- Area15, an immersive experiential shopping centre in Las Vegas
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.
Project: Benville Studios with Fisher Brothers
Location: Las Vegas, USA
Images: courtesy of Area15
1) AREA15 ph. Laurent Velazquez