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SPECULATIVE URBANIZATIONS: VIV(E) LAS VEGAS

LEYRE ASENSIO VILLORIA + DAVID SYN CHEE MAH
Students: Bogeng Chen, Molly Chiang, Savina Kalkandzhieva, TaewoTo Kang, Juhyun Kim, Tien Ling, Elizabeth
Munson, Namsuk Oh, Manasy Pandey, Hillary Pinnington, Jeremy Siegel, Koren Sin, Tea Von Geldern, Siyuang
Zhang, Milena Zindovic
01 Leyre + David Mah/ Viv(e) Las Vegas/ M.Arch Studio ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4/ Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 02
“America is a very poor lens through which to view Las Vegas,
while Las Vegas is a wonderful lens through which to view America.”
- Dave Hickory, from A Home in the Neon
If by 2030, 50% of America’s built environment will come to be defined by
constructions built no earlier than the year 2000, it would be reasonable to assume that,
due to the speed and scale of this anticipated construction, a significant portion of this
urbanization will unfold through the deployment of standard building types.
America’s growing metropolitan regions are becoming defined more and more by the
cheap, fast and easy. While the profession and discipline’s preoccupation with the
specific and singular have been the prevailing concern of general architectural research,
in the Viv(e) Las Vegas option studio at Cornell University, we chose to pursue an
explicit and focused research into the typical models of architectural and urban
development found within the rapidly expanding metropolises in America’s Southwest.
Since the Second World War, the Sunbelt cities in the south of the United States of
America have experienced the fastest economic and population growth in the country.
This region that stretches across 15 states, presents a very particular condition where
sustained growth has transformed much of its urban and metropolitan landscapes,
demographics and economies. Cities such as Las Vegas in Nevada and Phoenix in
Arizona have transformed from desert towns to large cities with sizable metropolitan
extensions and diverse constituencies and populations. Taking a cue from the art and
cultural critic: Dave Hickey, if Vegas is in fact, the perfect lens to measure general
American culture, the studio wagered that perhaps it could also operate as an
appropriate lens to measure and view America’s dominant modes of urbanization in
general.
CHEAP, FAST N’ EASY
“America is a very poor lens through which to view Las Vegas, while Las Vegas is a wonderful lens through which to view
America.”
1
Since the Second World War, the Sunbelt cities in the south of the United States of
America have experienced the fastest economic and population growth in the country. Tis
region that stretches across 15 states, presents a very particular condition where sustained
growth has transformed much of its urban and metropolitan landscapes, demographics and
economies. Cities such as Las Vegas in Nevada and Phoenix in Arizona have transformed from
desert towns to large cities with sizable metropolitan extensions and diverse constituencies
and populations. Taking a cue from the art and cultural critic: Dave Hickey, if Vegas is in
fact, the perfect lens to measure general American culture, the studio wagered that perhaps
it could also operate as an appropriate lens to measure and view America’s dominant modes
of urbanization in general.
1 AHome in the Neon by Dave Hickey in Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy (California, Art Press Issues, 1997)
If by 2030, 50% of America’s built environment will come to be defined by
constructions built no earlier than the year 2000
2
, it would be reasonable to assume
that, due to the speed and scale of this anticipated construction, a significant portion
of this urbanization will unfold through the deployment of standard building types.
America’s growing metropolitan regions are becoming defined more and more by the
cheap, fast and easy. While the profession and discipline’s preoccupation with the specific
and singular have been the prevailing concern of general architectural research, in the
Viv(e) Las Vegas option studio at Cornell University, we chose to pursue an explicit and
focused research into the typical models of architectural and urban development found
within the rapidly expanding metropolises in America’s Southwest. Te studio was
conscious in its attempt to circumvent the discipline’s obsession with the exceptional
and the authentic, which for us has consequently sponsored an unbalanced focus on the
aspects of our built environment that, are quiet literally: exceptions.
2 Ricky Burdett & Deyan Sudjic, The Endless City (London, Phaidon Press, 2007)
SPECULATIVE URBANIZATIONS: VIV(E) LAS VEGAS
STUDIO PROFESSORS: LEYRE ASENSIO VILLORIA + DAVID SYN CHEE MAH
Students: Bogeng Chen, Molly Chiang, Savina Kalkandzhieva, Taewoo Kang, Juhyun Kim, Tien Ling, Elizabeth Munson, Namsuk
Oh, Manasy Pandey, Hillary Pinnington, Jeremy Siegel, Koren Sin, Tea Von Geldern, Siyuang Zhang, Milena Zindovic
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 01 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 02
Given that a majority of America’s (sub)urbanism will be composed by the
nondescript and prosaic, we could also presuppose that much of the population’s
social (as well as private) lives will be facilitated within generic architectural
and urban types. Te studio approached the study of contemporary sprawling
metropolitan growth, particularly within America’s Sunbelt region, by focusing on
the typical developer led projects that have come to define the major constituents
of this model of urbanization. Consequently, as a studio we became interested in
urbanization’s replicable systems and prototypes and we chose to revisit the older
preoccupations and ambitions for identifying or redefining the building blocks of
the contemporary metropolis. Tis ambition was developed further by fostering
an inter-disciplinary relationship between architectural strategies and modalities
of landscape, infrastructural and urban planning. By measuring existing and
proposed developments against the conceptions of organization and different
economies of efficiency we hoped to understand, engage and operate on sprawling
metropolitan growth within its own terms and to redirect the modalities of its
current deployment towards various other qualitative effects.
For our research on the models of contemporary urbanization in the
Sunbelt we opted to produce different understandings of replicable, consumable
and pliable metropolitan matter. If so much of what constitutes contemporary
urbanization will be new, fast and easy, a considered engagement and reconsideration
of these “banal” environments could perhaps deliver both a poetic and operational
substrate to a large majority of our contemporary built environments. Rather than
adopting a critical or oppositional stance, by reconsidering and post-producing
1

