I spent the better part of my round trip out to Las Vegas thinking about one thing: how in the hell would I start this piece? Forty thousand feet, cruising altitude, you watch the land change; you look out to the horizon at that infinite layer and you notice the mass is not straight, it bends. I reflect on myself and realize we are not flat; we are limitless. I asked my father one time how a plane worked? He responded, "Like a bird, but not quite as well."
I can't get my mind off Daniel Libeskind's achievement on Las Vegas Boulevard, Crystals.
Unfamiliar forms and shapes take on spaces of occupation and function. Often the space can be portrayed as decadent or alienating, but this is an insulting oversimplification of new limitless ideas that a building and architecture can provide. Daniel Libeskind embodies this notion of different, new and limitless functionality. Probably most recognizable for his work on World Trade Center One in New York, Libeskind's Crystals is a world all its own.
Inside there isn't a moment where one is not faced with multiple layers and levels of space weaving crookedly in and out. Often time’s paths meet at intersections that span off into three, six, EIGHT different directions. Up, down, left, right. The brilliance of Lebiskind's turbulence is that he has done all of the work for you.
The structure at all times provides a full three hundred and sixty degree view without the structure ever obscuring itself. Standing on one end allows you to see dead across to the other. The ceiling and walls, steel and glasswork commingle and at places play with that beautiful yellow desert light; becoming sculptural and intertwined. For all its modernism, Crystals becomes an organism.
This idea of space and light moving beyond convention is accented by the permanent installation of James Turrell. These two artists' works come together, providing and beckoning to patrons to not just come to buy Louis Vuitton or Dolce and Gabanna but to stop and see, to look and reflect on this intimate structure and contemporary space. In fact, my only wish is that the space invited beyond niche clientele.
I'm not here to throw stones at multibillion-dollar retailers. The public deserves and needs approachable access to spaces like Libeskind's. There is no reason why buildings can't be aesthetic and pleasurable to be inside while still functioning for a diverse body of reasons. Crystals is the most incredible building I have ever been inside.
Efrem Zelony-Mindell is an artist who lives in New York. For more of his work click here ...
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