Reinventing Vegas continues: Architect Leonard Bergman recalls the boom; looks to future

Updated July 24, 2017 - 4:10 pm

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s that time of the year again when Robin takes off for his monthlong family trip to Europe. He’s already visited Athens and Santorini in Greece and has spent the week in the beautiful Cinque Terre area of Liguria, Italy. Now, he’s headed south to explore the delights of Tuscany from a tiny village between Cortona and Montepulciano where Frances Mayes wrote her best-selling book “Under the Tuscan Sun,” which went on to become an all-time favorite movie starring Diane Lane.

In his absence, a great number of showbiz entertainers, celebrity VIPs, chefs, restaurateurs and our Vegas dignitaries have stepped forward to write their guest columns. Today, we welcome Leonard Bergman, the president and CEO of Bergman, Walls & Associates, who keeps close track of the never ending re-invention of Las Vegas.

……

Transport yourself back to 1994. The Mirage and Treasure Island are doing better than anyone could have predicted, so every major casino operator was making plans to open their own integrated resort: the Sands with The Venetian, Circus Circus with Mandalay Bay, Mirage Resorts with Bellagio and Bally’s Entertainment with Paris. Las Vegas was booming and the showmanship we are now known for was in its heyday.

This environment of big dreams and big designs meant that many architectural firms sprung up throughout the valley in the 1990s. Virtually all tied back to Steve Wynn’s Atlandia design team, which conceived of The Mirage and Treasure Island. My father, iconic casino architect Joel Bergman, was the leader of that group and he struck out on his own to form Bergman, Walls & Associates (BWA) with Scott Walls in 1994.

As my father was molding the beginnings of the modern day Las Vegas Strip, I was in Los Angeles with my family, enjoying a successful career designing, fabricating and installing custom cabinetry. In fact, as a congratulatory gift for opening BWA, I built Joel a desk for his new office. That desk is still used in our Henderson offices today.

But in January of 1997, I received a phone call that changed my trajectory. It was my father and he needed help with his latest project, Paris Las Vegas.

Who could resist the opportunity to re-create one of the world’s most beloved cities from the ground up? Who could say no to a half-scale version of the Eiffel Tower? (Truth be told, we wanted it to be a full-sized replica, but the Federal Aviation Administration and McCarran International Airport had other ideas.) So, a week later I’m on my way to Sin City with my brother, George, towing a trailer behind my pickup in a rainstorm through the desert, off to start what has become a 20-year career at Bergman, Walls & Associates.

Working with my father on Paris, the first of many projects we worked on together, I was reminded of a career aptitude test I had taken as a young man. It told me I was meant to be in architecture, which — as kids often do when told to follow in a parent’s footprints — I dismissed at the time. Forty years later, it turns out the test was right and I feel grateful to be not only working in this field, but contributing to the innovations of hospitality design in Las Vegas and beyond.

Las Vegas resort operators are the best in their class. Our firm has had the pleasure to work with so many of them and there is one thing they all had in common — they are consistently looking to improve and reinvent their properties.

After two decades of reinventing alongside them, I think it’s safe to say that reinventing is what we do best in Las Vegas. We learn lessons from the past, but we do not hold it too close. We build on those lessons learned and move forward with new ideas, new endeavors and new adventures. We take risks, we create and we succeed.

Our firm continues to bring to life some of the spaces that make Las Vegas what it is today: From the massive expansion at Caesars Palace, which included Palace, Augustus and Octavius hotel towers, to Trump International; from Siegel’s 1941 at downtown’s El Cortez to the Signature Towers at MGM Grand. In the past year alone, BWA has remodeled almost 6,000 hotel rooms and suites on the Strip. Over the years we’ve created Cirque du Soleil theaters, brought Pure — Las Vegas’ first uber-nightclub — to Caesars Palace and reimagined the same space as Omnia 10 years later. And we’ve designed so many bars, lounges and restaurants that my houseguests never enjoy a night in or a home-cooked meal.

Our town is more than a destination; it’s an entertainment metropolis. With the addition of the Raiders and the Golden Knights, revitalization of downtown and the resumption of construction on projects like Resort World, even more excitement lies ahead.

I believe the future of Las Vegas will ultimately be a great entertainment corridor from the airport to downtown, with mass transit connecting it all. We will be a shining light in the desert far brighter than today and I hope to continue to be a part of it.

I was recently looking out at the Strip from the observation deck at Paris Las Vegas thinking, “What will be next?” I realized it feels like it did when I got that call from my father back in 1997 — Las Vegas is reinventing itself all over again!

……

Don’t miss our other guest columns today from the man who would be Prince, Westgate headliner Jason Tenner, and Sugar Factory American Brasserie owner Carissa Davidoveci. And follow along all this week and next with more guest columns as Robin begins to wind down his Italian travels with a truffle hunt outside of Rome followed by a tour of the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel.

Entertainment Videos
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of theatre talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seafood dishes being made at Pasta Shop near Las Vegas
Executive chef Edwin Martinez incorporates fresh pasta into Lobster Salmon and Saffron Shrimp Sauté at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson, near Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
TOP NEWS
ad-infeed_1x2_1
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Home Front Page Footer Listing