the commonplace and banal, our built environment may be imbued with value
and implication that remains unclaimed and unseen and just might produce the
qualitative differences to construct new constituencies of other social and political
“lifestyles”.
LIFESTYLED
In parallel to our study of contemporary metropolitan growth in Las
Vegas, the studio chose to consciously investigate the relationship between these
architectural and territorial infrastructures and the engineering of what has been
identified as the “lifestyle market”. To some degree, the emerging phenomena
of commercialized lifestyle communities and markets could be symptomatic of a
description of our contemporary social and political milieu articulated by Anthony
Giddens’ notion of life-politics.
2
Certainly the identification of different niches
that have allowed planned residential communities to emerge marketed to anything
from retiree to fire arms enthusiast demographics indexes a general subscription
towards a form of collective association based on lifestyle choices.
1 Niciolas Bourriaud, Postproduction, Culture As Screenplay, HowArt Reprograms The World, (Berlin, NewYork, Lukas
& Sternberg, 2002)
2 For Giddens, our late modern social and political landscapes have allowed us to bypass emancipatory politics in our self
and collective identifcation.
For him, self identity and actualization has for many become a matter of life choices rather than life chances and thus are defned by
life-politics or
lifestyles.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 03 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 04
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 05 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 06
However, this idea of a sub-politics composed of
non-partisan, individual life choices has been challenged by
agonist critics such as Chantall Mouffe for its overoptimistic
depiction of a society no longer structured by social and class
divisions.
1
It could be argued that what may be presented
as a society emancipated enough to able to deliberate on life
politics in fact has, in the case of Las Vegas’ metropolitan
area, manifested itself through a landscape that still
actualizes persistent class and social divisions. In Vegas,
the metropolitan landscape could easily be described by De
Cauter and Dehaene’s illustration of the twenty first century
city as “a dualization, between on one hand the archipelago
of secured, well connected capsules and on the other hand
the “ubiquitous periphery”
2
. Te illusion presented in Las
Vegas’ real estate boom of a more democratic and generally
accessible notion of individual property and a good life has
in fact proven to be far less inclusive in the aftermath of the
credit crunch. In the studio, we endeavored to rethink Las
Vegas’ current metropolitan extension in light of this crisis
and to speculate on the capacity for a re-structuring of
Vegas’ generic urbanization to produce other life-worlds.
METROPOLITAN LESSONS FROM LAS VEGAS

Te growing significance of developments such
as shopping malls, “lifestyle” centers and master-planned
communities as well as tourist resorts in both facilitating
and expressing contemporary social life has prompted
Peter Sloterdijk to describe them as the “pluralized spatial
creations of the modern and postmodern”.
3
Often contrary
to traditional conceptions of public space, these spaces result
from the city’s new development patterns and protocols as
well as a social and political condition that Sloterdijk has
described as connected isolations.

