In Learning from Las Vegas Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown focused on the glamour of the Las Vegas Strip, analysing the city for its postmodernist qualities while igring the Mojave desert immediately beyond. Exploring the city at the same time as Venturi and Scott-Brown, the rewned architectural historian and critic Reyner Banham focused his attention on what he saw as the strikingly modernist spaces of the Mojave desert and disregarded the postmodernist lure of the Strip. Urbanizing the Mojave Desert: Las Vegas presents neither a modernist r a postmodernist view of the city and its environment. The text and images do t project ideals of urban development, r do they solve social and environmental problems. Rather, they present a hybrid landscape shaped and reshaped by practices of everyday urbanisation for a city w characterised as the first city of the 21st century. They offer a third site , exposing the complex but often interstitial spaces of everyday production and consumption tied to physical and virtual place making as well as con-temporary local and global investment. This perspective reframes the seamless surfaces of draped neon lights, curtain walls, and landscape features layered onto the Mojave s stark topography, uncovering distinct strata that respatialise the social, cultural, and environmental implications of urbanising a fierce yet fragile desert.
Nicole Huber is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Washington and a licensed architect in Germany. Ralph Stern is Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba.