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Overview

Like everything else in Vegas, dining is high stakes and high speed. This former cowboy town has a culinary culture that was born and still lives in the shadow of the city’s main attraction casinos. Big-name restaurants did not come to Vegas until the mid to late 1960s when the tourist trade took off big-time. That’s when casinos joined the arms race to attract world-class eateries. The result has been a booming business for architects, as long as they have the skill and resources to choreograph dining scenes that high rollers would look twice at. The firms on this list meet that criteria. Each one is a giant among giants, as each has a reputation for design brilliance that has gotten the attention of a famed chef or Vegas kingmaker. The ranking was trickier. It came down to experience, innovation, and genius.

Top Architects

BWA

Architects:
Joel Bergman
Scott Walls
Leonard A Bergman

Awards:
Sarno Lifetime Achievement Award for Casino Design,
UNLV Artists and Entertainers Hall of Fame

Address:
709 Valle Verde Court, Henderson, NV 89014

About BWA

Established in 1994, BWA is an internationally recognized architecture firm known for designing projects that focus on hospitality, dining, retail, and entertainment. Over the years, the firm has worked on famous structures such as the interiors for Caesars Palace and the design for Trump Las Vegas. Because of such a reputation, the firm has expanded its reach to Minneapolis and Seattle and even went as far as Southeast Asia. BWA was founded by architectural legend Joel Bergman. Famous for shaping the Las Vegas skyline, Bergman earned his architecture degrees at the University of Southern California before joining Steve Wynn’s in-house architecture team and designed The Mirage and Treasure Island casinos.

Featured Projects

The Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace is a 25,000 square foot eatery with seating for close to 600. BWA’s design showcases the cooking process in an ultramodern, upscale atmosphere. Patrons can choose to dine in a glass, wood, or steel-decorated section as they watch the fast-paced food preparation playing out in nine exhibition kitchens. Also found at Caesars is Central Michel Ricard, a 9,600 square-foot restaurant dishing out American food with French elegance. Structural highlights are a double-sided full bar and outdoor patio terrace. “Surreal” best describes BWA’s design of Beijing Noodle No. 9, a $3.6 million project completed at Caesars in 2008. Many layers of light decorate the ceiling of this 3,600 square-foot, ultra-modern eatery that specializes in Northern Chinese cuisine. There are stencils and laser cut screens on the walls and giant fish tanks at the entrance.

EV & A

Architects:
Edward Vance

Awards:
AIA Nevada Young Architect citation,
the AIA Nevada Service Award,
AIA Nevada Silver Medal

Address:
900 South Pavilion Center Drive, Suite 180, Las Vegas, NV 89144

About EV & A

A firm that provides a wide range of architectural, planning, and interior design services, EV & A was established in 2006 and is known for specializing in designing for the hospitality, commercial, and healthcare markets. In its portfolio are impressive projects including the Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino, the Dynasty Resort Hotel & Casino, the Las Vegas Convention Center, and buildings at the World Market Center. The principals of this firm have about 60 years of combined architecture experience in Las Vegas. Edward A. Vance, FAIA, received his bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University. He’s certified by the NCARB and is registered in seven states. Before starting the firm, Vance had served as president of the nationally renowned design firm JMA Architecture Studios. This experience has helped him gain honors such as the AIA Nevada Young Architect Citation and the AIA Nevada Silver Medal. He also served three years on AIA’s National Board of Directors. Co-founder and present Executive Vice President Jonelle L. Vance, NCIDQ, LEED AP, meanwhile studied design and art at Avia College. She, too, worked at JMA Architecture Studios, as principal-in-charge and project manager.

Featured Projects

EV & A has done two stand-out dining projects for the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s restaurant collection. For chef David Myers’ French bistro Comme Ça, EV & A chose mosaic tiles for the floor and mixed distressed oak with glass for the walls. Amber glass chandeliers and pewter accents create a vintage look. There’s even a private cabana on the wraparound patio. For seafood restaurant Estiatorio Milos, a Mediterranean atmosphere was the choice for one of the best Greek eateries in Las Vegas. That means ancient Cycladic art on the walls, marble on the floors, cases of aging meat and wines, aquatic murals, and white oak and stucco throughout. The bar is made out of pure white marble and one of the private dining areas enclosed in glass offers a spectacular view of the Strip.

