I caught my first glimpse of Vegas from at least one hundred miles outside the city, when its giant halo of white light became visible driving westward through the desert at night. The glow epitomized everything disturbing about our Herculean efforts to make unnatural environments thrive where they don’t belong. I doubt any amount of greening could ever diminish that glow, but the MGM Mirage is on a mission to bring a little relief to the rampant consumption of resources that characterizes Las Vegas.
MGM’s Project CityCenter, slated to open in 2009, is a $5 billion development that will include a 60-story, 4,000-room hotel/casino, two 400-room, non-gaming hotels, about 500,000 square feet of retail shops, dining and entertainment venues and 1,640 units of luxury condominiums. In partnership with the German engineering company Siemens, MGM will build its own $100 million central energy plant that will establish a more efficient and sustainable source of power for the development.
MGM aims to achieve a silver LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council (the middle level of five). To accomplish this goal, they will also have green roofs and a water reclamation system, an immensely important inclusion for this location. Other names with a creative hand in the project are Sir Norman Foster, Bellagio creators The Light Group, Cesar Pelli and Kohn Pedersen Fox. Spokespeople for Project CityCenter characterized it as a “Paradigm-shifting project…that will redefine the Las Vegas experience and influence contemporary urban design throughout the world.” Indeed, bringing a concept as seemingly polar as environmental-consciousness to a mecca of consumption will be nothing short of monumental.