Area15, an immersive experiential shopping centre in Las Vegas

Benneville Studios,

Las Vegas,

Shopping Centers,

Michael Beneville of Beneville Studios designed the new Area15 entertainment complex in Las Vegas: a place that has been described as an immersive experiential next-generation shopping centre, where you can surround yourself with art in one of the most artificial places in the United States.

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Area15, an immersive experiential shopping centre in Las Vegas
Coming up with a new attraction is no easy task in a place like Las Vegas. To compete with the many attractions of a city whose economy is based entirely on entertainment, you need to come up with something truly new and different, something interesting enough to get people out of their hotels and casinos. So why not offer immersive experiences of the kind increasingly in vogue in the world of art? This is exactly what Michael Beneville has done as founding partner and creative director of the Area15 project, only minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip. His interdisciplinary company, Beneville Studios, worked with New York real estate developer Fisher Brothers on a new complex measuring more than 23 thousand square metres for hosting events, exhibitions, art, food and retail outlets.
The name is a reference to the well-known Area 51, the secret US air force base in Groom Lake, the dried-out bed of a lake in the Nevada desert only 135 km north of Las Vegas: a name that pops up in countless conspiracy theories, especially those concerning aliens. The name gives Beneville’s project an intriguingly air of mystery.
The look of the Area15 complex picks up on this mysterious narrative, as a hermetic black monolith concealing within it a vast range of immersive experiences. The centre opened its doors in September to host Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart project (link), the opening of which was delayed due to the pandemic.
But Area15 is not just an indoor experience arranged along The Spine, the corridor of artistic installations, shops and restaurants forming its backbone, but also offers visitors a park full of sculptures from Burning Man, the festival held annually in Black Rock Desert. The sculpture park offers an opportunity to artists who don’t know what to do with their monumental sculptures once the big event is over. (For more information on the Burning Man festival, listen to the podcast with John Marx, who designed the Museum with No Spectators for Burning Man 2020). 
Michael Beneville, who has participated in Burning Man for decades, decided to exhibit the sculptures in front of Area15 to give everyone an opportunity to view them in the real world and even buy them. After all, Area 51 is an immersive experiential shopping centre, and buying and selling form an essential part of the concept. 
This unusual building contains four spaces of different sizes and styles for hosting events and, as appropriate to this new addition to the “experience economy", many of the attractions at Area15 are ideal places to take photographs for posting on Instagram: another way of generating interest and attracting more visitors, including families with children, who don’t have a lot to do in Las Vegas! 
In conclusion, AREA15 is an immersive playground condensed into a single space, combining an approach to consumption of art with the very concept of consumption: in short, a little parallel universe, a place that stands out even in flashy Las Vegas. 

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Benville Studios with Fisher Brothers
Location: Las Vegas, USA
Year: 2020
Images: courtesy of Area15
1) AREA15 ph. Laurent Velazquez
2) Art Island, ph. Peter Ruprecht
3) Oddwood, ph. Anthony Mair
4) AREA15 ph. Laurent Velazquez
5) AREA15 Portal, ph. Proto Images
6) SPINE, ph. Peter Ruprecht
7) Vortex, Laurent Velazquez
8) Wild Muse, ph. Laurent Velazquez


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