Gensler

Architects:
Art Gensler
Andy Cohen
Stephen Ranck

Awards:
ENR #1 Green Building Design Firm in Commercial Offices,
Building Design + Construction Giants #1 Office Sector Architecture Firm,
Design Futures Council Lifetime Achievement Award

Address:
3883 Howard Hughes Parkway, Suite 650, Las Vegas, NV 89169

About Gensler

Since 1965, Gensler has been growing: it has built up to a staff of over 6,000 employees and has expanded its offices to Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and North and South America. This reputation has consistently given it the top rank on Interior Design magazine’s list of largest firms. In 2019, it was also included on ENR’s list of Top 500 Design Firms. In the same year, it was honored with two AIA awards and was recognized by Commercial Observer with Design of the Year.
As a result of that exposure, the firm has worked on several high profile projects including the 19 million square foot, mixed-use private development complex known as the City Center in the heart of Las Vegas. Currently, the firm is led by co-CEOs Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen. These experienced professionals have been included on Business Insider’s Elite Creator’s List. Hoskins and Cohen’s game-changing perspectives have also earned them features in publications such as CNN, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Milken Institute, Harvard Business Review, and Fortune among many other publications.

Featured Projects

In 2016, award-winning chef and Chopped winner Roy Ellamar chose Las Vegas as the location for his farm-to-table concept, Harvest at the Bellagio. Gensler’s community-centric design features a lounge at the restaurant’s entrance and a wall leading to a public promenade. Lighting fixtures at the mixologist bar are made of hand-blown glass. Though the restaurant initially presents strong wood and stone materials intricate details on the tabletop and upholstery contribute to softening the restaurant’s overall features. Andiamo Steakhouse is another notable project where old-world architecture is mixed with sophisticated materials and a color palette that maintains the brand’s strong Detroit roots. Adorned with dark walnut panels, rich leathers, custom-made dome lights, and intricate drapes and fabrics, the restaurant has an air that calls for an elaborate but intimate dining experience.

KGA Architecture

Architects:
Ed Kittrell
George Garlick

Awards:
AIA Honor Design Award,
the AIA Nevada Merit Award,
The Outstanding Builder of the Year Award,
AIA Nevada Architectural Firm Award

Address:
9075 West Diablo Drive, Third Floor, Las Vegas, NV 89148

About KGA Architecture

When asked about his firm’s beginnings in 1975, partner Ed Kittrell, AIA, said that he and co-founder George Garlick, AIA, were “like the left hand and the right hand.” He was referring to the roles each naturally fell into: Garlock was the designer; Kittrell handled the company’s technical side. Forty years later, the two are still at the helm of a firm that’s licensed in 19 states and routinely handles elaborate projects for some of Las Vegas’s top power brokers. The firm has offices in Nevada and Texas and, before the recession in 2008, employed 100 people. Its portfolio is diverse, with an obvious strength in restaurant design. KGA has been honored with more than 35 awards, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Design Award, the AIA Nevada Merit Award, The Outstanding Builder of the Year Award, and the AIA Nevada Architectural Firm Award.

Featured Projects

Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace is celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s inroad to the Las Vegas dining landscape. The critically acclaimed casino restaurant serves food reminiscent of the American Southwest and KGA Architecture’s design of the 8,800 square foot eatery captured the essence of its rich cuisine. Colors are bold and the textures contrast tastefully. There are 28 seats at the bar and three levels to the dining room. At Chef Andre Rochat’s chic Alize in The Palms Casino Resort, French elegance was the theme. Parquet floors are glossy and the cabinets are made of glass. The hallway was designed to sparkle: light bounces off the cognac bottles and off the wood-paneled walls. For the now-closed but much-talked-about Ghostbar found at The Palms, a dramatic design was created to fit a nightclub built on an ivory tower 55 floors above ground.

