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The window trick of Las Vegas hotels (schedium.net)
994 points by edent on Jan 29, 2023 | hide | past | favorite | 344 comments



Presumably, he means a single window we see is made up of 4-6 panes and those panes are bigger than a single story

I am having trouble seeing the 4-6 windows combined from the photos of the Bellagio. The close up does not help.

The first mentioned buildings seem brutalist esp. the second one. It is a form of utilitarian architecture that has great appeal to me. I think in part because it is rare now.

I find them far more pleasing to the eye than the giant glass clad high rises that was the fashion for a long time. I have read that it is now going out of fashion, but I have not yet seen any examples locally.

Wanting to give my dogs new and exciting places to sniff and pee I try to walk around in different neighborhoods in the area. As have been doing this for many years now and the unexplored neighborhoods are getting farther and farther out.

About two years ago, at random, I found a brutalist single family dwelling. It is a big house for a single family but it is the smallest such building I have ever seen, it is beautiful. (to me)

I truly stands out from all the other nearby houses. I have visited that area often to take pictures and just look at it. I would love a chance to see the inside.

If I had the money and I most certainly do not, id love to live in a house like that. It would make giving directions a lot easier as well.

I wonder if there exists brutalist "tiny homes". That would be something to behold

For an explanation of the term brutalist see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A9ton_brut


> I am having trouble seeing the 4-6 windows combined from the photos of the Bellagio. The close up does not help.

You can see it better in this high-res photo from Wikimedia Commons [0]. Each of the square windows appears to span four rooms on two floors, while the lower floor rectangular windows appear to span three floors, making it six rooms.

0: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bellagio_hotel.jpg


Do the windows span multiple floors?


Yes, it's easier to tell in night time photos:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fe/Las_Vega...


Thank you! I couldn't see what the article was telling me I should from the photo the author used. This photo makes it very clear how the windows are designed.


And a fun hack would be people on the upper floors making every version of a Tetris piece by turning on or off lights in the appropriate room :-)


That makes it far more obvious, cheers :)


Zoom in on the wikimedia commons high-res one (thanks for that high res link!), and then look at the balconies in the middle column of the building. See the door in the balcony? Each of those four-window blocks is two stories high. Which means each "pane" is pretty big -- others have said each of those four-window blocks is actually four hotel rooms.

The picture in the OP didn't make it totally clear, which left me wondering too, although I figured that's what they meant so it must be that way -- the fact that we have to look so carefully to verify it, I guess shows the success of the "illusion"!


Also there's only a balcony every other floor, again fooling the casual observer into seeing one floor where there's two.


Also handily enabling price differentiation and therefore improving profitability...


That’s so odd, so the floor above can look down into the balcony below


Thank you!!


Yeah. What looks like 1 window from the outside is actually 4 windows for four rooms, two below and two above. The scale is hard to get a sense of but those subwindows are quite wide floor-to-ceiling windows in each of those rooms (at least in Treasure Island’s case; I’d assume others are similar).

That’s why it shrinks the apparent visual scale of the hotel, which has twice as many floors and twice as many rooms per floor as it seems from the “window” frames outside.


A lot of things about the Strip in Vegas, deliberately or not, really throw your sense of scale off. "Oh it's just the next hotel over, how far can it be?" A ways it turns out.


Totally. “Ah just over there no problem”.

30 minutes later…


That is the absolute worst. You walk halfway there and it looks exactly as far away as when you started.

We watched Penn and Teller at the Rio. You look at a map, see its a block over from the strip, no problem. You walk out your hotel room and see the giant Rio sign, totally fine look how close it is!

20 minutes later you stare in horror at the same sign wondering how it hasn't gotten an inch closer to you.


The reason for this is the same reason they employ the window trick in the headline: the properties on the strip are enormous, scaled completely outside most people's day-to-day experience; the Bellagio property, for instance, covers 77 acres and has just shy of 4000 rooms.


This is the scale that you need to wrap you mind around. The maps are deceiving. Stayed recently at Park MGM to attend conference at Aria. They share the same physical "Block" so it appears they are close. It still took 30 minutes of walking through connecting hallways and up and down escalators to traverse between the two hotels/casinos.


I had the exact opposite experience in really dense cities funnily, you look at a map and see dozens of streets between you and where you're going, and it seems like it's half a city away. In reality it's just a 15 minute walk.


Yeah, depends on what you're used to. I've grown up in fairly dense cities so I was not expecting the density of the strip.

It doesn't help that there's nothing in between the Rio and the rest of the strip. I've gone up and down the strip before and there's at least things to keep you occupied for those distances. But seeing nothing but that stupid sign is hell.


Had this experience recently in Kyoto, where it was amazing how "far" you could walk in 20-30 minutes, in a city designed for walking.


How are you getting "a block over" from the map? Just because almost no streets go through there doesn't make it a block! The strip hotels, especially those on the west side, are several blocks deep (counting their parking lots) themselves, then there's a dead zone of the freeway, then the multiple blocks of the Rio. There's little room there for practical streets although in most places there's one street behind the casinos.


Since when is there a standardized distance for a "block"? My entire point is that one block (ie. the distance between two streets perpendicular to the one you are on) is much larger on the strip than in a regular city.

Going down Flamingo, the only intersection between the Bellagio and the Rio is I15. You could say maybe a block and a half, but that's still nowhere close to 30 minutes' walk.


When you have objects far bigger than a typical city block of course you have few streets. That's your fault in map reading, not anything deceptive about the city.


Considering how several people have anecdotally also had the same problem, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that my and everyone else's map reading skills are just fine.

> not anything deceptive about the city.

The entire purpose of the strip is to be deceptive, so it's hilarious that this is even an argument.

Sorry that you're so defensive when minor criticisms are levied against a stretch of road in your city. It's certainly a weird hill to die on, but you do you.


Is that really how "city blocks" are supposed to be modelled? AFAIK a "block" is one atomic unit of a particular grid of city streets — and a city can have multiple such grids, with different block sizes. Like a computer with disks with different block sizes. It's my impression that the Las Vegas strip forms its own distinct grid, with very large blocks.


No. The Strip doesn't have a separate grid. Rather, it has many objects which occupy multiple grid cells. I'm looking at the Strip and surround on Google as I write this--and it is completely clear that the Strip properties are far above normal city blocks. (Admittedly, I'm a backcountry hiker and thus more used to map reading than your typical city dweller that always uses Google or the like.)


The point is that someone accustomed to regular city downtowns is used to ordinary city blocks and hotels that sit within a block. A quick glance at a map doesn't really communicate the scale of the casinos on the strip or the distance you need to walk to get from one to the other in many cases.

(It's not all that bad. The Venetian really is more or less across from the Mirage and Caesar's Palace is then reasonably close.)


And it's worse if you want to cover distance that is at odds with where you are intended to go. e.g., from oversized parking behind casinos. You end up walking on roads without footpaths/sidewalks, climbing up/around service docks, etc.

The strip has always reminded me of the old western towns (at least, in movies) where there is a high street of grand facades, but it's chaos behind.


That place was not meant for humans to exist in it. At least not at the scale it happens right now.


It's car sized, much of American signage and affordances are designed to be viewed from your car at speed.


No one is driving down the Las Vegas Strip at speed.

It's about a certain type of spectacle.


It’s not really any different from other places that require environmental support to make it livable (e.g. New York).

The only reason Las Vegas even has water issues is because of water rights, not anything that makes it inherently worse than the rest of the southwest.


