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January 27, 2015

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CityCenter hopes new signage brings more traffic

MGM Resorts says changes continue in response to customer feedback


Steve Marcus

A building wrap, starting at the base of the Harmon, points pedestrians to CityCenter and the Crystals mall Monday, Feb. 28, 2011.

CityCenter Signage (2-28-11)

A building wrap, starting at the base of the Harmon, points pedestrians to CityCenter and the Crystals mall Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Entrance to CityCenter (11-23-10)

A pair of tourists cross illegally at the entrance to CityCenter on Wednesday, November 23, 2010. Launch slideshow »

When Deutsche Bank opened the Cosmopolitan on the Strip in December, misinformed tourists and some Las Vegas residents mistakenly grouped the new resort with MGM Resorts International’s CityCenter complex next door.

It was easy to see why. The tall, glass towers wedged between Bellagio and CityCenter appeared to be part of the $8.5 billion resort development that opened a year earlier.

But MGM Resorts wanted Strip passers-by to know exactly where their competitors’ property ended and theirs began. To stand out, the company placed a not-so-subtle building wrap on the dormant Harmon hotel with arrows and bold letters stating, “The center of Las Vegas is just around the corner.”

The new signage is part of some fine-tuning CityCenter has done in the last few months to help guests maneuver their way through the urban-like development.

The adjustments aren’t major structural or design changes, but smaller tweaks in response to customer feedback and habits. Executives called for changes to some of the interior and exterior signage throughout the development, added new landscaping and swapped out a few of the food and beverage offerings.

Bill McBeath, president and chief operating officer of Aria, said CityCenter suffers from a lack of signage on the Strip, but the building wrap on the unfinished Harmon helps to fill the void.

“We were finally going to have our pedestrian walkway and north-south traffic on the west side of the Strip with the Cosmopolitan opening,” McBeath said. “We wanted to take that building and communicate to people as they walk over that bridge that you are at CityCenter now.”

Even before Cosmopolitan opened, architecture critics and urban planners criticized CityCenter for not standing out among its flashier neighbors. They called its main entrance cold and unappealing, noting that the cluster of high-rises can be intimidating to tourists walking the Strip.

To soften CityCenter’s façade of mostly glass and concrete, McBeath said crews added new landscaping, taking out some of the stonework and replacing it with planter beds.

Click to enlarge photo

A redesigned "pocket park" with new landscaping is shown at CityCenter Monday, February 28, 2011.

The company also removed trees near the “pocket park” between Aria and Crystals, which blocked views of guests trying to look into or out of the hotel-casino.

McBeath, who previously managed other MGM Resorts properties such as the Bellagio and the Mirage, said the changes at CityCenter are typical of a resort in its opening months.

“When you are looking at something on plans and one-dimensionally — especially when you are designing 18 million square feet of space like we did — until you see it three-dimensionally, you don’t always understand how everything is going to work together,” he said.

When designing Aria, McBeath said it was envisioned the casino floor would be a little dimmer and sexier, but workers heard complaints from guests after opening that the casino floor was too dark. The company installed new lighting in response.

“Until you see the final product of what you intended to build, you don’t really understand all the different relationships between all the finishes and materials,” he said.

Also inside Aria, McBeath said executives noticed that the resort’s interior signage wasn’t as easy for guests to read as they had hoped. The resort replaced about 80 teak wood signs with a more modern, glass-like design that had improved readability.

“People would be standing within 20 feet of a sign to the buffet or the casino cage and they just didn’t read well,” McBeath said. “This building is extremely large, and it is key for people to be able to get where they are going without having to ask someone.”

Aria executives also decided to swap out the modern furnishings in some of the resort’s public spaces for more comfortable furniture pieces. At the View Bar in Aria’s lobby, McBeath said the hard angles of the original furnishings weren’t welcoming to guests. They replaced the boxy white furnishings with plush purple chairs and couches.

The old furnishings, along with other fixtures and accessories from several CityCenter properties, were sold last week at a public auction.

This week brings another change to CityCenter that condo owners have hoped for since purchasing units at the development. A small grocery store, Market Café, opened Tuesday at the Vdara hotel-condo, which will allow guests and owners to better utilize their in-room kitchens.

Click to enlarge photo

The Market Cafe is expected to open Tuesday, March 1, 2011.

McBeath described the Market Café as a concept similar to the gourmet grocery chain Dean & Deluca, often located in posh urban areas in cities like Washington, D.C., and New York. Guests will be able to pick up prepared items like sandwiches and salads, as well produce, frozen foods and liquor.

In light of the store opening, Vdara will be shutting its only restaurant, Silk Road, citing a lack of demand from guests.

“Unfortunately, it really wasn’t consistent with what the guests at Vdara wanted. They want friendlier, faster food in a more casual setting,” McBeath said.

The restaurant will close March 8 with no immediate plans to fill the space.

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  1. The Harmon building is an issue and an obstacle impeding feet traffic into City Center. Once all the ligation is over on who is responsible for the defects of the Harmon, a new structure can be built, or a determination will be made on the best use of this value slice of property.

  2. Maybe one can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but I doubt it.

  3. Pretty insecure for a company that boasted it would have the best development ever seen in Las Vegas. And you have to draw arrows on the side of an empty building to direct people there???

  4. The signs all over the curvy blue glass makes it look like the Riviera on steroids. If they'll add some flashing running lights it can be just like Bill's!

  5. how about a few simple "You are here" maps? The Citycenter complex is a bitch to get around and nearly impossible to get to exactly where you want. If they laid out a few easy general direction maps located near an entrance it would help immensely.

