Details on our upcoming Mid-Century Modern Las Vegas weekend.




Thank you for being so patient!  We've got the preliminary details (with more to follow) but we figured it was best to get rolling on this so that our readers could start making plans!

The Friends of Classic Las Vegas and the Architectural and Decorative Arts Society present:

Mid-Mod Marvels:  A Celebration of Mid-Century Modern Architecture and Design

The Events:

Living the Mid-Mod Lifestyle Party:

The fun begins on Friday evening, Oct. 22nd with a reception at the famed Morelli House.  The Junior League of Las Vegas has graciously agreed to open their doors for a cocktail party to kick off our weekend of Mid-Century Modern madness.

Alan Hess will be there to say a few words about not only the era of Mid-Century Modern but also provide a bit of history about the Morelli House.

The reception starts at 5:30 pm and goes until 7:30 pm.  Tickets are $25.

Mid-Century Modern History and Las Vegas

We kick-off Saturday afternoon, Oct. 23rd at the National Golf Course's (originally the Stardust Golf Course) Clubhouse with two panels on the era and Las Vegas.


The first one:  Mid-Century Modern Architecture, Design and Las Vegas  begins at 1:00 pm:

Panelists include Alan Hess, architect William Krisel, Chris Nichols and Dr. Robert Tracy talking about the influence of architects such as Welton Beckett, Wayne McAllister and Paul Revere Williams on local architects such as Walter Zick, Harris Sharp, Hugh Taylor and the influence of Mid-Century design on Las Vegas.

The second one:  A Look Back at the Las Vegas News Bureau begins at 3:00 pm:

The Las Vegas News Bureau helped put Las Vegas on the map in the Mid-Century Modern era.  The photographers captured not only the stars of the era but also the buildings and hotels of the era, most of which are gone or altered way beyond their original design.  Panelists will include:  former News Bureau manager, Don Payne.


In the evening of Oct. 23rd, we will present the Las Vegas premiere of the documentary, "William Krisel, Architect" at 6:30 pm.


The documentary, produced by Design OnScreen and directed by Jake Gorst, looks at the life and the influence of William Krisel.  Known mainly for his Mid-Century Modern architecture in California, Mr. Krisel's influence on the residential architecture of Las Vegas can be seen in the Paradise Palms neighborhood.  Working with developer Irwin Molasky, Mr. Krisel designed the homes in that subdivison.

Following the screening, the will be a Q&A session with Alan Hess and William Krisel.

Tickets for Saturday's events are $20.00

Mid-Century Modern Las Vegas Bus Tour:

On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 24th, we will offer a double-decker bus tour highlighting the Mid-Century Modern neighborhoods of Las Vegas.  This will be a different tour route than the one we did last year with new open houses at two Mid-Century modern homes.  Neighborhoods we will glide through include Marycrest, Paradise Palms and the Scotch Eighties.

The tour leaves from the Reed Whipple Cultural Center at noon, include a stop at the Morelli House and will last three hours.  The bus will return to Reed Whipple at the end of the tour.

Please be aware, like last year, seating for the tour is limited.

Tickets are $20.

Now, if you want to save a few dollars, you can buy a three-day pass for $50.  Passes and individual tickets will be available on the ADAS website.  As soon as they have the page up, we will post a link here.

So, start planning your wardrobe and your itinerary, because this is going to be one great weekend you won't want to miss!

Support for this great weekend provided by:

City of Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission

Sponsors for this great weekend are:

The El Cortez

The Junior League of Las Vegas

Metro Arts Council

Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas

Retro Vegas

Terry Wilsey




It's Coming!!! Our second annual Mid Century Modern Las Vegas Weekend!


Our emails hint that many of you very much wanted us to have another Mid-Century Modern Las Vegas weekend filled with panels, architecture, tours and more.

Well, we heard you.  Check back this weekend to find out all the details for our "Mid-Mod Marvels:  A Celebration of Mid-Centuiry Modern Architecture and Design".

A reception at the Morelli House on Friday evening Oct 22nd.

On Saturday, October 23rd, a panel on Mid-Century Modern Architecture and Art, a panel on the history of the Las Vegas News Bureau and the Las Vegas premiere of the documentary on William Krisel, the architect behind Paradise Palms.  William Krisel will be with us in person and will attend the screening.



And best of all, Alan Hess, the authority on all that is MCM,  will be back with us guiding us through all that is Mid-Century Modern and the architects who changed forever the landscape of Las Vegas as well as handle the Q&A at the Krisel film premiere.


And yes, there will be a double-decker bus tour on Sunday afternoon with a new route, new open houses and lots of history.

Sound like fun?

It's all coming the weekend of October 22nd and you don't want to miss this as tickets are limited!