Its proximity to the Colorado river arguably makes it inherently better than most of the rest of the southwest


I always blow away my step goal in Vegas, and that's even though I spend at least 4 hours a day at the tables.


It’s quite easy to imagine if you combine the inside shots for the rooms[1] with the outside one.

1: https://bellagio.mgmresorts.com/en/hotel.html


Yes. A comment on the post points to the TASS building in Moscow, which nicely illustrates this trick at a smaller scale: https://discovermoscow.com/en/places/dostoprimechatelnosti/z... — at first glance and from a distance it seems to have four floors. But it has nine, as is clear if you look more closely or compare nearby buildings (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Moscow_T... is the same image).


Yes, it is a bit hard to tell from his photos but obvious when you are there in real life.


Each of the square windows appears to span four rooms on two floors, while the lower floor rectangular windows appear to spam three floors, making it six rooms.


I am surprised brutalist became popular. Concrete ends up really weathered over time and to me you end up with drab and dingy looking buildings after a while: “oh that building is from the 70s”.

I guess there were practical reasons in the beginning to not focus on adding additional finishes?


The whole point of brutalism was that Concrete doesn't wear much over time. A high pressure hose will remove 'weathering' of concrete buildings very effectively and cheaply. I think your problem arises not from concrete but from these buildings often being public (including public housing) and having shoestring maintenance budgets. You spend the same to maintain most other materials and they will have fallen down by now, or at least parts of them would.

A good example of one where they did care a lot about the finish and its lasting finish is the Barbican in London - there's a little about it here [0]

[0] https://www.barbicanliving.co.uk/barbican-story/construction...


>Concrete doesn't wear much over time.... A high pressure hose will remove 'weathering' of concrete buildings very effectively and cheaply.

Concrete eventually starts spalling, and high pressure washing actually accelerates the spalling process. The reason these buildings aren't washed more regularly is because of that tradeoff; it's not (generally) because of maintenance budgets. Once you get spalling, maintenance becomes expensive. The Barbican can afford it, but this is one of the reasons a lot of brutalist buildings in Eastern Europe are getting sealed and painted.


> I think your problem arises not from concrete but from these buildings often being public (including public housing) and having shoestring maintenance budgets.

This is what I was thinking looking at that first Hong Kong building--it would look a lot nicer if it wasn't so dirty.


It's possible to tint concrete and use different tints for different sections to make it less concrete-ish.


It was a design choice to celebrate the material being used - concrete. I think only architects ever really loved them.


I’m a huge fan of brutalist architecture and am not ann architect.

I live in a brutalist townhome and it exemplifies the things I love about the style, lack of ornamentation, function over form, yet scaled and appropriate to its location.

The simplicity and usefulness of the house lends it as much elegance as it needs.


It's the appearance of function over form. That's why USSR used it as propaganda. Concrete is terrible surface material because it is impossible to maintain and repair.


No. The concretes function may not be optimal, but it is there to hold the building up, to form the walls, to provide conduits for people and services, etc.

It is not a facade, it is not cladding, it is the functional building its-very-self.

Brutalist buildings celebrate their exoskeletons.


The USSR used it as a cheap means of trying to meet a massive housing shortage first and foremost.

It abandoned the far more ornamental Stalinist style for brutalism as part of Khrushchev's push for that.

Note the far more ostentatious buildings under Stalin and Stalin's rejection of Le Corbusiers extremely radical proposals for redevelopment of Moscow in favour of far more traditional designs.

To the extent it was later used as propaganda, that was a follow on effect once stagnation forced doubling down on construction that had initially been intended as relatively short term cheap housing.


You get that you're criticizing a house you haven't seen, right?


We've all seen enough post-Soviet cities to make an educated guess.


lol i don't think so.


My father was an architect and designed brutalist buildings back in the 60s and 70s, some of them windowless. By the 90s he had come to regret this work deeply.


I wonder if we will feel the same about “minimal” design in the future. I really don’t see anything beautiful about a white box with black windows, yet architects seem obsessed with it.

Probably because it’s called good design yet it’s almost the cheapest possible design outwards. Convenient. But I think in 30 years we will facepalm at these white boxes we call houses.


These things often oscillate around certain aspects. We bounce between ornate and simple over history for example. Minimalism is handy because it's a cheap and hard to mess it up. Like pop music.

Look at McMansions, which is a cohort of styles that are much easier to get wrong, and there are many objectively bad homes. But for minimalism, the worst you can often say is it's boring. Correct, but boring.


My pet theory is that it became popular in an era where buildings were judged by black-and-white photographs of them. In real life bare concrete is drab and grey - but in a black-and-white photograph textured concrete is one of the more interesting surfaces to look at.


I don't buy this theory, brutalism comes chronologically after color photography.

Also, more importantly, buildings are judged live by who sees them.


> Also, more importantly, buildings are judged live by who sees them.

They should be. But in that period of time there was a whole lot of internationalism even as international travel wasn't cheap enough to be routine. So you could imagine a committee commissioning a famous architect like Le Corbusier from another country when most of them had only seen his buildings in photographs - and while colour photographs existed, printing them was expensive, so most widely circulated photos would have been black and white.


My understanding is Brutalism arose when building codes still had limits on window size and proportion of glass vs other materials on the facades of large buildings. This prevented the glass curtain towers that became popular later until codes changed.

Brutalism embraced this constraint as well as the most expedient materials for building skyscrapers. Intellectually and aesthetically I like this choice of honesty in reflecting materials personally.

Where Brutalism failed is similar to other grand modernist projects: it failed to engage properly at the human scale, creating environments that look striking, but that also read to most people as cold and alienating. In practical terms this sort of grand architecture usually fails to anticipate how humans will actually use the spaces, leading to spaces that are opposed to humans organic behaviors.

All that said, when Brutalism is tempered with empathy, and combined with interior design that both features and softens its starkness, I quite like it. The old library in my home town was brutalist.

This is the exterior: https://th.bing.com/th/id/R.8b7a56ab55fbd5227b8d5c04be176e56...

Unfortunately there's no photos online of the old interior, but it did a good job of humanizing the starkness.

On the other hand, the exterior also showed the flaws of brutalism, having wide empty featureless grass plains that I never once saw anyone use for relaxation, a picnic, etc, in two decades of living in that town.


Stone also gets really grubby over time, but for some reason that still looks okay but the concrete doesn't so much.


Additional flourishes cost money.

Keep in mind, that at the time these were built, these were generally meant as rapid responses to cheaply house large amounts of people with basic living standards. After the war, most places had most of their housing stock destroyed, and whatever was left was also in high demand due to postwar baby booms, and for rapidly developing "Asian tiger" economies like Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, rapid urbanization.

When you need to house millions and your budget is paltry, aesthetic is one of the first things to get chopped. And for many of the people who would live in them, having a unit with its own running water and electricity, toilet, bath and kitchen was a significant upgrade, especially if their previous residence was a tin shack in a slum or a refugee camp.


I think our tastes just changed.

It’s like vinyl floors, it was the rage at some point and people really valued them. Or heavily decorated wallpapers. So many of that stuff is just considered fugly now.


The functionality of vinyl is making a comeback, we just make them look like wood now.


Vinyl has never become unpopular in the Netherlands. Especially because most rented flats don't allow wooden floors for noise reasons. Vinyl gives a similar though cheaper look but dampens noise a lot more.


which is the most terrible, fake and cheap looking way how to bring it back


I thought that was the purpose of using concrete: that it weathers and develops a much nicer patina than many other buildling materials.


