Old Vegas of the ’60s
EVERYONE KNOWS what Las Vegas, the city that never stops reinventing itself, looks like today: a “World” theme park, with a half-scale Eiffel Tower, fake Italian lake village, and illuminated pyramid of Luxor. My personal favorite is New York New York, a nostalgic vision of a lost city, complete with corner cigar stores and brick courtyards strung with naked light bulbs.
Architect Rafael Vignoly called Vegas “un-architecture, cartoon-like, a horror show.”
I happen to love the place — for a day or two. I’d never want to live in Vegas, even though, as the New York Times reported yesterday, housing bargains abound.
And there are some very cool mid-century houses there. The one above, from 1963, is known as the Caddyshack. It’s by Palmer and Krisel, the architects responsible for the coveted Alexander houses of Palm Springs.
Groups like Atomic Age Alliance and Friends of Classic Las Vegas have been trying to prevent the demolition of postwar icons, with some success. The 1961 La Concha motel, below, a swooping concrete shell designed by Paul Revere Williams, a Hollywood-based architect, was sliced up last December and hauled, piece by piece, to the Neon Museum, an incredible repository of vintage signage, which will use it as a visitor center.
A few savvy Vegas brokers specialize in mid-century modern housing. Check out Jack LeVine’s blog and website, Very Vintage Vegas. The man has done an exhaustive and fascinating survey of decorative concrete block patterns used as sun- and privacy screens.
The turquoise beaut at the bottom of this post is from Mark Minelli’s site, Sin City Modern.
Call Vegas architecture flamboyant, excessive, even ugly, if you like.
Just don’t call it boring.