From an intriguing boutique casino to an important new fashion venue, architect Ed Vance’s coming projects play to Las Vegas’s growing international renown.
Increasingly, Las Vegas is being lauded for its world-class architecture, and part of the credit goes to Ed Vance.
It’s not whether you fall down that matters; it’s how you get up. If that bromide sounds too simplistic to be practical, meet Ed Vance.
During the recession, Vance, an architect in Las Vegas for three decades, experienced firsthand the bust side of the city’s dramatic boom/bust cycle. His bustling 30-employee firm, Ed Vance & Associates Architects, was reduced to five. “It really felt like a ‘last man standing’ type of thing,” he says. To save the company, he rolled up his sleeves and “learned to do many things others in my field couldn’t—like how to talk to the money people and the developers and, in doing that, how to find projects others could not.”
Now back with a staff of 20 (and growing), Vance is a major force in redefining the look and feel of the Las Vegas Strip. And the projects are coming in fast. Two of his biggest—an Asian-themed casino hotel and an international fashion center—share an important theme: They cater to a global clientele. “Las Vegas is truly an international city for a variety of reasons,” he says, “not least of which is tourism and conventions.”
A rendering of the Las Vegas Central project.
The casino hotel, a $373 million project called Lucky Dragon, is scheduled to open in early 2016. Rather than a huge monolith, Vance designed a relatively compact 10-story building with around 200 rooms. The idea is to offer guests far more personal attention than they’ll find at most other places. “We’re moving toward smaller-scale boutique properties for niche markets,” he explains.
Located on the north Strip, across from SLS, Lucky Dragon fits that bill. All the signage will be in Asian languages, the pan-Asian staff will be fluent in a mélange of tongues (with Chinese top-billed), and five dining venues will “cater to the Asian appetite,” Vance says. The resort’s design and amenities will likewise reflect the many cultures of its clientele, such as an apothecary serving traditional Chinese teas and medicinal herbs, and the room designs will incorporate traditional Asian symbols and imagery. “We consulted with a number of feng shui experts to make sure we didn’t make any mistakes,” he adds. There will also be a 19,000-square-foot casino.
Vance in front of Las Vegas’s World Market Center.
Most of the façade will be bold ruby-red glass— created through a complex process in which two sheets of glass are covered in red film and sandwiched by insulated panels—and that hue will be continued throughout the hotel. “We didn’t want to get literal or hackneyed,” says Vance, “like a ‘finding the Forbidden City’–type thing. We kept it understated and are letting the color element speak.”
In designing his other big project—the international fashion center—the architect had one goal in mind: to boost the city’s world-class cred a few notches. Intended to house high-profile runway shows as well as showrooms and permanent collections from American and international designers, the fashion center (located on I-15 and Russell Road) will feature modular runways, a rooftop pool and show area, and live-stream video capability. In addition, a series of multistory single-tenant towers are planned for notable brands.
A hand-drawn sketch in Vance’s office.
Vance also continues to design for the healthcare field—a critical part of his business—with an ENT ambulatory surgery center that looks more like a resort and a Veterans Administration hospital both in the works. “Medical is fun,” he says. “I love creating a building that supports the healing of the people within it.”
This versatility has helped keep his firm alive in trying economic times. “The built environment is the built environment,” Vance says. “Give me a diverse set of criteria and I’ll coalesce that into a workable solution, whether it’s a fashion show or a surgical facility.”