It was made to be ugly by people so traumatized by war that they no longer believed in beauty.


This comment has proven to be very unpopular, but I stand by it. Do you guys think it a coincidence that such an ugly anti-humanist style was developed in the immediate aftermath of a huge and brutal war?


>I am surprised brutalist became popular

it never was popular, it wasn't an organic movement. It was pushed by the Soviets and those sympathetic to them in Western governments and academia who used tax payer money to construct hideous buildings


I’m not sure why you’re framing an effort to construct a ton of housing as efficiently as possible as some spooky Soviet conspiracy. Maybe governments and academia were just sympathetic to the idea of using that tax payer money on cheaper buildings, would you prefer they pay more to suit different aesthetic tastes?

Tangentially, speaking of non-organic movements, the history of the CIA funding abstract expressionist art in the Cold War to serve as a foil to Soviet realism is fascinating. Arguably there are echoes of those influences in this conversation.


The essence of brutalism's success is not about leftist propaganda or whatnot. It's simply a byproduct of war, and of the postwar economic boom.

Basically, cities were left levelled [1], and the postwar population and economic boom created an intense housing and building shortage over a few decades. new construction methods centered around concrete proved cheaper and faster, and helped bridge that shortage.

Brutalism can also be pretty pleasant when it's well done - which most of the building in that style aren't, due to being build as fast and as cheap as possible to address the situation at hand.

[1]: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/france/articles/the-story-...


I don't think so. Initial Soviet architecture wasn't brutalist. Stalinist architecture was in fact very classical inspired. You can see that in the seven sisters buildings in Moscow. Even the late Soviet era blocks were not brutalist. That style came up in the UK and was more popular in the Western world than outside of it.

Brutalism like all other styles is a mixture of the requirements of the time and a response to the culture at the time. The building features the original article is railing against is simply poor design. A poorly designed classical inspired building will look exactly as bad.


Le Corbusier tried pushing his designs on the Soviet Union, and Stalin rejected it in favour of a far more ornamental style.

The push towards stripping back ornamentation gained traction in the west long before the time Khrushchev was able to push for this in Soviet construction.


I see how brutalist architecture may be endearing because it looks so dated, like retrofuturistic imagery usually does. But take a a moment at imagining a city where most buildings are really high slabs of grey concrete darkened by damp and pollution and try not to feel depressed. That kind of architecture was born from the need to build fast and cheap in order to avoid slums. Architects who embraced those projects invented it a style and aura.


You described most eastern European cities built under the Warsaw pact.

Albeit, as a Pole myself I think soviets created the best and most livable and efficient neighborhoods I've ever seen in the world.

There was no shortage of green spaces, parks, benches, people spent a lot everything was close on foot, public transport was efficient.

American style suburbs where development is horizontal rather than vertical are miles and miles of nothing where everything is far and requires a car.

Post 1990 economic gains killed soviet style neighborhoods as they were not designed for so many cars, people don't have as much space to socialize, kids have to go more far to play because parkings are put in those spaces.

I kinda hate cars for that.


Absolutely! It's easy to find it wanting in comparison to middle-class Western living, but my East German relatives still wax lyrical about the day they got to move from the cramped, war-damaged room in an old townhouse to the apartment in the newly-built "Platte", clean, dry, "modern", washing lines on the lawn out the back by the playground on the way to the tram stop and the kindergarten, the doctor's kids playing with the factory worker's... It was an efficient way to provide decent living space with limited resources.

And that's setting aside the question of why that system was so impoverished and what it chose to invest in. But the architects and urban planners deserve some praise.


I actually did not think about Eastern Europe. I was more thinking of my western european country where it traded poor people inside the city in slums for poor people outside the city in almost decent buildings. I should have emphasized more that those buildings were really better that the slums that hosted the common people before. But yeah, cars ruin everything. Even the live of car drivers.


I prefer the suburbs with the car over dense housing. So much nicer to have tens of acres to yourself and expansive parking lots at the places you want to go to. It really works for me over having to take public transport and live in close quartered apartments.


This is a good test to apply to architectural styles. People often cite Fallingwater (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Fallingw...) as a triumph of modern architecture. In my view, it only really looks good because of its surroundings. If you'd erase the trees and river, it wouldn't look good anymore, especially if you zoom in to the rounded off smooth brown slabs. If, on the other hand, you erased the house and kept the trees and river, it would still be a beautiful scene. If you replaced the modern house by any old watermill constructed by 18th century peasants, it would look just as good as what a famous modern architect was able to achieve. Therefore, I claim people's aesthetic senses are primarily responding to the trees and water, and not to the product of the architect.

A similar phenomenon occurs when architects place a modern building in a scene of beautiful classical architecture, sometimes even connecting the new building to the old. The "beauty" of this type of modern architecture is parasitic on pre-existing beauty and cannot stand on its own.


Part of architecture is working with the surroundings. If anything I'm more sold on Fallingwater than I was before.


That's fine, selecting a beautiful location takes a certain amount of skill. Not as much as designing a beautiful building, but still. The issue is that this approach doesn't scale. We can't all live in a forest on top of a river. At some point, you have to build a city where you have lots of the given architecture. You can have a city center made entirely out of classical architecture, or such a city center with an interesting sprinkle of modern architecture. But if you build it entirely out of modern architecture, it will not be interesting, nor beautiful, nor hospitable.


Not just site selection, but working to make the building cohesive with its surroundings. Like how the stone foundation rises from the natural stone, and the waterfall seems to come from the house itself.


Definitely, almost any house would look good sitting on a frickin water fall.


There is just something oppressive about them. It makes you feel insignificant and the whole thing feels inhospitable. The concrete also gets too hot when sunny & too windy due to the long-flat alleyways it creates.

UMass Amherst's campus is famously too-brutalist [1] for the university's 21st century tastes. From my years there, the embarrassment was for good reason. The buildings make you feel all of the things I mentioned above.

Brutalism works when it either contrasts contrasts with its surroundings. Implant concrete-laden sharp-shapes into nature and the contrasting outcome[2] is beautiful. Even America's most famous house : Fallingwater [3], uses huge concrete slabs exclusively while looking absolutely stunning. Another form of contrast is the Velasca Tower [4] which standout out like a sore thumb when set against its very Italian surroundings.

Brutalism wears on you the second it is used as a template for huge repeating projects. It has good shock value. But, do it enough times, and it is exhausting.

[1] https://www.darrenbradleyphotography.com/post/umass-amherst-...

[2] https://archive.is/P30RD

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallingwater

[4] https://goo.gl/maps/qo3XGFoabPj1VJa59


Any city with a single aesthetic feels oppressive to me. Design needs to serve people, not vice versa.


You may like this brutalist church in Palo Alto.

https://sika.scene7.com/is/image/sika/usa-first-methodist-ch...


Ok, that is pretty cool.


looks like something out of planet of the apes!


Meh, to round


It's not that small but Brandlhuber built a single family brutalist building fairly recently called Anitvilla: https://www.archdaily.com/627801/antivilla-brandlhuber-emde-...


I struggle to imagine someone actually living there. To me it looks like an art piece, and perhaps it is only intended as such.

The PVC curtains seem particularly icky to me, reminding me of naff shower curtains and hospitals.


Just looking at it made me feel cold, physically and spiritually. Also the acoustics are probably terrible.


