Award Date

5-1-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Architecture (MArch)

Department

Architecture

First Committee Member

Robert Dorgan

Second Committee Member

Harry Ray

Third Committee Member

Alfredo Fernandez

Fourth Committee Member

Kate Korgan

Number of Pages

120

Abstract

The city of Las Vegas is attempting to revitalize downtown through a creative economy by bringing cultural and experiential activities to the area in a mixed use arrangement with residential, business and civic uses. This study looks at the possibility of not only revitalizing downtown, but on it becoming a true creative milieu - a place that fosters creativity and innovation. It does so by first identifying three major forces working upon the realization of these goals: 1) the regional socio-economic conditions, 2) the government strategies, and 3) the creative population's participation.

The study conducts a quantitative assessments of each, it applies Richard Florida's Creativity Index to the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in order to assess the regional socio-economic conditions, it then identifies the government strategies for downtown revitalization and compares them with the categories from the index, and finally it proposes a survey of the local creative population for further research, in order to infer their strengths and level of involvement in the downtown revitalization efforts (See Figure 4. Study Design Diagram in Chapter 1). While these assessments are a simplification of the complexities of creativity, innovation, economy and culture, this study proposes that these preliminary assessments can be the basis for a further in-depth and qualitative discussion.

Having accomplished two out of three sets of information: the regional socio-economic conditions and the government strategies, the study concludes that while local governing agencies are making strong efforts in downtown revitalization, there are scarce resources at the regional socio-economic level to draw from; the exceptions to this are a large and relatively new and diverse population, and the historic and global importance of downtown Las Vegas. Finding ways to channel the energy from these two strengths may prove beneficial, but other categories such as Human Capital and diversification of industry need improvement at the regional level.

The study also concludes that the government strategies do not have much overlap with the already week socio-economic conditions identified by the Creativity Index, and instead have a lot of focus on the physical development of downtown (See Figure 22. Graphic Representation of Findings in Chapter 5). This may be counterproductive since it may inflate the expectation of downtown Las Vegas beyond those of its true current potential. An alternative could be to shift the focus from physical redevelopment of the area to implementing more long term strategies of socio-economic improvements that can later be guided to concentrate in downtown, such as the skills of the local population and incentives for those skills to concentrate in downtown in the form of new and diverse enterprises.

The city is already doing some of this when it facilitated the move of Zappos into downtown. Expanding upon these strategies is necessary and possible since there is additional city infrastructure that can be used for similar purposes, such as the Old Court House and The Bridger Building. Finally, identifying the character and strength of the local creative-population is an important next step, it can discern local talent that has the potential of becoming successful local businesses.

There are many variables in the formation of a creative milieu and many confounding variables are difficult to quantify; this study is a simplification of these variables. It may not be possible to "design" a creative milieu in a top down approach, but it is possible and desirable to acknowledge the forces acting upon the formation of a creative milieu; this information can give us a better basis for discussion on how to implement the right conditions for the "accident of creativity" to be more likely.

Keywords

Central business districts; Creative class; Downtown; Inner cities; Inner-city; Mixed-use developments; Nevada – Las Vegas; Redevelopment; Revitalization; Urban; Urban renewal

Disciplines

Architecture | Economics | Place and Environment | Sociology | Urban, Community and Regional Planning | Urban Studies and Planning

Language

English