Klai Juba Wald Architects

Architects:
John Klai II
Dan Juba
John Wald

Awards:
AIA Nevada Distinguished Service Award,
AIA Western Mountain Region Silver Medal Award

Address:
4444 West Russell Road, Suite J, Las Vegas, NV 89118

About Klai Juba Wald Architects

It wasn’t long after its founding in 1995 that Klai Juba Wald Architects was considered part of the Vegas hospitality elite architects. Specializing in the architecture, design, and planning for gaming resorts and hospitality projects, this firm has gained a stellar reputation for its excellent design for projects on The Strip and has been featured in industry publications such as Architectural Digest. This recognized firm was founded by principals John Klai and Dan Juba. Principal and co-founder John Klai studied at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University. Before starting the firm, he served as vice president at Marnell Companies. Co-founder Dan Juba heads the firm’s design department and is responsible for projects such as the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and the Luxor Hotel expansion. Juba also studied architecture at North Dakota State University and is a registered architect in nine states. Like his partner Klai, Juba had served as vice president of Marnell.

Featured Projects

Architectural Digest mentioned Klai Juba Wald Architects for designing what it called an “intoxicating” four-story wine storage design for Mandalay Bay’s Aureole restaurant. Klai’s brilliant design was inspired by scenes from the spy thriller Mission Impossible. Wine stewards must be fitted with harnesses to navigate the 10,000 wine bottles stored in a climate-controlled, stainless-steel structure rightly called a “wine tower.” Less grand is Klai Juba Wald Architects’s crisp and clean design of the Brigg’s Oyster Company eatery at the Suncoast Casino. The monochrome interior frames creatively designed black pendant lights–covered with industrial wire—hover over a U-shaped bar adjoining an oyster-shucking station. At Planet Hollywood, the firm’s meticulous architecture plan at the Heart Bar drew diners who specialize in people-watching. And its design of The Copper Whisk café at The Orleans meanwhile shows its mastery of a French-themed dining experience.

Marnell Companies

Architects:
Anthony A. Marnell
David G. Howryla
Mitchell A. Trageton

Awards:
NEWH Best Fine Dining Award,
NEWH Vegas HOSPY Award,
James Beard Award

Address:
222 Via Marnell Way, Las Vegas, NV 89119

About Marnell Architecture

An internationally renowned architecture firm recognized by local and national publications, Marnell Companies was founded in 1982 and is known for handling planning, design, construction, development, and consulting. Still run by Tony A. Marnell—one of Sin City’s most legendary Strip architects, the firm has been honored by the Las Vegas Chapter of NEWH for extraordinary design achievements that include awards for the best hotel, best lobby, best suite, and best lounge bar. Such honors can only be achieved with a skilled team of craftsmen and the guidance of Tony A. Marnell. After earning a bachelor’s from the University of Southern California, Marnell spent two years in graduate school studying with legendary architect Professor Alfred Caldwell. The training paid off big: Marnell went on to design and build such Vegas landmarks as the Rio Hotel in 1998 and the Bellagio and became the architect of record for Wynn’s The Mirage. Marnell also served as executive design architect for the $1.1 billion Borgata casino.

Featured Projects

Marnell won a Best Fine Dining award from NEWH for Terzetto, which is much more than a steakhouse. The $9 million project featured a marble table with seating for 12 that is suspended from above. Just as stunning are the elaborate glass walls, teak wood trim, and floating ceiling planes. The Hostile Grape also fetched an NEWH Vegas HOSPY award for extraordinary design. The $3.8 million lounge serves wine by the glass. Its grandiose entrance is marked by a series of stairs which begins a linear design that boasts glass light wells to allow patrons to enjoy the outdoors but remain inside. Few chefs have rocked the dining scene anywhere in the world as has James Beard Award winner David Chang of Momofuku fame in New York. So, when The Cosmopolitan was undergoing a facelift, Marnell was pegged as the Architect by The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to convert the 200-seat restaurant from a retail space that lacked the infrastructure for a dining establishment. Imbued with hip Asian chic interiors, the restaurant features an exhibition kitchen.