This is awesome, I didn't know what this style is called. I love these environments though, they can be paradoxically cozy. Strategic lighting, right furniture, maybe wooden elements and it's a dream.


Looks great! I would completely dig living in such place.


This looks like a mixture of a building in a war zone and a house-sized prison. Looks very repulsive to me and I like brutalism.


Feels like an unfinished parking garage.


I love it, my wife would hate it


I had the same reaction. They staged it to increase the starkness. If they'd used bright, natural fibers in the interior it would go a long ways towards making it feel more livable.


It looks like a building site.


Here’s site showing closeup of the four pane panel window:

http://www.vegastodayandtomorrow.com/windows.htm


The site linked therein shows this even better. In the third photo, compare the building on the foreground vs background.

http://www.vegastodayandtomorrow.com/dunes_bellagio.htm


The most controversial part of the transition from the Dunes to the Bellagio was that stupid golf course! Wynn bought the property because it had an artesian well and accompanying water rights. They should have listened to him and did canals in downtown/old Vegas - that overhead screen is just meh.

I remember eating at the Top of the Dunes restaurant as a kid - we would sometimes go there for Sunday brunch. Right before they demolished the Dunes to build the Bellagio they had a property-wide auction and the entire property was open during the process. I went through it with a couple of friends and we went up to the top of the Dunes - and I was shocked at how small it was vs. what I remembered from being a kid. I think the dining room was maybe 4 tables wide and 10 or so long - the space was TINY. But I guess being a kid and surrounded by windows on three sides made it feel much larger back in the day.


Wow, that is money pic, showing was looks to be two different scale buildings.


It would appear the linked article plagiarized from this site (vegastodayandtomorrow). I mean, the concept of "window trick" and every hotel used as an example, is identified first right here.


Winston Churchill famously said, "We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us."

I agree with this and believe we should make beautiful structures. I’m not sure much architecture since the 1950s in the west really does this. Modernism was the last consistently great style imo. Post Modern styles just seem so temporary and self indulgent which I suppose reflects our time.


Churchill in that quote was making an argument to rebuild the House of Commons exactly as it was before getting destructed, rejecting new ideas.

If anything, I think the 50s architecture opened the door to new ideas, helped us see what works and what doesn’t. Villa Savoye is a bit from before the 50s, but it basically feels like it could be built today it wouldn’t be out of place in any bit.

TBH I’m glad the 50s architects opened the future instead of clinging to the past.


Kind of weird you make a statement that values post modernist/international architecture while using modernist architecture as an example of why it’s good. Even still I’d say that was getting to the beginning of the end in many ways. Glass houses are stupid for numerous reasons.

Even your extremely arrogant musing on “clinging to the past” sums up the problem with post modernist ideas. You think we suddenly know better than thousands of years of experience. That much of what was done in architecture (and everything else) wasn’t just old ideas that were stubbornly held onto but rather the result of thousands of years of refinement about what works and has meaning.


Yes, it was a weird way to put it, I was expressing that the modernist/international architecture trend stood the test of time and is still valued today. It's not just some fad in reaction to other trends.

> Glass houses are stupid for numerous reasons.

I don't know how much glass you see in "Glass houses", so I'd agree there can be extremes (same as for any style). Now, normal houses I've seen built in modern style are very pleasant to live in, highly practical and I wouldn't want to get back to a 19th century house short of getting paid millions to do so.

> You think we suddenly know better than thousands of years of experience.

Those thousands of years of experience brought us new techniques, new insights on what works and what doesn't. Builders have constantly moved forward for these thousands of years. People in the 12th century didn't stop innovating telling themselves "why would we know better than the 3 thousands of years of experience that led us here".

We stand on the shoulder of giants, to me it's our duty to push the envelope and not stand there ordering buildings to be exact replicas of what came before.

When I look at the Gare du Nord in Paris, I'm not lamenting that they didn't keep the dark and gloomy roof panels that used to be there for decades. I'm super glad it became a warm, luminous and welcoming place instead.


Yeah I hear you, building on the shoulders of giants is best. But I do feel like a lot of post modern stuff changes the way we think of buildings by designing from the inside out. So we are left with ugly structures (like the majority of houses built since 1950) and corporate offices, etc.

It feels like we optimize for the wrong things because the tech allows us to. We build bigger at the expense of quality. Seeing 3000 sq foot homes with a small number of vinyl windows, vinyl siding, laminate flooring, etc is weird. But engineered wood and trusses let us build big, ugly spaces for cheap.

Before I cone off as too much a crank there is a lot of great post modern stuff. Especially more recently.


"On similar ground it may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please."

--Thomas Jefferson


"The ideologists of socialist realism understood perfectly well the role played by architecture in the creation of human consciousness; they realised that the right architectural ‘setting’ can influence one’s way of life and perception of reality."

https://culture.pl/en/article/polands-surprising-socialist-r...


You might enjoy the movie Columbus (2017). It's a drama about two people connecting through their passion for architecture with gorgeous shots of the modernist/brutalist buildings in Columbus, Indiana.


Would you share a picture of this brutalist house?


I love how people claim brutalist buildings are egalitarian, when it's the wealthy that have the money to never have to see the ugly things.


FYI dont need to escape, you can use IRI:

https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Béton_brut


You'd love walking round the South Bank of the Thames or the Barbican in London.


The most successful Brutalist designs always seem to be softened with trees, curves, and water - which are the opposite of bare concrete.

The South Bank Centre is on the Thames and is decorated with trees, and the Barbican has a central water feature and garden.

They're also fairly opulent on the inside.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/imageserver/image/%2Fmethode%2Fti...

Trellick and Balfron Towers have some trees now, but didn't have much greenery when they originally opened.

https://designanthologyuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/web...

The order/variety observation is absolutely right, and a core feature of practical aesthetics across all domains. Successful aesthetics are a fine balance between surprise and predictability. Even something as basic as proportion is based on comprehensible non-random relationships.

The Wundt Curve describes how too much order and too much chaos are both unsettling/boring.

https://researchportal.port.ac.uk/files/8060373/COXj_2017_cr...


As a resident of the Barbican, it is part of our lease that we maintain plants on the balcony. This significantly softens the exterior and adds variety the linked article discusses.

Coincidentally the fountains were fixed yesterday after years of being turned off.


What date does the central heating get turned off this year?


Probably end of April, but usually depends on the weather a bit.


Are you allowed to use fake plants?


living the dream!


Similarly, in recent years people have been talking about "Tropical Brutalism" (e.g. https://www.dezeen.com/2022/11/28/architecture-project-talk-... , https://somethingcurated.com/2019/10/24/the-evolution-of-tro...), and I think a lot of what is appealing about it is the contrast between bare concrete and lush greenery.


That combination is also extremely Bond villain, and who doesn't dream of being a Bond villain?


It's a great point. Singapore and Japanese cities can be built quite raw and oppressive because of the wild density, but in both nature is snuck into every nook and cranny. In Singapore it has been a strong architectural design choice, and in Japan it's the cumulative actions of everyone putting pot plants all over the place and leaving "weeds" and moss to grow through on fences and walls.


So I know that pot plants is the term outside of the US for potted plants. Pot plant here means marijuana and I'm dying at the idea of Japanese apartments being covered, inside and out, with various strains of cannabis. I'd like to imagine there's dwarf varieties, lovingly shaped and maintained in the corners of the living space.


I'm reminded of Habitat 67, which looks like a utopian future in most pictures with greenery: https://s3-ca-central-1.amazonaws.com/building-ca/wp-content...

