The Southwest Gas building is noble in its understatement.
Las Vegas has two worlds of architecture: global glitz and glamour on one side, and on the other side, a search for identity. You see expressions of that search here and there: The simply stated concrete masonry unit homes along St. Louis Avenue, the old SIIS building on Shadow Lane, the original Life Science building at UNLV and the Springs Preserve. What these projects share is a search for materials that weather the desert environment. One of the city’s best examples of this is the Southwest Gas building. Earthy, understated and even noble, it’s a collage of buildings along Spring Mountain Road that respects the street. Landscape and buildings front the road. Parking is ushered for the most part to the back of the property, out of sight. Buildings cluster around an elegant courtyard, well-done in form and with a simplicity of plant materials. Large overhangs help screen direct sun, but enable filtered light to reach into the core of the buildings. Materials are meant to withstand the extremes of our desert climate, but — again — simple in contrast to the overexuberance of many of today’s structures. Masonry and weathered steel suggest a structure that’s aged well in this environment. Built in 1974, it is a building we expect to survive both the economic wake and the test of time. It is an elegant structure long forgotten in design circles, but one we should re-evaluate as we discuss how Las Vegas should progress. — Eric Strain 5241 West Spring Mountain Road He should know: Architect Eric Strain is principal of Refinery Celbrity Studio. Assemblage Boutique
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let you indulge your inner gearhead by test-driving a gas-guzzler around the block with your kids bouncing around in the backseat … you know, like kids used to. That’s not exhaust you smell; it’s the odor of reinstated masculinity. Or maybe your toddlers need a bath? Whatever. Just don’t forget Lowe’s. — Jarret Keene La Joya Auto Sales, 2520 Fremont St.
Beat reporter It’s hard to imagine how the Las Vegas Sun would fill its front pages without the indefatigable Liz Benston, whose byline sometimes appears as often as five times a week out front with textured, insightful looks not just at how the gaming business works, but also how real people perceive and
interact with it. She seems to spend a lot of time talking to tourists and resort workers as well as to gaming executives, and the stories she comes back with — about everything from problematic pedestrian flows at Aria to the drama over tip-sharing — are as enlightening as they are wellwritten. Also, Benston clearly has a touch of the geek gene, what with her constant attention to developments in mobile gaming and social media. — S.F. (Disclosure: Steve Friess writes a column for the Las Vegas Weekly, which is owned by Greenspun Media, publishers of the Las Vegas Sun.)
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