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July 25, 2014

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Water — swirling, spewing, frozen — to entertain visitors at CityCenter

Image

Steve Marcus

A couple looks over “Glacia” a water and ice feature at CityCenter ‘s Crystals retail mall Tuesday, December 15, 2009. The feature is one of five designed by WET, a water feature and fountain design firm based in Los Angeles. Aria, the centerpiece of the $8.5 billion project, will open after a fireworks display Wednesday night. The development is a partnership between MGM Mirage and Dubai World.

CityCenter WET Tour

A water feature named Launch slideshow »

Aria Preview

Employees ready the bar at the Skybox Bar at Aria, the centerpiece of the $8.5 billion CityCenter project, Monday, December 14, 2009. Launch slideshow »

Most Las Vegas residents already know the work of Mark Fuller, chief excellence officer of Southern California-based WET.

Millions of Strip visitors have been awed and entertained by the fountains of Bellagio, one of the signature attractions of the hotel that debuted in 1998, and by the renovated Mirage volcano, redesigned with a grander eruption just last year.

Now, Fuller and his team of Water Entertainment Technology designers have brought five water features to CityCenter, MGM Mirage’s $8.5 billion development that completes its opening with the centerpiece 4,000-room Aria tonight.

Like the public art works that dot the CityCenter landscape, WET’s water features are expected to be entertainment nuggets that will be part of the attraction of MGM Mirage’s newest project.

Each water attraction at CityCenter is named and has features never before used in WET’s roster of attractions worldwide.

“MGM Mirage stressed a desire for world-class water features to match the brilliant work of its esteemed architects,” a company news release says. “The client wanted nothing less than the most innovative technologies, unmatched anywhere in the world.”

Some of WET’s CityCenter attractions are similar to their other Las Vegas attractions in that they’re captivating to watch. But others invite pedestrian interaction and are enclosed so that nobody gets wet.

Here is WET’s new roster at CityCenter:

Lumia: At the entrance to the centerpiece Aria is WET’s own centerpiece, a welcoming fountain adjacent to the property’s main porte cochere.

What differentiates Lumia from other fountains is the high-powered lights at the fountain’s base that shine into the intersection of water ribbons directed by the structure’s stainless steel nozzles.

WET calls it “liquid light” and when the water streams collide, they produce an effect the company calls “water sparks.” Think of a larger version of the water arcs produced in Bellagio’s conservatory.

The programmable shows produce different choreographed patterns, but unlike the choreographed-to-music events at Bellagio’s fountains, the shows run seamlessly from one into the next. High-tech monitors detect when the wind gets high enough to spray pedestrians and will automatically produce “high shows” and “low shows” to match the conditions.

Focus: Along the outer entrance circle of Aria is a 270-foot-long, 24-foot-high water wall, believed to be the longest in the world.

The wall is made of highly textured stone tiles imported from India and, like Lumia, the feature is choreographed.

While most water wall features have a constant speed and volume of water, Focus’ liquid patterns are programmable, and the feature can change the speed, volume and direction of the water flow. At night, the wall is illuminated in white light.

Latisse: A two-story textured glass water wall designed by artist Joel Berman, Latisse has similar volume programming. Located on the casino side of Aria, WET officials say as water flows down the back side of the structure, “it hints at how it would feel to walk under a rippling waterfall.”

Halo: Two WET features are stationed in Crystals, CityCenter’s retail complex, including Halo, an attraction that invites pedestrians to walk among 50 columns of swirling water encapsulated in clear cylinders.

High-power motors spin the water into vortices, producing a mesmerizing tornado effect. Colored lighting beneath the feature turns the water various shades of blue, green, red and gold.

The cylinders are of various heights and some are sloped. Because the water vortices naturally move to achieve verticality, the sloped enclosures produce unusual twisting patterns.

Twenty of the cylinders are above ground, but 30 are below floor level, giving pedestrians the opportunity to peer down into each vortex. Because the feature is programmed with changing water levels and the motors switch directions, the patterns are constantly in motion.

Glacia: WET’s first attempt at taming frozen water, Glacia is a series of 15 frozen columns that protrude from a pool on the mall floor. Rods within the columns chill or warm to carve sculpture patterns.

Lights illuminate the columns, which are of varying heights of up to 15 feet, and the feature can mix various levels of air during the freezing process to produce frosty white or crystal clear columns.

It’s a visual experience that never repeats itself, WET says. A 7-foot column closest to pedestrians allows passers-by the opportunity to touch the ice. The Glacia experience is accompanied by a tonal poem written by Grammy-winning former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, who also wrote and performed the soundtrack of the revamped Mirage volcano show.

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