And like shipping containers stacked haphazardly in pictures taken in the winter: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e3/Ha...


The Brutalist house is very interesting! Do you have a photo to share?


> utilitarian [brutalist] architecture that has great appeal to me. I think in part because it is rare now. I find them far more pleasing to the eye than the giant glass clad high rises that was the fashion for a long time.

Reminds me of https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2014-11-16.

"Giant glass clad high rises" are not a fashion -- they're popular because most people in the U.S. and Europe like the way they look.

In some sense these pretty glass buildings are a symbol of American ideology. Free markets tipped the balance from the art elite, who wanted people to live in brutalist slaughterhouses, toward the common people, who like their optimistic, futurist buildings and are willing to pay for them.


>In a lecture about the universal characteristics of classical architecture, professor Nathaniel Walker argued that human beings crave two things: order and variety. If there's too much order, it's boring and oppressive. If there's too much variety, it's chaotic and unpleasant. In his view, classical architecture all over the world aims at creating a "delicate balance between order and variety."

It's how 'fractal' things are. There is at least one 3b1b video about this. I think humans prefer a fractal number of about 1.5 or so, which is about what nature is.


" I think humans prefer a fractal number of about 1.5 or so, which is about what nature is."

Is it the Golden ratio you refer to maybe (~1.6)?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio


Absolutely not. Unless you have a strong mathematical reason to expect it to show up, instances of the golden ratio is largely numerology bullshit.


^citation required


Here are some articles on why the golden ratio having supposed aesthetic properties is a myth:

https://eusci.org.uk/2020/07/29/myth-busting-the-golden-rati...

https://plus.maths.org/content/myths-maths-golden-ratio

https://www.fastcompany.com/3044877/the-golden-ratio-designs...

So it's more like, citation required for any scientific evidence it does have unique aesthetic properties. At the end of the day, it's just a myth that keeps getting repeated, not much different from anything else in:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_misconceptions

(Which also mentions the golden ratio in one of its bullet points.)


This reminds me of film "analysis" that shows how the director keeps creating wonderful triangles between three points of tension, and our eye naturally finds such triangles pleasing.

Neglecting that any three points make a triangle, so this is basically just saying "a frame with three things in it".


On one level there’s some intellectual wanking about triangles, then as you point out any shot with thee things will have a triangle. I wonder, though, ignoring any attempts to over-analyze, if three is a nice number of things to have in a shot. The viewer can only focus on so many things after all.

Three is also a sort of especially unspecial number. Zero things is sort of special in the sense that there’s no concentration of focus (shot of a landscape that just establishes the environment). If the focus is on one thing, then that’s really drawing a ton of attention to that thing (camera zooms in on the murder weapon and lingers). Two things can often be focused on the contrast between them (the villain towers over the hero). Three is the lowest number that doesn’t have a ton of baggage.


Odd numbers of things in a shot is a rule of thumb in framing.


Even numbers of things have a tension between the center of the group and the center of one of the things.


Interesting! Why’s that?


Well, as with anything related to aesthetics, it looks good.


Especially so in an exponent...


Humans tend to prever Fractal Dimension 1.3-1.5 (in 2D imagery)

https://stud.epsilon.slu.se/2116/1/Pihel_J_110524.pdf


I’m not sure that someone’s Bachelor thesis should be given this much weight.


Certainly as much as a blog post. I think a better argument would be that it's not peer reviewed, but still weak.


Swedish humans tend to do so. Might not extrapolate to the whole world


Specifically, college students from Malmö University...


No.


Very interesting. Know of any buildings which embody this well?


Huh I've walked in front of the Bellagio hotel many many times and I never even thought about this, but it's totally true.

Those windows are massive but the proportions are deceptive. Neat.


It reminds me of building a simple home or structure in Minecraft, and then trying out a "build a house" tutorial where the proportions are completely different. But for good reason, and the result is pretty legit.


Here's an explanation I found persuasive for why the 60's and 70's buildings don't appeal to many of us: https://commonedge.org/the-mental-disorders-that-gave-us-mod...

In short, the designers of these buildings experienced trauma during the wars that changed their brains, in a way that makes human features upsetting. Most buildings reference human features in some way (mouth, eyes), and this modernism avoids that and calms their brains.

It aligns nicely with the astute observation about the windows, in that they humanize these large buildings.


Or maybe it’s a form of abstract ‘high art’ like jazz and you don’t understand it. I studied architecture and I understand how to interpret what these designers were trying to do with the opportunities provided by the new technology of reinforced concrete. There was a lot of hubris in the post war period and a lot of experimental stuff was built. Some examples are poor designs, some are incredible.

Here’s an example: In the 80’s, in London and elsewhere in the UK, plenty of brutalist towers were demolished and replaced with more traditional brick two story houses, only for the residents to realise that they had taken a big downgrade to smaller darker houses, and were still living in a community with the same social problems as before that people said would be fixed by changing the style of architecture.

Brutalist architecture is a branch of modernism, like jazz and abstract paintings. Most of it is experimental, some of it is shit design and sticking plastic ionic columns on it wouldn’t fix it. I don’t think you can seriously dismiss the whole genre as the product of mental illness.


You're implicitly denying that there are options other than aping the past or large blank/monotonous facades.

New materials could be used for designs with a mix of scales of features.


That doesn't answer the question of "why did anyone let them build this crap". Why didn't the non-brain-damaged architects get to put up buildings?


And also the conclusion that modern architecture is literally the result of brain disorders seems a bit too much.


It's a ridiculous premise but as to why let an architect build how they want? And why do they all look so similar?

Just fads. Same way web site designs follow trends.

You can revert a website with some difficulty, good luck reverting a 5-10 building project!


In Paris suburbs, they replaced this:

https://www.gettyimages.fr/detail/photo-d%27actualit%C3%A9/j...

Hope that helps you understanding.


Brutalism might be better than shanty towns, but it's still ugly af.


It was also cheap af to build in series, something that can't exactly be said of Vegas casinos.

I assume that, once time has made its effect and most of these buildings have been replaced, people will have good opinions about the remaining ones.


Brutality architecture is cheap and easy. It uses minimal materials: typically concrete and steel, and is simple to construct for poor people.


There theory is that pretty much everyone in Europe and USA had PTSD from the Great War.


World War II more so than the Great War. The former basically destroyed most of Europe, displaced millions and resulted in the massive collective traumas from deportations, mass murder, carpet bombing, etc.

Brutalism really only emerged in the 1940/1950 after WWII.


That question has an obvious answer : those architects are better at architecture than normal brain architects. Architecture is mainly functional, not esthetical


Citation needed? Architecture is ofcourse esthetical.


Aesthetics take the backseat when a two-digit share of your population has no roof. People these days tend to forget that these buildings replaced shanty towns.


> In short, the designers of these buildings experienced trauma during the wars that changed their brains, in a way that makes human features upsetting. Most buildings reference human features in some way (mouth, eyes), and this modernism avoids that and calms their brains.

How could anyone make a statement about "human features upsetting" someone like Le Corbusier. This is entirely ignoring 1/2 of his career. And the OP throwing in the Unite Habitat system with the rest of the specimens was a bit galling.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Cit%C3%A...

https://www.themodernhouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/le...

That's actually pretty progressive work for 60s and none of your local area housing projects look remotely like Corbusier's buildings, I assure you. (I did some delivery for a charity in NYC and I've seen the inside of those horrid places.) 2 entirely different mindsets and intellectually sloppy to throw in developer driven copycat crap with the works of architects like Corbusier or Mies.


