Smith Center for the Performing Arts
David M. Schwarz Architects
In that context, it’s easy to dismiss the Smith Center for the Performing Arts as another ersatz vision for Las Vegas. Unlike the sleekly modern concert halls of cities where everything is up to date, like Kansas City, it is an art deco confection—a throwback to the 1930s (think Rockefeller Center and Los Angeles’ Union Station). That means some critics will question its architectural bona fides.
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Anyone who wants to draw a line between “real” and “fake” architecture has to look a few hundred yards south to the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Ruvo cloaks a rather ordinary medical clinic in a riot of curving, angled stainless steel panels—a Frank Gehry-designed fillip that helped attract donors and media attention, but added nothing to the building’s functionality. By almost any measure, Ruvo is more “fake” than the Smith Center.