In Las Vegas, the proliferation of islands, mass
containers and “hyper-architectures”
4
are prevalent trends
for accommodating these different “lifestyles”. “Temed,
spectacular and illusionist, hyper-architecture is the
product of the architect as experience engineer within the
experience economy.” Just like Coney Island’s relationship
to Manhattan as an incubator of Metropolitan prototypes,
described in Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas, much
of the strategies and technologies of Las Vegas’ themed
1 Chantal Mouffe, The Democratic Paradox, (London, NewYork, Verso, 2005)
2 Lieven De Cauter & Michiel Dehaene, Mediations On Razor Wire: APlea For
Para-Architecture in Visionary Power: Producing The Contemporary
City, (Rotterdam, NAI Publishers, 2007)
3 Bettina Funcke, Against Gravity Interview with Peter Sloterdijk, Bookforum, (Feb/
Mar 2005)
4 Lieven De Cauter & Michiel Dehaene, Mediations On Razor Wire: APlea For
Para-Architecture in Visionary Power: Producing The Contemporary
City, (Rotterdam, NAI Publishers, 2007)
and scripted lifestyle residential developments have had a
previous life incubating along the strip. Tese models of
developments that are subsequently exported to the rest of
the world highlight the hybridization of the banal and typical
with “technologies of the fantastic”, culminating in numerous
incarnations of metropolitan “hyper-architectures”.

Such developments are largely ignored as territories
for investigation by the discipline, having been relegated
to the realm of the mundane and purely commercial. If
according to Koolhaas, the zero degree architecture of the
typical plan (which exemplifies the generic) has provided us
with the multiple platforms of 20th Century democracy
5
;
it would seem likely that in the coming decades, given
the current nature of development in our contemporary
metropolises, the social life of America’s citizens may very
well remain facilitated and represented by similarly generic
everyday envelopes.

After a period of research and evaluation that included
a field trip to Las Vegas, the studio identified major themes and
areas of investigation that framed their proposed interventions
within Las Vegas’ metropolitan area. Tese themes address the
different scales at which architectural and urban mechanisms
structure the built metropolitan environment and “lifestyles”
of Las Vegas’ population. Tese themes were: 1) subdivision,
2) Las Vegas’ versions of “communities” and neighborhoods”,
3) infrastructure, 4) the house as commodity and 5) the
blank shed as social container. Trough an informed
understanding of these issues, the proposals operated on
Las Vegas’ current modalities of urbanization as a means to
systematically speculate on and rile new effects, new qualities,
new environments, new atmospheres, new microclimates,
new ecologies, new constituencies and ultimately new models
for the metropolis.











5 Rem Koolhaas, Typical Plan in R. Koolhaas, and B. Mau, 1995, S,M,L,XL, Monacelli
Press, NewYork
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 07 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 08

1 - SUB-DIVISION

“Te internal nature of the sprawl unit is both rudimentary and crude, and in need of evolution.
Te orientation of the house is totally dependent on the platting, with no regard for the compass, the
landscape, or prevailing ecology. Inefficient and wasteful, sprawl’s true power and success lie in its
economic and social effectiveness. Consequently it will take a lot of Jeffersonian (agrarian) persua-
sion to transform this Hamiltonian (mercantilist) success story. Put differently, sprawl is much like
the Jeffersonian grid -Hamilton doing Jefferson -and the next evolutionary stage may be to tamper
with this bias”
1

Te subdivision: a model of urbanization that prioritizes and multiplies the individualization of pri-
vate property facilitates the ecological model of urbanism described by Reyner Banham’s Los Angeles:
the accumulation and intertwining of individual properties and interests together with infrastruc-
ture and landscape into specific “suburban” ecologies and environments. Te consensus of sprawl
urbanization is based on the dominant collective concern for the (real estate) values of individual
property.

1 Lars Lerup, Stim and Dross: Rethinking The Metropolis in After The City (Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press, 2000, pp 54)
Las Vegas’ rapid growth and expansion into the desert has proceeded in an extensive, sprawling
fashion framed by the general armature of the PLSS grid. Various types of subdivisions are free
to colonize each 1 mile X 1 mile module of the grid, sometimes occupying portions of the mod-
ule or sometimes consolidating numerous modules for large scale developments.

