When new buildings are REALLY out of context

In traipsing around to a bunch of different community meetings, I constantly hear the complaint that something is out of context, doesn’t fit the existing neighborhood context, or is out of scale. These phrases seem to mean almost anything, and are usually synonymous with “I don’t want that.”

Occasionally these are … well, humorous, because what else can you call someone saying that the best neighbour for an existing 30 storey building is a flat grassy field and that any sort of high rise or even townhouses would be “out of context”?

Of course I have my own context foibles. I am not a fan of mega buildings and long groups of linked buildings that stymie street life (hello Place du Portage, Place de la Chaudiere, Place de Ville).

Here are some buildings that are out of scale with their neighbours. BTW, this is not to say that the new buildings shouldn’t have been built … maybe the correct measure is to remove the buildings suited to the 1959 city and clearly fallen on hard times since they are unsuitable for today.

Yes, it’s back to Vegas, and provided you let your eye pass by the faux Tour Eiffel, note the Cosmopolitan complex in the back right.

Those two Cosmo towers are big. And tall. As in massive. They are condos, or maybe condotels. And they had a high occupancy factor compared to a number of other properties on the strip, if one is to gauge by the number of rooms lit up at night.

Speaking of lit up, the building exterior becomes are sort of light art at night:

While the north face had horizontal light bars, the east face had pinpoint lights:


But, back to the matter of scale and context. Immediately to the north (right) of the Cosmo complex was the Bellagio, which is also a very large building with a very large lake and fountains done in the way only Vegas can. And no doubt the back left side of the lake, where there is currently a low rise parking garage, may someday become another Bellagio tower, to maximize their use of the lake and cut off the view from the neighbours.

But in the meantime, look at the old building squeezed into the narrow space between the Bellagio and Cosmo; it’s the Jockey Club. A mere 10 or so stories high. Now look closely at the base of the Cosmopolitan and notice that the blank concrete walls of the parking garage and convention floors are higher than the Jockey. Just what exactly is the view for those horse punters?

Of course the tourist view of urban planning is dangerous, since we don’t know the plans for the area, or the time line, or the competitive pressures at work. The same way as we react to our city today, and with limited foresight to what it may/will become if current trends continue.

I do hope this example of a new building and it’s context with the old is an extreme example that stays in that city of extremes, Las Vegas.

Next: more outsize architecture.

Amusing note: my spell checker suggested I replace Bellagio with Fellatio. Hmm, I think not.




2 thoughts on “When new buildings are REALLY out of context

  1. I love the picture of the Jockey Club.
    I had a look at their website site. The slogan is “snuggled between Belagio and City Center”

  2. Eric – Why you are using examples from Las Vegas, the world’s most unsustainable (at every level) urban monstrosity, is really beyond me! That place has nothing to teach anyone, anywhere about anything IMHO.

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