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UNLV Libraries -> Architecture Studies Library -> Las Vegas Guides and Collections ->
AIA Nevada Design & Service Awards Archive -> 2009 awards -> Border Grill


Entry number: IE09002
Project Name: Border Grill
Building Type: Restaurant
Completion Date: August 2008
Building Location: Las Vegas, NV
Type of Construction:
Type 1A
Materials Used: Rammed earth, wood, black steel, stained concrete, drywall, acrylic
Building Area: 3,600 sf

Design Team:
Architect: assemblageSTUDIO
Electrical Engineer: JBA Consulting Engineers
General Contractor: MIG Nevada
Structural Engineer: Mendenhall Smith Structural Engineers
Photographer: Henri Sagalow Photography
Mechanical Engineer: Petty Engineering Las Vegas, LLC

Statement of Design Approach:
The design seeks to make connections between the handmade crafts of Mexico and the building traditions of our desert region.

The project is located inside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The original design was constucted over 10 years ago and was almost entirely all drywall. Keeping with the restaurant's graphic expression the design incorporates materials to express and connect to the cultural patterning and man-made artistic values. Rammed earth, wood and blackened steel form the connection to natural materials. The graphics are enlivened through a vibrant color pattern. The entire existing facade was removed to allow the new design to be extremely open. This created a visual connection to the patio and natural daylight beyond. The dining area has become more intimate through a lowering of the ceiling with the suspended wood beams. The overall restaurant has been opened to the hotel. Privacy in the dining area is maintained through the wood beam wall. The rammed earth walls become a signature element to draw patrons into the restaurant.

Sustainable Description:
Taking heed of the needs of the client, an authentic Mexican restaurant which has shifted towards an organic, locally produced menu, the design seeks to make connections between the craft of Mexican cooking and the building traditions of our region's ancestral people. In doing so, the design brings the experience of the desert to the visitors of its surrounding hotel and casino in a contemporary and sophisticated way.

Rammed earth construction has been used in the Southwest since the time of the Anasazi. The ancient traditions of building that today have been glamorized as "green design", such as use of local materials which can easily be returned to the earth, were the essential principals of building and survival in the harsh, treeless climate of southwestern America.

The problem of constructing rammed earth in the surrounding hotel casino prevented us from using traditional rammed earth building techniques. To overcome this, a panelized system was devised which allowed us to bring the sensual, natural texture and weight of rammed earth into the heavily trafficked area of the casino floor. Using locally procured subsoil, the panels were created in an on-site warehouse and assembled in the later phases of construction. The typical mix of synthetic/composite/plastic materials of the standard hotel interior is replaced with local labor and assembly; the typical condition of disjunction and illusion is replaced with authenticity and texture. A space is made into a place.

The wood in the project was a red oak veneer which helped eliminate waste from using conventional solid hard wood. The existing concrete floor was reused.



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Material in ASL Library: Form Core Boards, Project Description Form, Exteriors Photos, Location Map, Site Plan, Floor Plan, and Interior Photos

These images are low-resolution reproductions of the images provided for the AIA Nevada Design Awards. All materials should be considered copyrighted and may not be reproduced or used without permission.

Monday, 17-Dec-2012 10:50:06 PST