As an infrastructure that currently (sub)-divides the territory into smaller manageable parcels,
the studio proceeded by utilizing the pervasive PLSS grid as a means to frame their proposals
and interventions. Te current exploitation of the grid as a mechanism of division was also re-
considered by the studio, whereby the grids capacity to operate as a connective armature guided
many of the studio’s proposals.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 09 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 10
2 – “COMMUNITIES” & “NEIGHBOURHOODS”

A significant distinction in Las Vegas’ urbanization can be seen in the differences between life-
style “master planned” communities and generic neighborhoods. Disparities in the distribution
in quantity and quality of amenities as well as density are determined by different notions of value
and efficiency that correspond to these differing models of development. Te prioritization of
maximizing the number of subdivisions in neighborhoods contrasts with the emphasis on “value
adding” amenities and manicured spaces in master planned communities that operate as the props
for constructing atmospheres for marketable “lifestyles”. Within Las Vegas’ subdivisions, one can
discern a switch in the economy of efficiencies applied to neighborhoods and communities, where
in neighborhoods, maintaining efficient and optimal density is primary while in the communities,
value creation through landscape features as well as a carefully engineered retreat from the surround-
ing urban field is a priority for generating “value”.

As it is practiced, the politics of lifestyle communities is predicated on a decision and agreement to
subscribe to a mode of living that is shared by a particular demographic and is enforced and man-
aged by homeowner’s associations. Tis tendency allows for the balkanization of Las Vegas’ citizens
into consumer clusters of self same age groups and income brackets, with the perceived benefits of
insured property values and security. In Las Vegas, much of conscious social practice is determined
by affordability.

But what are the other measures of value that could frame the assembling of new communities and
neighborhoods? Other collective concerns could begin to inflect the assembly of these develop-
ments. If we are to address the inefficiencies and wastefulness of platting patterns that neglect “the
compass, landscape or prevailing ecology” it is precisely the problems associated with the environ-
ment, landscape and ecology as well as a reconsideration of what constitute desirable “lifestyles” that
could become actual matters of concern which redirect our community and neighborhood values.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 11 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 12
3 - INFRASTRUCTURE
Often in Las Vegas and sprawl urbanization, infrastructure produces certain redundan-
cies or alternatively it produces significant shortfalls. In these contexts, it is rare that infrastruc-
ture (often seen as the assurance of efficiency) operates without producing additional flow on ef-
fects that are either problematic or are opportunities. We propose to investigate these additional
effects of infrastructure as opportunities to rethink their range of performance and capacity for
restructuring urbanization.

Infrastructural conditions, ranging from the inefficiency and waste associated with as-
pects of highway constructions, the excessive scale of car parking requirements to the redun-
dant yet inadequate water management and flood control infrastructure in Las Vegas were used
as generators and opportunities for their alternative deployment towards other ambitions and
economies of efficiency.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 13 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 14
4 – THE HOUSE AS COMMODITY
Las Vegas’ living environments are populated by generic habitats of tract houses and
“cookie cutter” homes. Fuelled by a real estate bubble over the last decade, Las Vegas’ resi-
dential spheres in the wider metropolitan region has for the most part, come to be shaped by
speculation and the proliferation of standardized “products’.

Depending on the model of subdivision (community or neighborhood), Las Vegas’
homes can be characterized by a genera of single family homes of slightly varying densities
and types. Te relative standardization of house types and a loose fit within generous subdivi-
sions facilitates interchangeability and repetition. Te tract house system allows for a mix and
match of lifestyle and consumer choices on a subdivided territory.

Te pairing of subdivisions and tract houses: an expedient mode of community and
neighborhood production: facilitates the model of development based on the mass production
of low density, single family houses. Tract houses are commodities, carefully engineered to ca-
ter to demographic target groups that have, at least till recently, made “ownership” affordable
to a wider market. Las Vegas’ tract homes have operated as a self perpetuating infrastructure
of value that appreciated in proportion to the growing demand and population attracted by
the city’s (relatively) reasonably priced real estate and engineered life styles. With the recent
real estate crisis, the instability in the way in which these houses may be valued has been pain-
fully foregrounded with Las Vegas suffering some of the worst foreclosure rates in the country.
Considering this crisis of value, the studio chose to speculate that the commodity worth of a
house may not be the only concern that could drive its judgment.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 15 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 16

5 – THE BLANK SHED AS SOCIAL CONTAINER

Las Vegas’ retail and social spaces outside of the strip and downtown are primarily
accommodated within two building or development types: namely strip malls and big box
stores. Both are the epitome of the loose fit, generic blank type. Te flexibility of these
types is tied to redundancy and neutrality. It is a general supposition that the more neutral
and redundant these buildings become, the more likely to flexibly absorb any number of
programming and tenancy changes.

