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Las Vegas lessons

Twenty-five years ago, two architects chose Las Vegas to highlight the divorce between contemporary architecture and popular culture. Deyan Sudjic explains how Dutch-born Rem Koolhaas is now following in their footsteps

By Deyan Sudjic   February 1996

The newly opened Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas has a rusty fragment of the aircraft in which Otis Redding came to grief, impaled over the slot machines like a relic of the true cross. By Las Vegas standards the building itself is a model of restraint. Even more unassuming is the puce-coloured pavilion on Tropicana Avenue. It arrived on the back of a flat bed truck; it sports no more than a dozen flags and has only a perfunctory neon sign to attract attention. Set beside the hulking green monster across the street, the MGM Grand-with its trademark lion…

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