How do most buildings reference human features? I don't think most buildings reference human features at all. Buckingham palace doesn't have a mouth or eyes.

You'd have to stretch the meaning of "eye" or "mouth" out so thin it becomes "opening"...


I don't buy this theory, otherwise it would've been much more prominent in the late 40s and 50s, not decades later.

Also it would've shown in other forms of art whereas the post war artistic trauma lasted to the early 50s in movies and no longer.


War babies needed to grow up, study, and gain work experience before being in a senior enough position to approve construction of a brutalist tower. 70s seems about right to me. Once there were consumers for this type of architecture, suitable producers would gain seniority as their tenders got accepted.

But I also don't buy the theory that it was the war, as I think you see similar brutal design in Nazi and Facist architecture.


> 70s seems about right to me.

That's post Woodstock and so many cultural and artistic changes.


To be fair, Nazi were formed by previous war too. But the theory is unconvincing to me too. It is not like WWI - WWII was the only period and place in producing atrocities.

If there was something on the theory, you would have similar styles every after every genocide/war worldwide. Art and architecture history is way more complex then that.


Got to love the articles description of the Autistic Spectrum as "not processing visual information as normal."


Yeah, it's a great example of begging the question. It might explain why their designs are different from neurotypical architects (although I didn't notice any kind of control group), but according to the author it makes them bad.


Animals also have eyes and hands, and people of the past were also traumatized, but did not decide to have buildings without something expressing features such as eyes and hands (how would you even)


Does the Treasure Island Hotel have more human features than the “monster building” in the article ?


I saw that one in the comments section, and I pretty much only agree with the last sentence. We should probably make more human-friendly architecture. However, the rest of the article reeks of eugenics. "Giving input to people who deviate from the norm harms our society". Ironically, that's actually what was bad about Le Corbusier, he was an architectural fascist. It wasn't that his mind processed visual stimuli differently, it's that he hated the way other people saw things. Here's some quotes from "The City of Tomorrow":

"There is only one right angle; but there is an infinityde of other angles. The right angle, therefore, has superior rights over other angles; it is unique and it is constant"

s/right/white/ and s/angle/race/ and you probably have a direct quote from Hitler.

"things which come into close contact with the body, are of a less pure geometry"

You don't have to go around trying to give fake diagnoses to Le Corbusier to find where things went wrong. You just have to listen!


I think the author missing the biggest reason for these styling differences. This is their function. A long term dwelling serves a different function than a hotel. All of the residential buildings have more personalization on the outside of the building than hotels allow. I'd also like to add that the shown residential homes show much more wear and age than the hotels do, making it hard to do a side by side comparison.

I'm always driven towards residential areas where the personality and style of the owner comes out in the property. In the US many suburban HOAs, apartment management and condo boards will put arbitrary limits on the appearance of the outside of the home. I can't stand the single family neighborhoods where all the homes were build at the same time, with the same builders, in the same style. In my neighborhood lots are of varying sizes, homes are built in a ~fifteen year span with different styles, and there is no hoa.

Condo buildings can generate the same level of sameness if several of them are built in the same neighborhood around the same time, with similar style, and enforce strict limitations on outside visual appearance. We see this a lot in the US when an area is "upzonned" and developers flock to build "luxury" apartments and condos. I prefer buildings where residents put furniture on balconies, hang decorations from their window, grow plants outside, and have blinds open displaying rooms styled differently than their neighbors. I prefer living in urban neighborhoods where the buildings are of varying ages and show different architectural styles.

Hotels can do enforce a very high level of uniformity. Additionally the amenities, furnishing, styling, and art are very much at the whim of current styles. This increases the "order" and decreases the "chaos". The order comes from function, and I wouldn't want to live in a hotel like environment.


> I think the author missing the biggest reason for these styling differences. This is their function. A long term dwelling serves a different function than a hotel. All of the residential buildings have more personalization on the outside of the building than hotels allow. I'd also like to add that the shown residential homes show much more wear and age than the hotels do, making it hard to do a side by side comparison.

Yeah I'm surprised nobody else mentioned this. The residential buildings have window AC units and people hanging laundry on their balconies to dry, two things you'll never see at modern hotels (the ones pictured don't even have balconies).

There's no apples to apples comparison happening here.


Came here to make the same comment. Patios are valuable in a residence and windows that can, you know, open, is pretty important too. If you have patios, people will put stuff there - lawn chairs, laundry, surfboards, plants, hang flags, etc... comparing a residential building to a hotel seems like apples and oranges.

Though, that's not to say that the original point about the "window trick" isn't valid, just that it's not fair to compare buildings of different functions. Hotels can get away with it whereas residential buildings, not-so-much. Edit: office buildings can probably get away with it too.


The German Democratic Republik (East Germany) had the problem of needing housing for many thousand people in the 1970s. It was not possible to build enough flats. The only way they could scale up their efforts was through standardisation. Berlin Marzahn and other areas were villages back than. The Marzahn Village for example still exists today.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wohnungsbauprogramm_(DDR)

People wanted individualisation, but the housing was needed. So they put color in their balconies, which made them look like color patches. And there existed big murals on the ends of some houses.

After reunification, a lot of these buildings were modernised and made look the same again. Only the color scheme between houses was different. Existing murals were often painted over. People then realised, it does look nicer to have coloured walls and they start to let artists paint the ends again.

Here is an example by the East German artist Mad C

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Berlin_Mural_Fest_2019_M...

Here is a video of Team Mad Flava, painting a large mural in Greifswald.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q0vMB5k71c


> People then realised, it does look nicer to have coloured walls and they start to let artists paint the ends again.

I really don't understand how people can enjoy the "us homeowner association" uniformity. It's boring. Let everyone personalize their home.


Here's how it happens.

Step 1. Buy 640 acres of land (square mile) outside a growing and sprawling US metropolitan area.

Step 2. Wait 10-30 years, until the metro has grown to the edge of your land.

Step 3. Make friends with the nearest city council. Make friends with a developer. Talk about tax revenue. Talk about investing in local infrastructure and communities.

Step 4. Get annexed. Take out a large loan. Partner with local utilities to extend services, build roads, donate some land to the city for a park or elementary school. Establish a strong HOA with all the current trends to avoid eyesores dragging down your big investment until you move all the units. Accept deposits for new homes. Local population growth fuels demand.

Step 5. In five to ten years sell >8000 homes at an average cost of $0.5M, bringing in over $4,000M in business. You've made enough friends and connections to roll your cut into the best local opportunities.


The opposite is done in other buildings, such as MIT's Simmons Hall, where the building can look bigger than it actually is because each room has multiple windows: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Simmons_Hall,_MIT,_C...


A similar effect is seen with this office building in Copenhagen. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pier47


Good on the author for acknowledging (twice) that not everyone shares their sense of aesthetics.

Personally I think there's a beautiful chaotic honesty in the monster building. The Vegas hotels look phony, even more so now that I know their trick.


> Good on the author for acknowledging (twice) that not everyone shares their sense of aesthetics.

I disagree. For example:

> unless you like them, I'm not questioning anyone's personal taste

This type of soft-pedaling is too pervasive in people’s writing nowadays. It diminishes the author’s point when they are too afraid to commit to their own opinions because they might offend someone that disagrees. This constant affirmation of “you might disagree, and that’s OK,” is irritating.


It's unnecessary in this article agreed. The author has an obvious preference, just own it already.

