Las Vegas' newest hotel-casinos are nothing if not rich in architectural details, both custom creations and remnants of the real thing. For Treasure Island, designer Roger P. Thomas, vice president of design of Las Vegas' Atlandia Designs, traveled extensively to collect the shutters, window grills, cannons, cauldrons and large pieces of wrought iron that were reworked for the 18th-Century pirate village. A 13th-Century Indian column of carved limestone, purchased for $2,000 in Morocco, stands in the casino; eight flame-retardant fiberglass copies grace Captain Morgan's Lounge. And Thomas used a little ingenuity, creating bone molds from skeleton models for the aluminum chandeliers.
Designer Charles L. Silverman, president and owner of Yates-Silverman Inc. in Irvine, made three trips to Egypt to research the ambience that permeates Luxor. \o7 Faux-\f7 stone caryatids lining the entrance to the Isis restaurant were based on those at the Temple at Thebes. For Excalibur, Silverman visited Scotland, England, France and Germany to study medieval castles and villages. His full-scale medieval English village features real stained-glass windows, and all signs are painted or carved on wood in gothic letters.
Other hotels draw on no particular history at all, and pure imagination reigns. At the Mirage, which conjures up a romanticized tropical world, designer Henry Conversano, of Henry Conversano & Associates in Oakland, fashioned a porte-cochere chandelier that resembles a huge stylized flower. Other chandeliers boast custom-blown Venetian glass in vibrant colors. Alas, visitors liked the finial globes on the Mirage's bridge so much that by the day after its opening, almost all had disappeared. They've since been replaced.
Creative vision alone, however, can't bring architectural elements to life. Careful execution and attention to details is crucial to the overall effect. "A legion of craftsmen and set designers were siphoned from Hollywood," Thomas says. "They were delighted to create something that won't be destroyed when the film ends."