Friday, Jan. 12, 2001 | 9:33 a.m.
Hotels and casinos are not the only buildings in Las Vegas, although many people might think they are.
Rising quietly in the shadows of the megaresorts, which run the gamut of taste, is an array of buildings that are capturing the discerning eyes of architects around the world.
Among the structures lost in the glow of the neon are such striking buildings as the federal courthouse, which opened last year on Las Vegas Boulevard, and the even-more striking Lied Library at UNLV, which opened Monday.
A new magazine recently hit the stands to make sure the world knows there is more to this city than glitzy resorts prone to implode at the drop of a percentage point in the profit margin.
Appropriately named Architecture Las Vegas, initially the magazine is slated for an annual release, but editor Phil Hagen says the number of issues will depend on the readership's interest.
"On the optimistic side, we will publish semi-annually and someday quarterly," said Hagen, who is also managing editor of the Greenspun Media Group's Las Vegas Life magazine. "(Similar) magazines, like Texas Architecture, come out every other month. It just depends."
Hagen said the city has grown large enough, and has enough diversity, that it deserves to have a publication "that celebrates architecture."
"The uniqueness (of the architecture) will make this work," he said. "(Our architecture) is not just regional ... it has become an international subject."
The magazine is a joint effort by Las Vegas Life, owned by the Greenspun Media Group (which also publishes the Las Vegas Sun), and the Las Vegas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Randy Lavigne, executive director of the Nevada and Las Vegas AIA chapters, said her organization has been trying for several years to create a publication focusing on Las Vegas. The dream became a reality when Greenspun Media Group joined the effort.
"There is a lot more involved to Las Vegas than just theme architecture," Lavigne said. "Some ugly things have been said about architecture in Las Vegas, but we have wonderful examples of planning and beautiful design, such as the Clark County Government Center, the (public) library system. Terminal D (at McCarran International Airport) is beautiful -- it is well thought out and planned.
"All around us are wonderful examples of architecture. This city can hold its own against any city in the country when it comes to our actual buildings and structures. While the world looks at Las Vegas and says, 'tinsel town, sin city, fluff and stuff,' some serious things are going on here."
Hagen said the magazine will do more than merely look at architecture. "We will open the door for discussion, for better or worse."
Lavigne said the AIA wants to "cause a dialogue among people with other opinions ... (who will have) an avenue to speak out," not only inside the covers of the magazine but also public meetings.
"One of the other things the AIA hopes to do is hold public forums," she said.
Architecture Las Vegas is not meant solely for professionals, but for the general public.
"It's for anyone interested in the city. This publication addresses our building environment." Lavigne said.
An editorial committee, comprised of local AIA members and Hagen, is beginning to put together a second issue. The release date has not been set.
The premiere issue of the magazine (which costs $4.95) has been sent to Las Vegas Life subscribers. It also is available at bookstores and magazines stands throughout Las Vegas, as well as around the country.
"It gives a different kind of image (of Las Vegas) other than just casinos," Lavigne said. "There's nothing wrong with them, but we are more than that. We are a whole community."