Last month I had the pleasure and great opportunity to visit Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada. However, gambling and shows were not on my agenda. I was invited by good friend and fellow landscape designer Troy Silva, founder of the Museum of Natural Art
(MoNA), to assist with last-minute details related to his most current project at the newest and hottest hotel on the strip, The Cromwell
. Boasting Vegas’ first rooftop club, Drai’s Beach Club · Nightclub
, this Caesar-owned boutique hotel has created quite a splash in the Vegas community. Aside from the club’s sparkling pools, luxurious cabanas, dizzying array of wraparound video screens and two-story night club, the true crowning jewel is the ten 35-foot-tall Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) which line the rooftop. These massive trees, weighing well over 20,000 lbs each, have a stunning and surreal effect; while simultaneously acting as the architecture of an otherwise wide open roof. These massive trees also make the space feel comfortable and appropriately scaled. Not only do the trees provide visual interest during the day and a sultry evening ambiance created by up-lighting, they also serve a practical use as mechanical support for much of the audio/visual equipment.
The club’s owner and visionary, Victor Drai, often referred to as the Czar of Nightlife, brought Troy and his team on-board early in the design process; a key factor in the success of this project. Sharing an innate appreciation of natural beauty and design, Victor and Troy knew that a landscape component would be the “wow” factor that would make this club unlike any other. Collaboration and compromise with the architect and engineer allowed Troy to negotiate a planting depth of over 7 feet into the design; a detail necessary to support the size trees he envisioned. Additional plantings around the base of each tree, as well as various planters placed across the roof deck were all designed with meticulous attention to plant species, soil type and site context in order to survive the elements: sun, wind, and 4,500 party guests!
While the installation was costly, the end result is a relatively simple yet strong design. It would have been just as easy to spend nearly as much money on small plants, fussy site furnishings and architectural features, attempting but likely failing to achieve the same look.
Back in New England, far from the glitz and glam and heat of Vegas, it’s easy to say we could never put 35-foot-tall palm trees atop a roof. No, perhaps not palm trees. However, it is inspiring and exciting for landscape designers and architects, as this project certainly proves that with a collaborative team, a client with an understanding and appreciation for landscape and an investment in the proper design techniques, a successful project is inevitable!