News from the AIA Convention and Design Expo in Las Vegas

June 07, 2005 |

Las Vegas’s Steve Wynn to architects: 'Try new stuff'
Why should architects prefer the architecture of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries? That’s the question posed by Las Vegas mega-developer Steve Wynn to more than 1,000 architects that gathered at his new 50-story, $2.7 billion resort-casino. “Leave the comfort of the tried, time-tested, safe designs,” said Wynn. “We’re not sure if we did that [with Wynn Las Vegas], but at least we tried.”

Wynn and his long-time architect/builder, Tony Marnell of Marnell Corrao Associates, discussed the “youthful” architecture behind Wynn Las Vegas, the changing Vegas skyline, and their adventures together while creating some of the city’s most notable resort-casinos, including Mirage and Bellagio. 

Calatrava on art– and the art of politics
Santiago Calatrava said the major problem facing architects today is fixing poor city planning of the past, specifically lack of functional transit and quality housing. “If we architects don’t give an effective answer to the problem of the city, someone else will,” he said. Calatrava said two different scales of intervention, one of embellishment and one of total reconstruction, must be used to fix modern cities.

AIA expands into Japan

Two years in the making, AIA Japan received its charter at a recent AIA executive committee meeting. Japan is the fourth overseas chapter, following AIA London/UK (1993), Continental Europe (1994), and Hong Kong (1997).

Hottest topics for AIA continuing education

More than 35,000 AIA/CES modules were offered last year, says AIA continuing ed guru Thom Lowther. Most popular topics, based on input from panelists at the AIA Continuing Education training session in Las Vegas: 1) anything related to HSW: health, safety, and welfare; 2) anything “green” or LEED-related; 3) security issues; 4) technology; 5) special building types (e.g., laboratories, restaurants); 6) building codes.

AIA sets new attendance record
With 24,444 registered participants, AIA set a new attendance record for its 2005 convention, held May 18-22 at the Mandalay Bay convention center. This marks the third consecutive year a new record was set, beginning with the 2003 event in San Diego, where 20,025 attendees registered. Last year’s show in Chicago attracted 22,159.Las Vegas mayor has grand plans for downtown
A Frank Gehry-designed Alzheimer’s facility will serve as the “gateway” to a new mixed-use development planned for downtown Las Vegas, Mayor Oscar Goodman announced in his keynote address at the AIA Convention. The new complex will include an academic center, performing arts center, city hall, domed professional sports complex, high-density residential, and offices on 61 brownfield acres adjacent to Fremont Street. “When I was elected mayor in 1999, downtown was dead,” said Goodman. “This is the next step in the rebirth of the inner core of Las Vegas.”DBIA says design-build paced to equal design-bid-build by 2010
The number of design-build projects will equal that of traditional design-bid-build projects by 2010, said Harold Adams, FAIA, chairman emeritus of RTKL Associates and chairman of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) at the American Institute of Architects Convention in Las Vegas. “In the last five years we’ve seen a fivefold increase in government design-build projects,” Adams said. “In the federal government, it’s now the equal of design-bid-build, and we project that to increase to all nonresidential design and construction in the next five years.”NAVFAC tool helps architects balance security and LEED
Free web-based tool from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command marries the Defense Department’s antiterrorism standards with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED sustainable design guidelines. Examples: A stormwater retention pond could double as a blast barrier; force-protection walls could incorporate local stone and earth berm, says Dennis O. Talton, NAVFAC’s sustainable development program manager.Perini lands $3 billion contract for next Vegas mega-project
Just weeks after Steve Wynn opened his $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas, construction crews are preparing to break ground on another super-development. MGM Mirage’s Project CityCenter is being dubbed as a city within a city on The Strip, with a 4,000-room hotel/casino, three 400-room boutique hotels, 550,000 sf of retail and entertainment space, and 4,000+ residential units spread over 66 acres between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo hotels. Perini Building, a subsidiary of Perini Corp., was awarded a $3 billion contract to build the first phase. Scheduled completion: 2010.AIA Latrobe Fellow to study healthcare design
Gordon Chong, winner of the 2005 AIA Latrobe Fellowship, will use the $100,000 award to study human response to healthcare facilities. “We’re applying the rigors of university-level medical research to the design of architecture,” Chong said. “We want to take evidence-based design to a higher-level.” Chong Partners will work with the University of California at Berkeley and Kaiser-Permanente Health System to study response to different facilities throughout California in the two-year study.AIA seeks to expand Continuing Education program globally
Thom Lowther, head of AIA’s continuing education program, will travel to Finland this summer to work with the International Union of Architects (UIA) to transfer AIA-type professional education programs to the UIA’s 92 member countries.Three trends revolutionizing K-12 school construction
Three societal trends that are changing how cities build schools were outlined at the 2005 AIA Convention in Las Vegas by Bill Scheel, senior assistant to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon:

1. Funding shortages are forcing cities to cut operations staff and resources, even while new schools are being built to accommodate greater enrollments. Solution: Municipalities should team with public and private entities to share facilities, staff, and resources.

2. Cities are focused on revitalizing their cores. Solution: Entice charter schools, community colleges, and universities to relocate to the city. “Cities that are knowledge centers are very attractive places to live,” said Scheel.

3. Parents expect more educational choices, including facilities, content, teaching methods, and flexible hours. Solution: Public/private partnerships to promote the creation of charter and alternative schools.How to pump up your A/E/C firm’s continuing education program
Tips from Lynn Robbins, AIA, of Seattle-based Mithun Architects + Designers + Planners, winners of a Continuing Education Award for Excellence from the American Institute of Architects: 1) Survey your professional staff annually to determine their continuing education needs; 2) during education sessions, break up attendees into teams and have them compete on how well they learned; 3) arrange site visits to local building products manufacturers to see how products being specified are made. Other AIA continuing education winners: Custom Building Products, Seal Beach, Calif. (commercial stakeholder), and the AIA Orange County (Calif.) chapter.

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