In the valley’s newest homes, it’s out with faux med, and in with real mod.
Simple desert landscaping is the order of the day, as shown here in this Via Tazzoli home by Blue Heron.
The city of Las Vegas, with its desert surroundings and breathtaking views of both mountainous nature and the glittering Strip, is a perfect setting for stunning architecture. But at new luxury locations like Ascaya, with its million-dollar home sites, it’s often what you don’t see that really counts. Gone are the days of gilt-covered everything, the massive ornate houses that Michael Gardner of Studio G Architecture refers to as “stucco-terranean.”
“It really isn’t anything except a bunch of stuff,” Gardner says about the McMansions of the past. “The age group starting to be able to afford luxury properties don’t want what they grew up in.” Minimalism and clean modern designs are what’s hot now. And despite the pristine appearance, these homes are equipped with the latest technology hidden inside their bones.
“The biggest push is really for technology, appliances, and other unsightly-but-necessary items to be discreetly and seamlessly integrated into the overall design,” says architect Daniel Joseph Chenin.
“Clients are demanding smarter and smarter homes,” agrees architect Henry CJ Hoogland. “We try, as much as possible, to make those things go away: switches and lighting controls and sensors and window shades. We can basically control the entire house off an iPad.”
An iPad, of course, is itself a triumph of minimalist design, something packed with functionality when you need it but that easily disappears from mind when you want to stare out the window—which is the guiding philosophy of design at Ascaya.
Gardner, who designed the first home at Ascaya, capitalized on the high-elevation setting by creating a cantilevered roof structure where the master bedroom is perched above the rest of the house. “There are no columns obstructing the views,” he says. “It reinforces the verticality of the house. It gives you this very surreal feeling that you’re hanging out over the valley.” It’s a feeling he describes as so clean and Zen-like, it’s like a weight being lifted off your shoulders. And that’s something more and more people want in device-driven 2016, when they’re overwhelmed with stimuli.
“I think our lives are saturated with many things vying for our attention,” Hoogland says. “Electronic gadgetry, relentless advertising, and media. For many, minimalist architecture is alluring because it’s the absence of all those things.” At Ascaya, Hoogland designed a home that capitalizes on the site’s spectacular vistas above all else. The entry courtyard with glass on two sides is a graceful reminder that Vegas is all about indoor-outdoor living.
Clutter is banished in this rendering of a kitchen at Ascaya by architect Henry CJ Hoogland.
Chenin, who recently completed a home at the Ridges, factors in the microclimate of each particular site when he designs homes and also weaves in natural elements. “I like to incorporate a range of materials that can be extremely precise,but simultaneously random, such as marble, concrete, brick, wood, and metals,” Chenin says. “Their preciseness allows them to be intermixed with one another, but many of their natural properties and variation allow for the unexpected and natural beauty to show through.”
Custom home firm Blue Heron, which is also designing at Ascaya, has gone as far as trademarking the term Vegas Modern for the new-school high-end homes it has created in the valley. “Once you go into one of these homes, you fall in love with it, the design, the layout, the indoor-outdoor living,” says broker Kamran Zand, who’s done more than a dozen resale deals for Blue Heron homes. “Some I’ve sold multiple times. These sellers buy and sell and trade up to a bigger home.”
Ascaya is no doubt betting that its mod squad of home designs attracts big-bankroll buyers. Other architects involved include the renowned Richard Meier and Marmol Radziner.
“The clientele in Vegas is getting more sophisticated, more design-savvy,” Gardner says.” Their expectations and the level of design they require is elevated. For the longest time, Las Vegas home design was influenced by Strip architecture, trying to recreate the Mediterranean.” Now it’s about celebrating Vegas’s own gorgeous backdrop. Enjoy the view.