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.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Get a sneak peek at Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like