Ironically, despite or perhaps because of their blankness and redundancy, (big mute
buildings framed by large on grade car parking areas), these developments exhibit a monu-
mental and singular character when read against the “entropy” of the surrounding sea of
subdivisions. In Las Vegas, these development types are called upon to facilitate and often
represent different social, ethnic and racial groups. In Las Vegas: Chinatown is a generic
strip mall, where the representational elements of the architecture are clipped or added on
to the generic strip mall organization for an instant cultural identity. For these blank types,
identity is interchangeable with clip on accessories to represent both branding and cultural
identity for amongst others: from Arbies to Starbucks to Chinese, Korean or Latino “towns”.

In the credit crunch, just as foreclosures have left a significant number of houses and neigh-
borhoods vacant, many big boxes have also failed economically and lost their tenants. Tese
developments even more so when vacant and unoccupied, pose a considerable blight on the
general metropolitan landscape and furthermore, leave many already underserviced neigh-
borhoods even more isolated.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 17 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 18
VIV(E) LAS VEGAS PROPOSALS
1, 8, 9 – Hilary Pinnington & Koren Sin
2 – Molly Chiang, Tien Line & Tea Von Geldern
3 – Manasi Pandey & Milena Zindovic
4 – Bogeng Chen & Siyuang Zhang
5 – Savina Kalkandzhieva
6 – Jeremy Siegel
7, 10 – Juhyun Kim
11– Taewoo Kang, Elizabeth Munson & Namsuk Oh.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 19 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 20
PROPOSAL: DE/RE DENSIFYING LAS VEGAS
Students: Juhyun Kim & Jeremy Siegel
PROPOSAL: DE/RE DENSIFYING LAS VEGAS
Students: Juhyun Kim & Jeremy Siegel
In Las Vegas, achieving density can be a politically significant strategy as it is one of the main
measures against which the feasibility for implementation of public services, infrastructure
and amenities is evaluated. It is also argued that higher density within the context of Las
Vegas is a more sustainable form of urban development due to the inefficiency and waste
that an extensive sprawling distribution of infrastructure and amenities would entail. Over
the last couple of decades, Las Vegas has been growing at exponential rates and there are still
projections for more considerable growth. Given the current densities associated with its
metropolitan developments, Las Vegas will run out of space for its expansion, where the city
is framed and limited by Federal land and mountain ranges. Given these circumstances, it
would appear that Las Vegas, sooner or later, will need to start reconsidering density.

Juhyun and Jeremy proposed the definition of new regulatory measures within the PLSS
grid that define a mix of densities within Las Vegas’ wider metropolitan area. In Las Vegas
two dominant models of development have tended to be practiced, the first, a concentrated
and consolidated model of linearly concentrated density exemplified by the strip, the other,
a low sprawl of tract housing subdivisions. In fact these two models of development can be
seen as the difference between the generic suburban sprawl and an ambition for a dense and
congested downtown area spearheaded by both public and private developments that include
MGM Grand’s City Center (a large development that promises a “Manhattan” lifestyle on
Vegas’ strip designed and delivered by Foster, Pelli, KPF, Jahn, Vinoly, Liebeskind, Gensler
etc) to the Union Park development: a public private partnership.