So check back here this weekend for the deets! 

A Conversation with Alan Hess

As readers here know, Alan Hess is the go-to guy for Mid-Century Modern architecture and the automobile culture that surrounded it.  He was one of the guests at our Salute to Walter Zick last fall.  In addition to being the go-to guy, he is an author of a variety of work on the various aspects of the era.  From "Googie" his look at the coffee shop and diners to "Palm Springs Weekend" celebrating the joys of that Mid-Mod mecca to "The Ranch House".  But for Las Vegas Mid-Mod fans, we all love "Viva Las Vegas: After Hours Architecture".  If you haven't read this book yet, get thee to the library or better yet, his website.

I talked with Alan a few days ago about Mid-Mod and Las Vegas:

      What is mid-century modern architecture and why is it important?

After World War II, America found itself on the threshold of a promising future. After the Great Depression, people finally had money and jobs. New technologies offered amazing possibilities: television, automatic transmissions, washing machines in your home – all brought a new, easier way of life. Mid-century Modern architecture mirrored those changes. It created new shapes and used new materials (such as steel, glass, plastic, and concrete) to give people a sense that they were living in a new era.

       What is roadside architecture?  Why was neon so important to Fremont Street and the Strip?

The automobile made the twentieth century unique. Cities grew in size because of it. People suddenly had great personal mobility. And the American city took on a new shape in response to these changes. A key element of these changes was a new kind of architecture suited to the car. Drive-in markets, drive-in movies, drive-in restaurants, drive-in banks, gas stations, car washes, and many other types of buildings along the roadside served the way people were living now that they had cars. A big part of this architecture was signage, and neon (a new technology in the 1920s) proved ideal in creating large, vivid signs that could be seen from blocks away. Beginning in the 1930s, Fremont St. became one of the most innovators for neon signs, and neon urbanism, in the nation. This exploration continued on the Strip in the 1950s.

      Which classic Las Vegas neon sign do you miss the most?  Favorite classic Las Vegas casino/hotel?

The pinnacle of Las Vegas neon was reached in the 1960s. Those signs are mostly gone now, but they remain one of the highpoints of American art. The Dunes, the Aladdin, the Stardust, the Frontier, the Riviera, the Sahara were all great. The Stardust was one of my favorites, with a scintillating cloud of light, as if falling from the heavens. The Aladdin was a true and original phantasmagoria, evoking veils, jewels, and a Thousand and One Nights. I have the fondest memories of the Dunes because of the shear power of its animation, shooting light into the night sky like a rocket, but completely silently.

 You did a lot of research for your book, "Viva Las Vegas: After-Hours Architecture." What was some of the information that surprised you?  Will there be an updated version of the book?

Most of the information in the book was a surprise to me. I had questions about who had designed these hotels and signs since reading Learning From Las Vegas by Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour in 1975. Who had designed these buildings? Which came first? How did they evolve, and influence each other? Where did they come from? The most illuminating fact was that most of the original architects, who set the standards and models, were from Los Angeles, and had honed their startlingly new conception of auto Modernism while designing the drive-ins and Googie coffee shops there. I would like to do an update of Viva Las Vegas, which was published in 1993, but have no current plans.

 What was it about Las Vegas that brought so many well-known architects like Welton Becket, Paul R. Williams, Wayne McAllister and many others to Las Vegas to design buildings and hotels?

As Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour said, Los Angeles was the Rome, and Las Vegas was the Florence of this type of Modern architecture. There were strong economic and personal links between the two cities that made it natural for those LA architects to work in Las Vegas.

 What can we learn from the mid-century modern and roadside architecture of classic Las Vegas?

The innovations of this Modern architecture are still refreshing. Especially in a new city like Las Vegas, the traditions of the past held no power. The architectural problems could be solved directly and imaginatively, and the budgets and recreational purposes of the architecture allowed experimentation. These days, the pendulum reacting against car-oriented architecture has swung too far. It needs to swing back a ways, and the purposefulness and creativity of these buildings help show the strengths in this kind of architecture.

  What do you think of CityCenter and the modern Las Vegas Strip?  Will City Center be the direction of the future for Las Vegas?

Las Vegas and the Strip continue to press the boundaries. That freedom allowed it to create the great architecture of the past. Back then as now, it also produces a lot of junk. City Center is an interesting piece of design, but it is largely disconnected from the course and concepts of Las Vegas architecture and urbanism. Its architects and developers have neither understood nor appreciated that history. More interesting innovations are going on in the creation of interesting public spaces along the Strip. Las Vegas signage was once the best in the world. It’s lost that position to places like Times Square, but there are occasional glimpses of Las Vegas regaining its footing and creating new electrographic architecture as great as its old architecture.