Daily Dose: Paris, Las Vegas

Add to TwitterLas Vegas – where to begin? The endless clubs, casinos, resorts and neon lights along the Vegas Strip represent (to me) so much of what we as a culture should be striving to curtail: over-use, over-consumption and environmental abuse. It all comes to a head in the architectural replicas of famed world monuments like the Eiffel Tower (Paris), the Pyramids (Giza), the Statue of Liberty (New York) and the Piazza San Marco (Venice).

Las Vegas Strip; Image courtesy of thetravelpeach.com

I realize that not everyone can afford to travel across the country or overseas to see these popular world attractions (myself included), and there is tremendous value in making that experience as accessible as possible. However, going to an imitation resort such as Paris, Las Vegas does not provide the consumer with a “next-best-thing” encounter. The scaled-down Eiffel Tower and cliché “boulangeries” and “patisseries” are hardly similar to actually walking the streets of Paris, taking in the local cultures. Rather, these efforts to make everything accessible to everyone devalue authenticity and endorse a culture of cheap imitation. In a cruel sort of irony, this intellectually and creatively cheap mimicry is incredibly costly for the environment and for societal evolution.

Piazza San Marco, Las Vegas; Image courtesy of the Venice Daily Photo Blog

I’m not asserting that one’s experience of Paris has to be the “real thing” or nothing at all, just that time, money and resources could be put to more constructive use. Instead of recreating places that already exist, why don’t we focus on designing new works that push the boundaries of architecture in exciting ways? Sustainability can be a part of that, too. Coming up with ways to ensure that our buildings impact the environment in a positive way and last for hundreds of years is truly worthy of our efforts. It’s something to be passionate about, an excitement to instill in this generation for the benefit of the entire planet and our collective futures. What could be more essential than that?

Let me know what you think – are these “imitation” destination resorts contributing something important to our society? Or should we be more focused on pushing forward, breaking new ground? How does sustainability come into play, in your opinion? Leave a comment!

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*If you liked this post, you might also be interested in Dynamic Exteriors


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