A veritable ratpack of architects are turning up the style in Sin City, writes Thomas Lane – and they’re not all playing it straight …

The Crystals shopping centre by Daniel Libeskind, The Veers Tower by Murphy/Jahn and The Harmon hotel by Foster + Partners
Left: The Crystals shopping centre, by Daniel Libeskind. Centre, back: The Veers Tower, by Murphy/Jahn. Right: The Harmon hotel, by Foster + Partners.

Given Las Vegas’ notoriety for excess, it comes as no surprise that the latest development to complete there is the largest privately funded scheme in the US.

Called CityCenter, the $8.5bn (£5.3bn) scheme sprawls over 68 acres and is really a city within a city, consisting of hotels, retail, apartments, and of course casinos. In a city full of pastiche, with hotels shaped like pyramids and copies of buildings more famously found in New York, CityCenter is intended to be uniquely Vegas. In an attempt to create a Vegas identity, developer MGM has enlisted a roll call of world-renowned architects. Cesar Pelli has designed a hotel and casino, Raphael Viñoly and Foster + Partners have also done hotels, and Daniel Libeskind has turned out a characteristically angular shopping centre. Then there are the Veers Towers, two buildings of flats by Murphy/Jahn, which, as the name implies, lean outwards by 4.5º.

There has been plenty of UK involvement, as engineer Halcrow is responsible for the structural design of about 40% of the scheme, including the challenging Veers Towers.

Most of the scheme is completed, apart from the Foster hotel. Given that the scheme was partly funded by cash-strapped developer Dubai World, a particularly pertinent question now is whether anyone will buy the flats, stay in the hotels or go shopping in the mall …