As One Era Closes, Another Begins – Saying Goodbye to Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

With an updated construction schedule, and official announcements of closure dates, the reality of goodbye is upon us. If you have been by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas lately, you will have likely noticed that the removal of the iconic Hard Rock guitar has already taken place, and that is just the beginning. The year 2020 is anticipating an 8-month long renovation period as the transformation of the resort into a Virgin Hotels property takes place.

Before we bid a final farewell, we thought we would take a moment to reminisce on some of the design elements that WORTHGROUP incorporated into this venue before its grand opening in 1995. We hope you enjoy our recap of what was originally referred to as cutting edge design, including the circular casino floor plan, which is now seen throughout many casinos today.

When this property opened in 1995, it was indeed the very first Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, co-owned by Peter Morton.  Morton, a businessman from the United states, was the co-founder of the ubiquitous Hard Rock Café restaurant chain, with each Café integrating the iconic guitar sign into their design.

The original design work for this property was a collaborative approach between WORTHGROUP and Franklin Israel Design. This collaboration was likely the very first time that a Las Vegas property involved what was known at the time as a “starchitect” working with a casino architect. Franklin, a highly respected architect, was known for placing his personal modern style throughout works in the Los Angeles area.

This initial Hard Rock Hotel & Casino property was first and foremost, a boutique hotel and entertainment experience, offering a unique off-strip experience from that of the mega-resorts that dominated Las Vegas. A key feature was a large-scale center bar, known as “The Cathedral”, when the property first opened. Located on a raised elevation for maximum visibility at the core of the casino, its dramatic design featured alternating lighting and color schemes creating a variety of environments.  The bar’s name and its content of semi-religious artifacts incorporated into the design proved to be controversial, but The Cathedral Bar itself became a prime destination for visitors to Vegas as the place to see and be seen.

The building’s iconic façade was intended to recall Mediterranean architecture, and was complemented by an elaborate pool experience, that has since become the norm in Las Vegas. Another extremely successful differentiator for the original property was The Joint.  A performance venue of choice for elite musicians, The Joint has been widely imitated combining edgy artists and ambiance for everyone to enjoy.

Essential to the Hard Rock brand, authentic Rock ‘N’ Roll memorabilia display areas and feature elements were infused throughout the interior design and have been continually utilized throughout the entire lifespan of the property.

While WORTHGROUP did complete the original design, it is important to give a nod to the other firms involved in the evolving design of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. May you all experience the sweet nostalgia of what once was, while harboring much excitement for what is next.  Join us in saying goodbye to one of our most satisfying projects nearly 25 years ago, as we welcome a Virgin Hotels property to Las Vegas.

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