Working with the projection of a continuing population growth, Juhyun and Jeremy pro-
pose a restructuring of these models of development where these exacerbated differences are
made to define strips/corridors of highly serviced zones (serviced by virtue of its density and
congestion as well as the corresponding public facilities and amenities that are subsequently
granted as a result of achieving such high densities); a linear “Manhattan” framing major
roads, while suburban (and almost rural) low density developments may be located in a di-
rectly contiguous manner. Tis organization of urban/suburban/rural densities is projected
to allow for the accommodation of these various models of development and different con-
stituencies of “lifestyles” in close contiguous relationships.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 21 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 22
PROPOSAL: CENTER PIVOT CITIES & CITY DENSIFIERS
Students: Jeremy Siegel / Savina Kalkandzhieva
Suburbia is in many ways, structured by the desire for a perceived closeness to the
natural or the rural. It’s attractiveness for many are in fact the perception of a close relation-
ship to an expansive landscape despite the complete artificiality of its actualizations. Both,
Jeremy and Savina’s projects attempt to reconcile this perception of expanse and the natural
with the pressing needs for a more sustainable density of development.
Jeremy and Savina chose to develop a series of urban guidelines and planning prac-
tices that would put into new relationships: landscape, architecture and infrastructure to
produce in Savina’s case: a coexistence and framing of the desert and in Jeremy’s case, a
constant relationship between houses and a perception of an expansive landscape. Both
students engendered new guidelines and codes with the capacity to remix existing building
types and infrastructure in ways that it may generate differential densities. Las Vegas’ cur-
rent sprawling carpet of matter will be redirected into zones of high developmental density,
allowing for the allocation of large areas to be reclaimed by landscape (either agricultural or
desert).


Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 23 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 24
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 25 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 26
PROPOSAL: ZIG ZAG HOUSES
Student: Juhyun Kim
Following on from an impulse towards densification, Juhyun develops a new housing
type that re-structures existing suburban residential subdivisions into high density, high
rise developments that retain and incorporate qualities of existing suburban lifestyles
into its organization.

Direct car access, individual garages, visual privacy and front/back gardens are accepted
as features and qualitative necessities in the re-mixing of the organizational logics of
suburban tract home subdivisions into vertical building typologies. A resulting sec-
tional zig zag figure emerges out of this negotiation between different view and privacy
parameters together with larger scale concerns for connectivity, structural stability and
fabric differentiation.

Incorporating organizational and sequence logics from existing tract home models,
Juhyun translates what were widely understood by the market as “bonus” rooms (gyms,
home theater rooms) and added features or optional extras (such as swimming pools)
into consolidated “communal” amenities. Swimming pools, Jacuzzis and tennis courts
become collective programs within publicized backyards. A new model of “community”
(the Las Vegas variety) emerges where a new city fabric and public realm grows in the
neighborhood’s backyards. In the tradition of urban reformation projects that offer pro-
cedures for restructuring existing urban fabrics into alternative urban models, the project
offers a protocol of the (sub)urban reformation of typical; suburban subdivisions into
new variations of high density developments.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 27 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 28
Te scale of car parking structures and infrastructures are considerable and of-
ten monumental in Las Vegas. Given this general construction culture that is well
acquainted with the problems of assembling large parking buildings, Tien, Tea and
Molly developed a new hybrid building type that conflates a literal interpretation of the
infamous Life Magazine skyscraper diagram with multi storey parking structures. Te
team proposed an infrastructure for “parking” suburban homes, multiplying the ground
on which these standard products may be distributed.

Te mediation between various technical determinations such as turning circles,
natural lighting and ventilation as well as lot efficiency were used as the pretexts for gen-
erating more and more types of hybrid structures, assembling a new model of interweav-
ing high rise neighborhood/communities. As a result of this new density, motivated by
the pressing need to increase density within Vegas’ growing suburban field, Tien, Tea
PROPOSAL: PARK VEGAS
Students: Molly Chiang, Tien Ling & Tea Von Geldern
and Molly’s proposal in fact projects a highly collective form of living environ-
ment that conflates a high concentration of mixed uses, amenities, public grounds
together with a perversely efficient infrastructure for the proliferation of housing
lots. While departing from a mock capitulation to Las Vegas’ suburban and car
worshipping culture, the project incongruously produces a model of a community
that could be described as urban, collective and even pedestrian friendly. Inciden-
tally, the project’s plausibility and marketability during the course of reviews had
been endorsed by a Las Vegas real estate agent, prompting optimism within the
studio in the possibility for pairing “visionary” urban/architectural ambitions with
Las Vegas’ real estate values.

Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 29 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 30
PROPOSAL: DUNES AND MOUNTAINS
Students: Bogeng Chen & Siyuan Zhang / Manasi Pandey & Milena Zindovic
Bogeng/Siyuan and Manasi/Milena both attempt to
reconfigure the procedures for producing subdivisions within
the PLSS grid in order to adapt to the influences of specif-
ic environmental and ecological factors. Te harnessing of
prevailing winds, shading, and solar exposure provoked the
reorganization and rethinking of the modalities for defining
new mixed use developments at both the architectural and
urban scales as well as deliberately producing engineered mi-
croclimates that allow for temporal reconfigurations to the
patterns of occupation in Las Vegas’ desert landscapes. Ad-
aptations of existing building types imported from the Strip,
together with new protocols for generating subdivisions al-
lowed for the restructuring of residential developments to ac-
commodate and further extend existing ecological zones and
habitats, generating new assemblages of humans and non-
humans
1


1 Bruno Latour & Peter Weibel, Making Things Public, Atmospheres of Democracy,
(Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press, 2005)
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 31 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 32
PROPOSAL: HYDROMORPHING LAS VEGAS
Students: Taewoo Kang, Elizabeth Muson & Namsuk Oh
Despite being located in a desert, Las Vegas does on occasion suffer flash flooding. It is also in dan-
ger of losing its capacity to sustain adequate water supply for its urbanization. Tis is currently mitigated by
a water management and flood control infrastructural network that is simultaneously redundant and ineffi-
cient. Te hydrological infrastructure in its existing configuration is largely determined by a linear efficiency
that addresses problems of flood management and water distribution through a brute consolidation of large
infrastructural elements, insensitively inserted within the territory. Elizabeth, Namsuk and Taewoo propose
to re-structure Vegas’ hydrological infrastructure into a distributed network throughout the metropolitan
territory that minimizes the inefficiency and waste that is currently a result of long cycles of distribution and
the consequent water supply losses due to exposure and evaporation.

As a result, alternative developmental models of communities and neighborhoods are developed
that adapt to a morphology driven by this reconfigured hydro-infrastructure. Water is collected and
distributed as a localized and distributed network, while also producing new artificial environments
for residential as well as commercial development. Archipelagoes of unique and discrete islands are a
potential result of this new infrastructural logic. Te hydro-infrastructure in itself due to the immediate
technical need for constant shade (to prevent evaporation) constructs a network of novel public land-
scapes that acts to connect rather than separate each island while engineering new microclimatic “oases”
within the metropolitan field.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 33 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 34
PROPOSAL: BIG-BOX HOUSING
Students: Hillary Pinnington & Koren Sin
Hillary and Koren project a new residential community within Vegas’ aban-
doned big box developments. To recycle these big boxes, they generate an interior
urbanism imported from the strip (examples such as the New York, New York, Paris
and the Venetian casinos simulate city fabrics within its interior spaces) that remixes
the market expectations of typical Vegas communities into new forms for collective
living.

Front yards, backyards and mechanisms for maintaining privacy are reor-
ganized to create an interior landscape with gradated degrees of public and private
realms, all sealed and framed within a climatically controlled envelope. Tis pro-
jected community exploits its interiority at both conceptual and pragmatic levels,
with an intentional community that, because its retreat to an interior, are able to
re-imagine a much more collective form of living.

Te weather sealed community is cheap and fast precluding the expectations
that these would need to be financed and operate as high end exclusive enclaves.
Without needing to perform relative to exterior climatic factors, construction could
be of lower specifications and the already prevalent strategy for populating the large
exposed roofs of these building types with solar panels would curb energy and long
term operational costs. Consequently, the assembly of cheap and easy communities
proposes an optimistic vision of living and thinking within the box, re-inhabiting the
fortuitous monuments of suburbia.
CREDITS AND DATA
Project Title: Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas
Contributors: Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah
Editor: Yoonjee Koh
Special thanks to:
For their help in Las Vegas: Arthur Gensler and J.F.Finn of Gensler and Associates,
Robert Dorgan and Glenn Nowak of UNLV, Geoff Rhodes of Lake Las Vegas, Margo
Wheeler of Te Las Vegas Planning and Development Department, Dave Hickey
For their participation in reviews: Lonn Combs, Alastair Gill, Veronika Schmid, Ann
Forsyth, David Saloman, Mike Silver.
Professors Leyre Asensio Villoria + David Syn Chee Mah / Speculative Urbanizations: Viv(e) Las Vegas 35 ASSOCIATION VOLUME 4 / Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 36