All posts in: Las Vegas Studio

36 Hour Charrette

Wednesday’s presentation of work completed during the 36 hour charrette proved to be successful in terms of voicing initial ideas to the class. Overall the composition of work was done in a clear and concise manner and was presented thoroughly by each group. There are still several gaps present, as was expected from such a short charrette period, but each team now has a strong base from which to move forward. Below are a few comments and questions that will hopefully help to guide each team as they progress in their work.

Team Madmen: Great presentation. Your proposal was clear through both your boards and your verbal presentation. The idea of refocusing pedestrian attention to the alleyway behind the Victory Hotel is a great way of addressing the current site conditions (DTLV prison) and a great way of reactivating a dilapidated service thoroughfare. However, I still question whether problems may arise for the businesses that are located along this alleyway. There still seems to be some issues with visibility that may cause a lack in pedestrian interest and may also be a serious problem in terms of crime and vandalism. It seems in your proposal that most of the block will only be activated during business hours, and only the social club will be utilized during the evening and night. How might you adjust the proposal so as the alleyway becomes more active and visible?

Dem Fremont Girls: Also a good presentation. Overall the proposal seems very minimal, which is good considering the site context and your duty to reuse the existing buildings. It appears that you are maintaining the character of the existing hotels very well, but I personally would like to see a move towards incorporating a larger community based program on the site. I recall you saying that you intend to include an urban farming program, but have you explored the possibility of incorporating an educational or health based program? It appears this site may be large enough to do so and is in a location that would benefit greatly from such programs. Arnie is addressing the issue of homeless veterans in DTLV, but what’s happening in the area for the other homeless groups?

Victory Nugget: Probably the best composition of presentation boards in the class. Most of the moves you made in your proposal were clear through your diagrams, but many things were still blurred, such as the alleyway and power station locations. The move towards a denser site is good, but it seemed as though the group was still struggling with how to address the Victory Hotel. It will definitely be a challenge to increase density while still celebrating the Victory Hotel. Maybe for this proposal you should consider moving the VH to a different location on the block, or figure out a way to make it a more cohesive part of the new building you’re proposing.

Bermuda T/Vet Vigil/Downtown South: There are still several gaps in the plan, but overall I believe my team was able to take a very large site and produce a solid proposal within the 36 hour period. In terms of presentation we may have fallen a little short, but I look forward to reassessing our master plan and delving further into the details of the site. Some other items that need to be addressed include the Veterans Village expansion and pedestrian circulation throughout the site. What needs to be done in order to expand Veterans Village, and what needs to be included in the expansion to make it a more complete and cohesive program? We will be moving forward with an additional teammate who is currently majoring in landscape architecture. This addition will allow us to better tackle such a large site and will also help us develop a more coherent and cohesive landscape plan.


Form-based code – Part 2

Monday’s presentation on form-based code brought to light several glaring holes in the overall research. First and foremost we discovered that one major issue was overlooked in the presentation; that issue being: why are we researching form-based code, and why is it important to the City of Las Vegas? Along with this information gap we also discovered that minimizing the number of presentation boards is not always the best option. Because of the scope of information and the importance of understanding Las Vegas form-based codes, we have agreed to expand the presentation layout to include more diagrams and details for each transect type. Additionally, there were several observations provided by our peers regarding presentation content. Most peer feedback indicated that there is a need for more specific details about form-based code such as, allowable building height, thoroughfare types, frontage types, and sustainability measures.

Looking beyond form-based code, there was a lot of eye-opening information provided by peer presentations. Some of the more shocking facts that will guide us along the design process include the astonishing homeless population, and climate factors such as the severe wind and heat. It was also interesting to learn how the districts are laid out, and to which districts site one and two belong. The average income level of the community is also a major issue to be considered in this project. According to peer research, the average annual income of the zip code surrounding our sites is approximately $13,000. Figuring out how to execute a balanced redesign of downtown Las Vegas that responds to both the tourist economy, and those inhabiting this community will prove to be difficult. Some information gaps that still exist after the research presentations on Monday include the following:

What are the short and long-term economic goals for the redevelopment of downtown Las Vegas and how specifically do these goals affect site one and two?

How are sustainability measures currently being employed in sites one and two and what are the limitations of sustainable design in Las Vegas?

Are there additional buildings in sites one and two that should be considered for historical preservation?

What significant historical events impacted and continue to shape the neighborhoods located in the immediate vicinity of sites one and two?

What is the pattern of life in site 2? More specific /tailored demographic information for the area would be useful. What types of employment do members of these communities have? Are they commuting daily for work? What are primary and alternate means of transportation and are they effective?

What are the city rules and regulations on sign placement and appearance in locations other than the historic byway?

What precedents do we have of buildings that have effectively responded to character and climate?

By Friday we intend to redevelop and refine our research on form-based code in order to fill the above mentioned information gaps. These refined boards will be located on the Las Vegas Project page at I’m looking forward to seeing the revised research of my peers, and hopefully gaining more insight that will assist in answering the questions above.


Las Vegas, NV & Form-based Code

What is form-based code? Form-based code is any regulation governing the physical character of a building, such as building height, parking, and ways a building is permitted to interact with the street. Form-based codes are generally adopted to maintain the physical nature of a particular neighborhood or community.

So how is form-based code being implemented in Las Vegas? Currently the City of Las Vegas is in the process of developing its own form-based code. This draft addresses a wide range of parameters including public frontages, thoroughfare types, civic spaces, and building forms required for each transect.

What does this mean for Arch 546? Because the form-based code for Las Vegas is still in draft form, this may allow the opportunity for Arch 546 students to test and potentially revise its provisions. The goal as we proceed into the design process is to use the Las Vegas FBC draft as our baseline, but also draw from the existing form-based codes of Phoenix and Cincinnati to determine the best FBC solution. We will also utilize the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) step-by-step guide as a guiding tool for FBC development.

What is the Goal for Monday’s research presentation? For Monday we will develop a graphic presentation that outlines the current Las Vegas FBC parameters. Accompanying this outline will be FBC parameters that have been borrowed from Cincinnati and Phoenix, and assessed for relevancy. The complete presentation will be a go-to guide for Arch 546 as we progress through the design process.