Being tolerant is a virtue, but practice this by action, in life.

When writing a polemic, say what you mean! If anything, amp it up a little. Hyperbole and saturation is great when discussing matters of taste.

If you're going to critique architecture, you have the best examples. Just channel some Loos who ridiculed those in favor of ornamentation for being childish uncivilized country idiots. Had great effect, we're still living in its detritus. So just do the opposite here!


I disagree.

Being compassionate and understanding in your writing is a good thing.

I'm glad the author expressed that clearly.


Totally agree. It's a blog post, obviously it's your personal opinion and there's no need to explain nor excuse that.


There is a need if that's how he feels. He's making it clear he understands everyone's aesthetic is different.


The opposite (that it's not OK to disagree) is one of the things that has driven political and social discourse to its current hyperbolic and occasionally dangerous character. It's the source of much of the so-called "culture war".

So to be clear: I disagree, you are wrong... and to follow the mindset underlying your complaint, "fuck you".


I live in Romania. 90% of the buildings sport this brutalist look, not to mention there are rows after rows having the same design. You get bored and depressed very quickly if you live in such environment. I'm always amazed at the diversity of the facades when I visit other european cities.


Hard same, I was wondering if I was crazy! You might also want to look into solarpunk art and urban design, at least to me it feels authentic like the monster building.

When I was buying a house some years ago, and one of the places we were looking at was a subdivision outside town with all the houses being nearly the same. It was nice, and the seller talked about how they had chili cookoffs every year, and my partner really wanted to buy the place. My brain however was really put off, and wanted to get away, right now.

We ultimately bought a place in town, within easy walking distance of the main intersection and all of the businesses there, and right by the park so we could walk our dog. The house is much older, and looks like it's been added to over the years, which might not be to the author's taste but I really like the authenticity.

I guess when choosing between something completely designed from the top down to hide what it is and something that doesn't hide it's nature, I'm more drawn to the latter.


The HK buildings feel dystopian by Western standards because they're incredibly crammed. By local standard, they might actually be pretty good (looks like each unit gets pretty large windows/"indoor balcony" style rooms).


By some western standards at least. I grew up in the west but I love the Hong Kong aesthetic.


Truly, tastes vary. I also think the "chaotic" buildings are much more beautiful than their Vegas counterparts. This is maybe due to my hobby of plein air/urban sketching; if I were to pick a subject to draw on-site, I would immediately be drawn to the Hong Kong buildings. There's not much visual interest to the Vegas buildings.


I want to live in the building, not look at it and as such I want a balcony, a window that opens and an individual A/C unit that can deliver a strong blast next to my bed on summer nights. If it looks ugly from outside, who cares, make it up with a pretty, clean and safe street with shops and restaurants nearby.


What you prefer to live in is not the point of the article. It's about why some large, many unit buildings appear imposing / overwhelming while others less so.


Downtown Pyongyang also looks beautiful, yet I think that prioritizing needs of the residents is beautiful in the most important way. Taipei street markets are messy. That's the best food I ever had.


People who actually live in these environments rather than out-of-town tourists don't share that experience though. They prefer the buildings you call dystopian.


That idea works until you have several such buildings near you and you get to go out on your balcony and see an ugly building everyday.


I’m not sure there’s any solution to this.

Europe has had many uniformly designed high density residence towers, with clean and very worked out exteriors, and it’s a hell to live in.

Balconies are a real QOL improvement, actual windows are as well. I had a friend who snapped after a year of not being able to fully open his windows.

There’s middle grounds, with glass towers that partially hide the balconies and AC units for instance to make it look clean, but you never end with the level of uniformity of the hotels in the article.


Take 10,000 hideous plain beige detached houses. Replace 2000 with 20 big buildings. 2000 with 200 small buildings, 2000 with row houses, 2000 with duplexes and quadplexes and leave 2000 as houses (but remove the hoa).

Now they can all look at a large park, and still only take up half the space.


This is a false dilemma. There's no need to choose between ugly buildings with climate control and attractive buildings with poor climate control. It can be very hot in Las Vegas and the buildings shown in the article have climate control more than capable of making you cold in the summer.


Eh, I'd definitely prefer a mini-split to a window air conditioner. Its nice not having to hear the compressor constantly.


By doing this, they make the casinos seem closer, easier to walk to, and more inviting.


The first time I went to Vegas I decided a casino I wanted to go to wasn’t that far away from where I was. You could see it, it looked “just over there”.

Turns out I walked over a mile in the desert sun. Taxis and that rail after that.


Tricks me every time. Also the hotel name signage is disproportionately huge, which from a distance make it seems like the hotel is close enough for a walk, but turns out it is not.


Given how pedestrian unfriendly the Strip is, it surprises me that you even managed this at all.

On the other hand, I was also surprised how much better public transit seemed in vegas than in most us cities.


That makes sense. Lots of tourists there who travelled by plane and may not know how to drive or be unwilling to rent a car. The casinos would still like these people to drop by though


Also people get drunk a lot in Vegas and casinos encourage it.


Are you calling it unfriendly because it's set up to make jaywalking hard? We got tired of drunk tourists getting creamed because they wandered into traffic. And the crowds are heavy enough that turning across a pedestrian flow is problematic in peak hours. Thus it has been engineered to as much as possible separate pedestrians from cars.


I'm calling it unfriendly because it's a highway cutting through an area fully suited to being entirely pedestrianised. You can't even drive to the front of casinos (they have car park entrances at the back), yet the vast majority of real estate outside them is given up to traffic lanes, with precious little left to the people wandering around them spending.

There isn't even that much traffic on the strip, the road-to-footpath ratio of land allpocation is absurd.

It's unfriendly because you have to walk so damn far to get around lanes that have little business existing in the first place.


I have walked between various casinos at times--and never have I felt I was being made to walk unduly out of my way to do so. The games they play with scale make you think things are closer than they are.

And, yes, parking is generally in back--that's actually being pedestrian friendly! If parking was in front a pedestrian would have to cross a lot more parking lot to reach the casino.

And if you think there isn't much traffic on the strip you've just been there at the wrong time.


Maybe it should be set up for pedestrians first and cars second…


There are whole networks of pedestrian paths connecting buildings. You can walk from A to B just fine without having to step outside and leave the air conditioned zone. The outside temperature in Las Vegas in the summer isn't very suitable for pedestrian use.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Vegas#Climate


Yeah, I'm kinda surprised at the comments. The Strip is way more pedestrian friendly than most cities it's size.


I'm European so I must admit my experience of US cities is relatively limited. I know in general US cities have a terrible reputation for pedestrian-centric planning but even by US standards I found the Strip bad.

The Strip is even bad by Vegas standards: not only is Fremont entirely pedestrianised, Downtown in general is very walkable: pavement width matches foot traffic, amenities are close together, & traffic moves much more slowly than on the Strip / crossing-timing is relatively frequent.

For comparison, I've only really visited SoCal extensively (SD is super walkable, SF is as long as you're fit/not disabled, LA is worst than downtown LV but still nowhere near as bad as the Strip imo). East US I've seen Philly & Chicago which were both even better than CA.


Fremont is 4 blocks, the Strip is the better part of 4 miles. Fremont has no meaningful cross traffic beyond those going there, the Strip is crossed by 3 major streets that most certainly carry cross traffic. (There's also one more that is bridged/tunneled so you do not interact with the Strip--that one would be unaffected.) And if you take out the Strip the properties on the west side are going to scream because it's now hard for customers to reach them.