  6. 'Oh, what a web, we weave...when we practice to deceive.'

  7. 'Colorful, new feathers on an old hat.'

  8. Signs to show the unwashed masses with their yard long beers the way.

  9. Perfume on a pig.

  10. The City Center is the biggest example of what a poorly run company MGM International really is. It is too big and is ran by a bunch of bureaucrats. There is no accountability anywhere with the plethora of failures at City Center. Why in the hell the nation of Dubai would have anything to do with MGM International is beyond logic!!! MGM International is the Bank of America of casino companies. They seem too big and unmanageable.

    The company recently sold TI to Phil Ruffin and he has turned that place into a profitable attraction. I wish Steve Wynn would buy back the Bellagio. It would be enhanced and made so much better than what it has been for the past 11 years under MGM.

    The management at MGM International are just fancy bureaucrats who have no clue on how to manage casino resorts. The customer service at MGM resorts has gone to hell ever since they bought all of the other properties. I think it is time for independent companies and investment to buy some of these properties and return them to what they use to be. The Cosomopolitan is a great property and will be even better. KEEP THIS IN MIND PEOPLE: Compared to Aria who overhired for the hotel by thousands and then had to layoff those thousands within a few months, Cosmopolitan UNDERHIRED by 2,500 people just to see how well they will do in the first year...THAT IS GREAT BUSINESS PRACTICE. THEY ALSO HAVE A VERY IMPORTANT EMPLOYMENT REQUIREMENT: ALL EMPLOYEES MUST SPEAK ENGLISH!



  11. They have got a great deal of "Fine Tuning" left to do!

  12. Dear Mr. Baldwin and Mr. McBeath:

    I am a Very Important Contemporary Conceptual Artist and I wish to submit the following proposal to you: I will design and install a series of replica White Elephant Droppings that will guide visitors to CityCenter as they stroll along The Strip. Visitors will be so intrigued when they spot these Droppings along The Strip that they will feel compelled to follow them to their ultimate source -- the Heart of CityCenter itself.

    Not only will my proposed installation be functional, indeed, it will also be thought-provoking and original in that it will challenge the observer to consider every aspect of CityCenter as an allegorical representation of the White Elephant Dropping experience.

    I would propose 500 Droppings at a cost of $10,000 per Dropping, bringing the total cost of this installation to $5 million.

    I hope you will agree that this is an important endeavour, and will stimulate a great deal of intellectual reflection and consideration by observers as it leads them to CityCenter to ponder the profoundly artistic experience that awaits them there. I look forward to getting started so that I may provide you with another important addition to CityCenter's art portfolio, and which will further distinguish CityCenter from any other property on The Strip as it leads the true Cognoscenti to your property.

  13. Wow, quite a bit of hatred from some of these posts. Seems as though there are MANY expert economists and MBA students out there. I am sure that most of you could really run a large company like MGM. I mean really, how hard could it be right? pfffttt.

    Its clear that Mr. Waldrip is obviously one of these expert business men. I am sure his business didn't even blink in 08-09. Right Mr. Waldrip?

  14. The architecture of an 8.5 billion dollar project should not have to depend on building wraps to inform customers how to enter or to make them want to enter. The styling of the entry, the grounds, the walkways, the roads, the shape of the buildings--all should speak to our sensibilities from an unconsious level, saying here is a beautiful and enjoyable place to enter and explore.
    What CityCenter says to me is here is a down town city skyscraper complex with a mismatched group of buildings and a very long street to walk. I'll pass that wrap.

  15. Las Vegas9

    Your numbers don't add-up. Your apparently not a fan of City Center. At least post accurate numbers, otherwise you have no credibility with your dislikes on City Center.

    Why don't you ask the many people who are working at City Center, and the people working at Cosmopolitan about their views on City Center? Or ask the many local businesses that are being partonized by the workers at City Center and Cosmopolitan. You see, if not for City Center there would be no Cosmopolitan.

    Whatever your anger against a project that has helped this city during the worst time, of our time, will go away. In the mean time, there are companies in Las Vegas hiring. One thing they will not do is hire someone with a attitude or a chip on the shoulder. Settle down and take advantage of the opportunities that are currently available, don't get caught up in the negativity. Stay positive and move forward, keep your attitude in a postive zone. You have expressed your dislike, now more forward in a postive manner.

    I sense you have good qualities and can make a difference in a postive way with any company that is willing to hire you. Stay postive and you will stay focus and get what you seek my freind.

  16. As with all new projects, 'boo-boos' are made no matter how detailed the planning. Often, the general public is not privvy to or exposed to the myriad of mishaps. MGM Management alluded to this when they stated that observing CityCenter one-dimensionally in the drawing/planning/building stage is a wee bit different when observing the 'finished product' three-dimensionally in the implementation stage. The more complex the project, the more tweaking is required during implementation (re: enhanced sineage).

    I wasn't crazy about CityCenter when it was being constructed and I'm not terribly fond of it now... but it does ADD to the many varieties of Stay and Play venues in Vegas. And gaming is fun at Aria. Yes, the entrance way is a bummer! But it is not impossible to navigate (although walking into Harrah's is much easier).

    Hopefully, we won't be too hard on CityCenter and appreciate it for what it is (sineage and all). When I visit Vegas, I enjoy the variety of stay, play and dining places that the city offers; from Gold Coast to Golden Nugget to Mirage to Monte Carlo to Tropicana, etc. I'm not necessarily loyal to a given establishment (though I do have my favorites) but rather, loyal to Las Vegas.