Outstripping the Strip: Five Architectural Designs Admired by Eric Strain, AIA

WHEN THE TOPIC TURNS TO architecture and design in Las Vegas, the first thing people think of are the iconic Strip images. But take it from Eric Strain: there is plenty of aesthetic structural excellence beyond the Boulevard. Eric is principal designer for the award-winning assemblageSTUDIO — and his work is inspired by the climate, landscape, colors, and culture of the Valley. Here he shares his top picks for good design in Las Vegas.

Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

“How many structures in Las Vegas can lay claim to being voted both the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ building in town. This alone makes the Ruvo Center one of the most important. It’s a building that, like it or not, you know what it is and where it is. How much more impact could a work of true architecture have?”

Henry Moore Sculpture Park, City Center

“This is not about architecture or even the design of the space; it’s about architecture actually getting out of the way and letting a space happen. It’s great combination of elements in one place with no purpose other than to allow people to relax and enjoy a moment. Even the landscaping is kept to a minimum, which does not happen enough in Las Vegas.”

Ethel M. Botanical Cactus Gardens

“We look for places that allow us to celebrate them. Nowhere is more ‘place specific’ than the demonstration garden at Ethel M. Yes, the Christmastime light shows are spectacular—but don’t miss the experience on a summer afternoon when you can appreciate a single bloom of a cactus or dimpled shadow patterns of palo verde and mesquite cactus. These gardens exquisitely showcase the beauty of our desert environment.”

Southwest Gas Corporation

“In this city we struggle to find a design voice that does not seem borrowed from somewhere else. This structure’s simplicity and climate-specific materials are a fine example of our own voice. The buildings have aged with a dignified patina. The Corten [weathered] steel and concrete masonry units are materials that should be used more in Las Vegas for their character-building potential over time.”

Hoover Dam

“The Hoover Dam is and will always be one of the most important structures in this region. Its design was not a ‘theme’ but a statement of the period during which it was built—1931-1935, the so-called Federal period. The building of Hoover Dam represents a shining moment in Nevada history. It is designed with imagery that marks an epoch.”

Previously published in diamondcake. Updated by smallTALK. Archived for Eric Strain, AIA.