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Renowned casino architect saved some of best work for Resorts World

Las Vegas architect Paul Steelman has designed buildings on nearly every continent in the world, but he saved some of his best work for Resorts World Las Vegas.

Steelman has a worldwide reputation for his architecture, particularly in the casino environment, working with Steve Wynn on The Mirage in the late 1980s and now, just up the block, at the $4.3 billion, 3,500-room property, which will become the first Strip resort to open in more than a decade on Thursday.

Steelman is always quick to share credit for inspirations created by his clients, and it was no different for Resorts World.

“K.T. (Lim, chairman of Resorts World owner Genting Berhad) was very interested in replicating the success that Genting had achieved in Malaysia and Singapore,” Steelman said. “This formula has many nongaming attractions, multiple hotels, superior live entertainment, cutting-edge virtual reality and augmented reality attractions, food and beverage for every taste and budget, a superior Asian high-limit gaming offering with Chinese sensibility and room to expand and diversify in the future.”

Steelman met Lim years ago, making several trips to Genting’s flagship resort in Malaysia, Genting Highlands, a mountaintop collection of hotels and tourist attractions.

“I have been always very impressed with Genting Highlands,” Steelman said. “It’s an amazing facility with massive rooms with almost every entertainment attraction ever built.”

It was Lim’s younger brother, Chee Wah Lim, who first recognized the potential for a Genting resort in Las Vegas, Steelman said, first at the former Frontier site, then at the former Stardust site when it became available from Boyd Gaming Corp.

Boyd had started on its $4.8 billion megaresort on the Stardust site in 2007, but a year later, Boyd fell into financial trouble with the onset of the Great Recession.

Chee Wah and K.T. Lim are owners of Genting Resort Secret Garden, a ski resort in China that will be one of the Olympic venues for the 2022 Winter Games. It was decided within the family that Chee Wah would oversee the ski resort and K.T. the Las Vegas property.

“K.T. is a very respectful dynamic businessman who solicited opinions from some of our great politicians at the time Gov. (Brian) Sandoval and Senate Majority Leader (Harry) Reid and his friend Steve Wynn. All knew the power of the Resorts World brand and welcomed him and Genting to Las Vegas,” Steelman said. “Both Reid and Sandoval attended the unveiling of the concept in our office in March 2013. I had many meetings with K.T. and his operations group in America and Asia. We were very fortunate to be chosen to design this project.”

‘You can see it from everywhere!’

The Resorts World Las Vegas project turned out to be the largest project Steelman has designed to date. At just under 7 million square feet, it’s the second-largest first-phase project built in Las Vegas behind CityCenter.

What does he think will dazzle guests the most? It turns out Steelman has a long list.

“We love the District creating so many Strip-front opportunities for food and beverage,” Steelman said. “We love the digital ball designed by our Jon Champelli in the District. We love the Crockfords lobby and suites, especially the villas on the pool level.”

The 50-foot-diameter video globe, which will display more than 6,000 square feet of LED content in the center of the District retail area, will become a must-see for Vegas visitors, predicted Steelman, who also praised the rooftop pool.

Steelman’s team also designed the east-facing digital sign — “You can see it from everywhere!” — and the Boring Co. tunnel that will be the first underground commercial connection to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Steelman expects guests will be surprised by many aspects of the resort.

“In Las Vegas, we have not had a new Strip resort for 12 years, so everything will look new, making everything else on the Strip look old,” he said. “It is very large but very simple to navigate around the property.”

For more coverage of Resorts World visit lvrj.com/resortsworld.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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