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The holiday season is here! And while many of us cannot travel this year, SEGD has decided to bring travel-themed stories to members, just in time for the holidays. This story by contributor Franck Mercurio spotlights a new landmark on the Vegas Strip—the fabulous Las Vegas Gateway Arches—designed by SEGD members Robin Perkins and Andrew Davey of Selbert Perkins Design. Enjoy!
“Pack your bags, baby, we’re going to Vegas!”
Las Vegas. The name conjures images of neon lights, flashing signs and over-the-top architecture—all competing for the attention of tourists, gamblers, and partygoers who flock to this desert city hoping to get lucky (in one way or another!)
This iconic—if brassy—image began to take shape in the 1950s when Las Vegas took off as a popular traveler’s destination. These were the days of the Rat Pack and “Classic Vegas” and mid-century modern design that defined early Las Vegas. It was also the time when the landmark “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign (1959) was erected on the city’s outskirts.
“Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” appears to mark the boundaries of the City of Las Vegas itself, but in reality, the city line is located four miles north at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. How, then, to let visitors know when they’ve actually arrived in Las Vegas proper?
City officials decided to commission a new and dynamic “gateway” to welcome people downtown and entice more development in the area. The city hired Selbert Perkins Design (SPD) to envision the gateway. SPD had previous experience in revitalizing Las Vegas’ Fremont East neighborhood in 2008 with a new entryway and series of neon-clad sculptures.
“Las Vegas has always been a ‘landmark-in-signage’ dream for us, since Fremont East,” said Andrew Davey, Partner at SPD. “So, what an opportunity!”
“We had done Fremont Street [in Las Vegas] about 10 years ago, and that really transformed the entire area of Fremont East,” explained Robin Perkins, Co-Founding Partner at SPD. “That project created a lot of economic development. The amazing sculptures and gateway really branded the street.”
The area surrounding the proposed location of the new gateway project—the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue at the north end of The Strip—presented a different set of challenges, mainly in terms of the existing infrastructure and utilities, so the city moved the gateway location a few blocks north to The Strat Casino, Hotel and Skypod.
At nearly 1200 feet tall, The Strat’s Skypod bills itself as “the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River,” and it serves as a monumental landmark in Las Vegas. It is here, at the base of the tower, that two intersecting arches now span Las Vegas Boulevard. Designed by SPD, these double archways now welcome people to the City of Las Vegas as they drive north along The Strip.
With a nod to traditional Vegas, the Gateway Arches, fabricated by YESCO, an SEGD longtime member, are covered in more than 13,000 lights, all entirely programmable and illuminated every evening, beginning at dusk. But there’s also an elegance to their forms reminiscent of 1950s modernist design.
“We started with one arch diagonally crossing the street,” explained Perkins. “And then we added another arch which created a very three dimensional and dynamic entrance into the historic downtown. That last design was the one the City chose.”
“We were looking for classic forms that can withstand time, and the arches are a timeless design,” added Davey.
Complementing SPD’s gateway design is the “Welcome to Las Vegas” logo suspended from the intersection of the arches. This official city logo was recently created by Victoria Hart, graphic designer and owner of Pink Kitty Creative in Las Vegas.
“It’s a nod to the glamour of yesteryear Vegas,” said Hart when speaking about the design of the logo. “The locals really like it; the community has been very receptive.”
The end result of this civically minded collaboration: A great new space-defining landmark in Las Vegas—and one that’s fun, too!
“I think this is exactly what our world needs right now: something fun,” said Davey. “It’s Las Vegas saying: ‘We’re open again; can’t wait to see you!’”
FUN FACTS ABOUT THE GATEWAY ARCHES:
- Number of lights on the arches: 13,016
- The 13,016 RGB LED pucks are individually programmable
- Programmable audio, too!
- Each arch leg spans 140 feet across Las Vegas Boulevard
- Illuminated every day, beginning at dusk