URBAN BORDER ZONES > REAPPROPRIATING “LAS VEGAS”
Civic space has long been the site of political coexistence among different individuals and, in facilitating productive confrontation, has provided the ground for social change and progress. However, given the changing relationships of human interactions with space and with one another, largely brought about by the rapid urbanization of cities and the filtering of new technologies into to all aspects of everyday life, most traditional forms of civic space are no longer relevant. Yet while “public” life is now accessible from nearly anyplace through digital technologies, civic space still depends upon physical expression in the city. As such architecture continues to play a vital role in establishing civic space in urban environments through the exploration of new forms and strategies.
Most challenging to the creation of urban civic space has been the spread of enclaves and privatized public space throughout cities, which has created urban “border” conditions. As a result of the proliferation of these highly controlled spaces with clearly established boundaries, active public space has become more scarce. Las Vegas is an extreme case of this condition; not only is the city physically fragmented in its suburban sprawl, but also the domination of its city image creates a deeply dividing border condition between many of the urban spaces and users.
However, moments of intersection do occur at the “access zones” of enclaved spaces, the moments at which private entities are forced to interface with immediate conditions and physical contexts. These moments are opportunities for place-making, a temporal and tectonic grounding of diverse local and extended networks of relationships.
I speculate that is through architectural manipulation and spatialization of the enclave border and its moments of access that a new shared territory can emerge in the city. At a site in Las Vegas in the zone in which the Strip and the city meet, I will reconsider urban civic space by redesigning the relationship between private and public institutions in order to create a charged urban zone of interaction. By reconfiguring the relationship of the market-driven (the casino) with the institutional (a dance center), privatized space might be leveraged to empower and connect new hybrid civic spaces for the city of Las Vegas.