I don't see your point. You seem to be making excuses for the Strip being the way it is (i.e. "it's bad for these reasons") whereas the gp was arguing it's not that bad actually.

I never said there weren't reasons behind it, just that it is very bad.

> if you take out the Strip the properties on the west side are going to scream because it's now hard for customers to reach them.

I mean if you blindly remove something from any badly designed system without replacing it or providing some alternative then yes, it'll probably get worse. That seems uncontroversial.


Most hotels are not connected to each other. A handful are, but if you want to walk across the strip it’s actually quite hard. I visit Vegas yearly in the summer and this fact makes me somewhat upset :)


You can separate cars away without making short distances into massive hikes for pedestrians.

> Are you calling it unfriendly because it's set up to make jaywalking hard?

You can give priority to pedestrians, slow down the cars and put in obstacles for cars. You can build large roads to go around and up in places where pedestrians are likely to want to go.


In other words, kill the casinos on the west side. They would not survive the loss of customers this would cause. Priority to pedestrians = gridlock. I've sat through multiple light cycles as it is because of pedestrians.


For the US, I find it quite pedestrian friendly. I walked from Luxor to Fremont (essentially spanning everywhere you'll go as a tourist) with no issue. It took a while, but it was a nice and safe walk, with protected sidewalks, overpasses and galeries.


It’s hot. Have you visited in the summer?


Mid June, not exactly summer but still hot. But that's not something you can really do much about, same thing for cities build on hills, or where it rains/snows a lot. For example, cities in Portugal are both hot and hilly, and like many European cities, are nice to walk in.

Yet, in the case of Vegas, you can walk indoors in nice air-conditioned galleries and casinos for good sections of the strip. There are bodies of water and some vegetation, more than there should be considering the climate. Maybe could be better in terms of shade but not terrible either. It is also easy to find refreshment and drinks. Of course the intention of all that is for you to spend and gamble as much as possible, but if that's a problem for you, why are you visiting Vegas in the first place? That's what defines Vegas.


Eh the hardest part is dodging folks handing out flyers or trying to hustle you off-strip to a timeshare hard sell. I kind of like getting some air and sun outside the casinos and stretching my legs.


I had the same experience when I went to Vegas for the first time. I wanted to walk from building to building but they all felt so much further away than they appeared. It never occurred to me it was because of this bit of visual trickery.


Christopher Alexander has a whole lifetime work on this subject.

While “order” and “variety” are something that humans crave, that is something that can naturally come about because of “generative codes”. That the design process unfolds, with participation by inhabitants. Centers are identified, and design take all of that account. You end up with something that has both, universal invariants, while also uniquely in relation to everything around it and the people living within it.


For those interested, this site has links to many of Christopher Alexander’s ideas. The people who put this together are aiming to apply his ideas to software design: https://beautiful.software/


Another Las Vegas Window Trick is to prevent any natural light on the casino floors. The gambler has no sense of time of day without looking at a clock, but that’s not the same as feeling “oh, it’s almost dawn” by looking at the daylight.


I have always heard this, but I suspect it’s less of an intentional trick and more just a happy accident of how large Vegas gambling floors are. Even if the buildings were wrapped in floor to ceiling windows natural light would only penetrate the first couple rows of slots.

The Mirage in particular actually has a pretty large skylight towards the front of the gambling floor.


There's a lot of psychological stuff going on with the casino floors but I'm not sure how you'd design a massive ground floor room in a way that there would be a lot of natural light. And it would actually be user-hostile (and, yes, doubtless business hostile) to spread the casino across a lot of floors.


Internal courtyards is how you add light and air circulation to a large floor plan, typically


I've seen (but not entered) casinos in office towers. I imagine you have the sea of slot machines on the first floor or two, and then table games and high roller rooms on the upper floors.

For a las vegas style ginormous casino and hotel, many of them have the casino footprint much larger than the hotel footprint. You could have big diffused skylights over much of the gaming area, if you wanted. Of course, you'd augement that with lots of artificial lighting, so it would save energy, but not change the experience of roughly constant lighting 24/7


Skylights


I thought about that after I wrote the comment although a lot of the time there's convention center and other expansive spaces above the casino.


Works for the floor that is under the roof.


I worked at a casino (albeit different country) and I was always told this is on purpose. My casino also didn't have windows, and there were no clocks. And the very busy patterns on the carpet are made like that so visitors don't look down and keep staring at their slot machines.


The lack of clocks is deliberate, I think the natural light is simply a case of it not being practical to allow it. Furthermore, the space around the gambling areas is used for various business purposes, both to get gamblers to see the businesses and to get people to walk past the machines to go to the businesses. To put in windows would be to give up prime areas.


Some gaming jurisdictions mandate that slot machines must display the time in a font at least 7mm tall.


The best "dark pattern" trick from Las Vegas casinos may be to start pumping pure oxygen thru A/C around midnight, so guests would get some "high" boost, keeping them gambling harder and tirelessly all night long.

I read about this many years ago in "Fools Die" by Mario Puzo, which of course is fiction, but I think there may be some truth in there (One of the characters in the book is mostly based on the author himself).

Edit. Found an original quote from the book:

  Gronevelt was dressed to go down to the casino floor. He fiddled with the control panel that would flood the casino pits with pure oxygen. But it was still too early in the evening. He would push the button sometime in the early-morning hours when the players were tiring and thinking of going to bed. Then he would revive them as if they were puppets. It was only in the past year that be had the oxygen controls wired directly to his suite.


Casinos do not now nor have they ever pumped oxygen into their buildings. It's nothing more than a myth.


This is true, however may be worth noting that I’m sure they (along with many large commercial buildings non-specific to casinos) control the carbon dioxide levels inside, and increase air exchange with the outside when necessary.

High carbon dioxide levels do have a lethargic effect


Lets not forget that casinos also allow smoking on the gambling floor, so excess air handling and filtration capacity is a necessity.


Any LEED certified building will do that.


> One of the characters in the book is mostly based on the author himself

Fun fact: Puzo had a serious gambling problem. He did most of his research for The Godfather while gambling in a Las Vegas casino (or several?) and interviewing the manager.


Building fires would sure be exciting!


Ah! I don't think they need so much oxygen to be a fire hazard. People would start acting crazy, at least.

I also wonder if they use to do the same - to some extend - in trains and airplanes, I always feel quite relaxed while traveling by them.


Not if you live in a northern climate dawn in the winter is 8am at its worst and sunset can be as early as 4pm.

I worked in a small casino and we had a huge front window that you could see south eastward. But yes I'm sure some some people lose track of time it's human nature.


Lost count of mall visits where glass ceilings bask in morning light, only to leave hours later to a dark sky. The capitalist secret: hiding the day-night transition from customers.


Malls don't have a hotel on top, they can use skylights. In most places casinos have something above the gambling areas--either hotel or meeting rooms (or, in some cases, meeting rooms and then hotel above them.) Unless you have some business with the meeting rooms you're likely to not realize they are there.

There are also some casinos where there are restaurants above the gambling areas.


But they don’t have to be built that way. It’s a choice that shows natural light is not a priority.


Of course not. Being able to fit 3000 rooms above the casino is the priority.


No, the casino floors can be on the top floor. Or the hotel rooms can be built in another tower.


The land our casinos are built on is very expensive, they're not going to separate the hotel from the casino. I would be surprised if you could provide meaningful natural light into our casinos for less than 9 figures.


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