In the theme capital of the world – where visitors can sample pastries at the base of the Eiffel Tower or ride a roller coaster past the Statueof Liberty – “restraint” is a relative term. Yet the owners of Las Vegas’ Shops at Desert Passage decided a more modern, classic concept better fit the city’s new profile and the mall’s new adjacencies. The newly reopened mall is now the Miracle Mile Shops, a reference to fancy shopping districts in Beverly Hills, Manhasset, N.Y. and Coral Gables, Fla. It’s part of the new Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, which replaced the old Aladdin Hotel in April.
The Aladdin was opened in 1966 and hosted Elvis’ 1967 wedding to Priscilla. Desert Passage followed in 2000, a response to the success of the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and general demand for improved shopping in Las Vegas. But the casino ran into financial trouble and was sold in 2003 to a partnership of Planet Hollywood and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. After a long run with a Moroccan theme, the mall was bought by Tri Star Capital and RFR Holding for $241 million.
Another $75 million later, the magic carpets and genie lamps are gone, replaced with a sleek and modern look, dark wood and contemporary architecture.
“At some point, a theme is neither unique nor current anymore in Las Vegas,” says Wendy Albert, director of marketing for Miracle Mile Shops. “We saw an opportunity to utilize the Planet Hollywood rebranding and create a design in a similar vein for the shopping center.”
Heading Miracle Mile’s retail makeover was Gensler of Nevada, in collaboration with The Friedmutter Group (Las Vegas) and Studio B (New York). But the transformation wasn’t a simple task. “Initially we found that removing all of the ornamentation was too costly,” says John Bricker, principal and creative director for Gensler of Nevada. “So instead, we painted out some of the existing design elements in a palette of whites – from bright whites to off gray – to save money.”
Designers also had to contend with a cloud-covered ceiling, cobblestone floors, Kasbah lanterns and the kiosks of a Middle Eastern bazaar. Existing signage wasn’t clear and entrances weren’t well-defined. And that’s just the interior. Desert Passage had been criticized as having too little presence on the Vegas Strip and being uninviting to passersby, both from the sidewalk and the hotel.
“Las Vegas is highly punctuated with visual elements,” says Bricker, “so we took a very graphic approach with a strong color statement and a bold circle/square pattern to define the exterior against the clutter of the city.” That punchy red motif appears on the façade, interior signage, storefronts, kiosks, wallpaper and even advertising.
Large windows add to the open and inviting frontage. A bright graphic identifies the entryway and encircles a concrete façade to lead shoppers in. Three 50-foot-high LED screens blast promotional content, advertisements and graphics over the Strip.
The modern pattern complements the new polished black floor and silver-leaf ceiling. Crystal orb chandeliers accent entrances with hints of that bright red color.
Retailers are on board with the new concept. Nevada’s first H&M opened at Miracle Mile last fall, as well as the state’s inaugural True Religion. Urban Outfitters and Trader Vics, a Polynesian-style restaurant with multiple levels and a patio facing Las Vegas Boulevard, are also new to the center.
Client: Boulevard Invest LLC, Las Vegas -- David Edelstein, principal; Russell A. Joyner, executive vp, general manager; Wendy Albert, director of marketing
Design/Architect: Gensler of Nevada, Las Vegas -- Bob Stefko; Mark McPherson; Vadim Gaber; Walter Hunt, vice chairman; John Bricker, principal, creative director; Lance Boge, principal, design director; Tom Bittner, senior associate, project director; Tom Rosenkilde, senior associate, project architect; Thomas Mesuk, project architect; Mieko Oda, senior associate, project manager, graphics; Milosh Sekulich, project manager, project manager; Hyung Chang, designer; Kylie Kaiser; Victoria Giles; Rafael Medina
Design: Gensler New York, New York; Studio B, New York
Exterior Architecture: The Friedmutter Group, Las Vegas
General Contractor: Flagship Construction Co. LLC, Las Vegas
Outside Design Consultants: Johnson Lighting Studio LLC, New York (lighting); Halcrow Yolles, Las Vegas (structural engineer); RHR Engineering Inc., Las Vegas (electrical consultant); Rolf Jensen & Associates, Las Vegas (fire safety and exiting)
Audio/Visual: Kelley Technologies, Las Vegas; Pyrotek, Las Vegas
Ceilings/Walls: Benjamin Moore, Montvale, N.J.
Fixtures: Rotunda Bar, San Diego, Calif.
Kiosks: Sand Mountain Inc., Newport Beach, Calif.
Flooring: Gibson Tile Co. Inc., Las Vegas
Wood: Rode Bros Flooring, Las Vegas
Furniture: DKG Group, Toronto
Lighting: FFD Inc., Miami; Mojave Electric, Las Vegas; Bombard Electric, Las Vegas
Signage/Graphics: Yesco, Las Vegas; Casino Lighting & Sign, Las Vegas; Sign Xpress, Las Vegas; Vision Sign Inc., Las Vegas
Wallcovering and Materials: Donghia, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Photography: Jeffrey Green, Las Vegas