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Crystals, Citycenter, Las Vegas, USA

Issue 53 February / March 2010


Part of the CityCenter hotel complex owned by MGM in Las Vegas, Crystals retail centre is Focus Lighting’s latest ‘super project’. mondo*arc takes a look inside

Architect Studio Daniel Libeskind and Interior Architect Rockwell Group created the captivating shell and interior design for the Crystals. Focus Lighting, long time collaborators with Rockwell, were then brought on board to contribute a lighting design that is visually complex and technically advanced.

“The goal was to create an Interior Urban Park that reflected the energy and diversity of a cityscape,” comments Paul Gregory, Principal of Focus Lighting. “We wanted to bring the beauty of nature inside, using the spiral ceiling to reflect the sky. We programmed the ceiling to change over the course of the day, from amber with the sunrise, to cool blue in the afternoons, transitioning to a reflection of an urban landscape in the evening.”

In order to achieve these colours, Focus worked closely with Philips Color Kinetics to develop a custom version of the Colorblast with White/White/Amber LEDs in addition to the standard RGB to allow them to more closely replicate colours found in nature.

Over three years, hundreds of drawings, three models, and countless full-scale mock-ups were put forth to realise the multifaceted lighting scheme now seen at Crystals at CityCenter.

Gregory explains: “It took three years of close collaboration and coordination to fully integrate the lighting into the architecture and special features. We built three scale models, completed hundreds of drawings and sketches, and performed multiple full-scale mock-ups in New York, Las Vegas, Connecticut and Washington, DC to fully test the lighting treatments.

“There was a large team and we had countless coordination sessions to locate ceiling slots, wall slots, and all the interior features to understand and negotiate everyone’s needs to create a successful outcome. We collaborated closely with architects Studio Daniel Libeskind, Rockwell Group, DIRT Studio and WET Design to create a visually complex and technically advanced lighting design which was the key to creating a coherent experience and integrating the Rockwell features into the Libeskind building.”

Intricate light slashes are cast across the interior walls in angular motions that are representative of the architecture. These slashes are emitted from the ceiling slots by theatrical metal halide fixtures (ETC Source 4’s) with carefully adjusted metal shutters in each source. Metal halide spotlights (LSI) are also housed in the ceiling slots and are used to spotlight various elements of Rockwell’s interior concourse. The walls and ceiling ledges also house almost 1000 LED fixtures that uplight the ceiling and vary in colour tone to reflect shifts in daylight.
Members of the Focus team went to Washington DC to test the ceiling uplights at the Museum of the American Indian, in their atrium, to compare CK beamspreads, throw distances and brightness. They also went to the National Sculpture Garden to light another edition of the Claes Oldenberg Eraser that is on display there in order to get the fixture positions correct with the angles of the sculpture.

Designing the slots to conceal these many ceiling fixtures proved one of the greatest challenges at CityCenter. Focus Lighting helped to create the seamless integration by working closely with the whole design team. The geometry of the ceiling slots, skylights and control joints inform the shapes of the light slashes adding additional texture to the walls.

“There was a large team and we had countless coordination sessions to locate ceiling slots, wall slots, and all the interior features to understand and negotiate everyone’s needs to create a successful outcome,” relates Gregory. “Because of the contractor’s involvement in the coordination sessions, they were able to contact us directly with questions or site conditions, so we could come to a mutually beneficial solution to any problem. All the collaboration and coordination paid off, every lighting detail was built correctly!”

Other lit features in the space include the backlit Grand Staircase and the terrace dining of Mastro’s Ocean Club, located in Crystals’ dramatic treehouse. The pink agate stair riser is backlit with white LEDs, providing energy efficiency and minimal maintenance. The soaring spiral ceiling of the atrium is uplit with color shifting LED fixtures located on skylight ledges and semi-recessed in the walls to provide a kinetic, shifting environment evoking the rhythm of the urban fabric.
“The challenge was to create human moments within the vast cathedral volume of the building,” comments Gregory.

The special features, the interior events, create a progression that guide your experience through the space and provide intimate moments within the atrium.

The elaborate Treehouse’s resin bands are backlit with LED strip-lights which are incorporated into the structure and require minimal maintenance. Accents located within the actual structure, as well as accents from the main ceiling, highlight the unique Treehouse from above and within.

From across Las Vegas Boulevard, the retail centre easily stands out as a glowing precious gem. The Crystals façade and roof are made of a unique brushed and ribbed metal that reflect light in waves as you move past the building. Accents mounted in the hardscape that surrounds the building uplight the façade in two layers of light; the base and the height.

Sculptures by Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne, Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen, and Henry Moore are all lit by Focus Lighting, as well as the walkways, bridges, traffic circles, and podiums throughout CityCenter. LED handrails and carefully positioned We-ef metal halide accents illuminate these unique pieces of fine art, enhancing this exciting hardscape.

The lighting for the roadside marquee and sign on top of the ARIA casino building were also designed by Focus Lighting. The marquee sign was inspired by cubist artist Braque. Subtle shifts on the panel’s surface are reinforced by bands of light. The large ARIA sign is lit entirely with LEDs. Blue LEDs backlight the acrylic letter forms and white LEDs line the perimeter, creating a rock-star sparkle around its edges.

Project Details
Crystals, CityCenter, Las Vegas, USA
Lighting Design: Focus Lighting - Paul Gregory, Juan Pablo Lira, Stephanie Daigle, Hilary Manners, Michael Cummings, Laurent Fachard and Joseph Frey
Architect: Studio Daniel Libeskind
Interior Architect: Rockwell Group
Architect of Record: Adamson Associates
Photography: Juan Pablo Lira unless stated

Lighting Specified
• ETC Source 4 (ceiling slots)
• LSI track (ceiling slots)
• Philips Color Kinetics Color Blast RGB, custom wwA (ceiling uplights)
• We-ef (exterior hardscape)
• BK Lighting ArtiStar, SeltaStar (special features)
• HP2 custom (landscape)
• Martin (WET lighting ice sculpture in Rockwell concourse)
• Edison Price (downlights)
• Lightolier (restroom downlights)
• Bartco (linear fluorescents)


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