What Happens in Vegas...

... helps us develop a food hub!

Traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada was an extremely exciting experience. I had never been to a desert environment and the dry, arid climate was new to me. It's incredible different to read and watch videos about conditions of a certain environment then it is to actually experience them with my own senses.

The first thing I noticed was the weather. I have been in dry climates before but nothing was as alarming as Las Vegas. The second I stepped foot out of the airport I could feel the hot air. However, this hot air was dry and had a much different effect on me than the humid heat I'm used to in Iowa. When it's hot in the mid west it’s hot everywhere. You're constantly being swaddled in a wet blanket of heat and it never goes away until you step foot into some quality air conditioning. The dry, desert heat of Las Vegas was definitely intense but it mellowed out if you stood in the shade for a few minutes and the temperature dropped incredible when the sun went down. These little differences in the weather don't seem that significant but they are enormously important to my design process. After experiencing the weather and feeling the little differences in climate, I understood the importance of shade and the slim likelihood of an affordable water feature. The tiniest things leave the biggest impact on a design.

I especially felt the heat when walking to our site location. The temperature was around 103 degrees Fahrenheit when my group and I took the 15-minute hike to our site. The sun was beating down on us and it felt like a 3-hour trek through the Sarah Desert with no water or shoes. That might be a slight exaggeration, but the heat took its toll. After rest in the shade for a few minutes we were able to wander around the site and photograph experience the space we had been looking at online for weeks in person with our own eyes. I was initially struck by how desolate it appeared and how abandoned it felt. As we wandered around more, however, we saw about 15 homeless people dispersed around the site and trash and everywhere. This site had transformed from a bus hub to a hub for homeless people and it was interesting to see how it had evolved. Walking though the site gave me a new perspective on the dimensions and a better idea of what elements of our design will actually fit in the area and succeed as they are intended. The heat was blustering and homeless people surrounded us but overall it was a great, useful experience.

 

Wandering around downtown Las Vegas, I also noticed the significance of scent. Each casino has it's own particular smell wafting out of it in hopes of enticing customers. It’s impossible to escape these smells, regardless if you like them or if you ever intend on gambling. I'm used to noticing bad smells in the city or good smells walking past a bakery or an open field, however I was new to experiencing highly processed smelled intended for a certain manufactured purpose. These smells are strong and intentional and even if it didn’t draw me in, it definitely left an impression. For example, the vanilla soaked cigarette infused cloud of hopelessness I smelled every time I walked through the lobby of the El Cortez will haunt me forever. And even though I choose to identify the smell of our hotel with harsh words and a negative association, one of my classmates might have loved for it and long for a time when they can smell it again. That's the interesting part of the experiencing a place with all of your senses, everyone reacts differently.

My Las Vegas cultural experience was a little different from my classmates because I was the only student who wasn't 21. This didn't seem like it would be a huge issue, but in a city centered on drinking, gambling, and entertainment it became a problem. Despite not being able to tour every casino and bar because I wasn't of age, occasionally I was denied access to a restaurant because of my age. I had assumed that most places in downtown Las Vegas would at least allow me to eat dinner but that wasn't the case at all. I was still able to site see and wander around the streets watching entertainers and talking to street vendors and it was an incredibly fun. Overall this experience showed me that there are not many places in downtown Las Vegas focused towards a younger audience or family friendly at all and definitely impacted my design focus. 

Wandering around Las Vegas, going to a cirque du soleil show, watching all the street vendors and entertainers, and immersing myself in the entire culture was an amazing experience. It was fascinating to see all of our analysis in person and fully experience a new culture completely different from everything I know. I ate at amazing restaurants, spoke to incredible people, and witnessed new lifestyles. All of these exciting things we saw and places we went changed my perspective of the city and shaped my overall design intent.