar Pelli, while New York firm Ehrenkratz, Ekstut and Kuhn masterminded the whole thing. Other signs of ridiculous excess: a $40 million contemporary art collection featuring the works of Maya Lin (an 84-foot silver cast of the Colorado river that hangs from the ceiling!), Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Frank Stella, and Henry Moore.

Honestly, the whole project seems a bit doomed. First, it's partially owned by DubaiWorld, the same company whose ambitious The World project was recently prematurely ended. The real estate market has basically collapsed in Las Vegas and tourism is down, which we imagine hasn't been easy on the existing hotels and casinos. Also, so far six people have died while working on the buildings, and there was a walk-out amongst the construction crew to protest the dangerous working conditions. As if you didn't need more proof that CityCenter is clearly the work of some sort of real estate anti-Christ. Now, excuse us, we have a violin to go play.

Video: CityCenter Promo

—Paula Forbes

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