Novus Architecture

Architects:
Dwayne R. Eshenbaugh

Awards:
Daryl B. Dobras Award for Outstanding Graduate Student,
NEWH Top Design Firm

Address:
8 E. Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89104

About Novus Architecture

A full-service design, planning, interiors, and architecture firm, Novus Architecture is a full-service design firm with over 200 projects in its portfolio. Over the years, the firm has completed projects for the commercial, higher education, hospitality, and public work sectors. In 2016, this firm was recognized as the Top Design firm by the NEWH—the premier networking resource for the hospitality industry. Its restaurant projects include the Hofbrauhaus Bar, Atomic Kitchen & Bar, and Bailiwick, a gastropub at The Orleans Hotel & Casino. Novus Architecture was founded in 2009 by US Air Force Veteran Dwayne R. Eshenbaugh, AIA, member of the NCARB, and LEED Advanced Professional certified in Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD+C). Eshenbaugh received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Arizona, where he was honored with the Daryl B. Dobras Award for Outstanding Graduate Student in 1997. Senior Project Manager Marco Gonzalez, Associate AIA, NCARB, meanwhile received bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas Tech University, then interned at Dekker Perich Sabatini—one of the top architecture firms in the Southwest.

Featured Projects

Lavish doesn’t begin to describe the 7,300 square foot Lago at The Bellagio. With an interior that reflects Italian Futurism, the design highlights the artistic movement’s focus on experimentation and all things cutting edge. Another project is Five50 Pizza Bar at Aria. A $4 million project completed three weeks ahead of schedule, Novus Architecture managed the specifications, cost estimates, mechanical engineering, food service, structural engineering, audio-visual elements, acoustical design, lighting design, low-voltage, and ADA. For its work on Five50, Novus received a 2013 NEWH HOSPY Award.

Rockwell Group

Architects:
David Rockwell

Awards:
Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America,
James Beard Award

Address:
5 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003

About Rockwell Group

Few names in architecture circles carry the weight that David Rockwell’s does. Most telling about Rockwell’s reputation is that he is the one writers at The New York Times turn to for expert commentary on restaurant design anywhere in the world. Rockwell, often described as a “visionary,” has famously said his New York-based firm serves to support his “far reaching vision for creating spectacular dining environments.” The firm was founded in 1984. It does not maintain an office in Vegas but it’s hard to find elaborately designed restaurants in the city that Rockwell’s genius did not play some role in creating. Elsewhere, the Syracuse University graduate is best known for New York’s legendary Union Square Café, Thailand’s famed Yellow Tail Sushi Bar, and the exotic Nobu Doha in Qatar. Rockwell’s other projects include The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. His deep list of awards boasts five from The James Beard Foundation, and in 2010, Rockwell was inducted into the Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Featured Projects

For Five50 Pizza Bar at the Aria Hotel, Rockwell collaborated with Novus Architecture. This wildly popular and critically acclaimed restaurant showcases Rockwell’s choice of natural finish palettes and elements that honor Naples’ most famous culinary contribution to the world. The tiles on the floors are stamped and colored concrete, the ceiling is wrapped in chevron-patterned wood, and the bar is shaped like a horseshoe. White tiles curve around and completely encase the pizza oven. For the Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan, Rockwell created digital programs for an interactive viewing experience. Three stories of the lounge and bar are wrapped in crystal and string. Also at The Cosmopolitan is Jaleo by Jose Andres, which won the James Beard Award in 2013 for Best Restaurant Design. Bars at the entrance were fashioned out of wooden tapas. The floor is terrazzo inlay that’s decorated with olives, napkins, and bronze sea urchins. And, of course, no description of Jaleo would be complete without mentioning the famous taxidermied bull (a faux) on the wall.

WESTAR Architects

Address:
4052 Dean Martin Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89103

About WESTAR Architects

Contemporary design aesthetics and a plan that exhibits a space that interacts physically and emotionally with visitors are what WESTAR Architects is most known for.
Established in 1997, this firm specializes in master planning, architecture, interior design, branding, and restaurant development services. Over the years, the firm has completed over 200 bars, restaurants, and lounges that have earned it several awards that attracts a high-profile international clientele. Currently, the firm is handled by company president Patrick Klenk who is a LEED accredited professional affiliated with the AIA.

YWS Design & Architecture

Architects:
Tom Wucherer
Michael Stewart

Awards:
AIA Nevada Excellence in Design Awards and the AIA Nevada Architecture Firm Award

Address:
5005 West Patrick Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89118

About YWS Design & Architecture

Eight years after being founded in 2001, YWS Architects entered the global market where it expertly met challenges and honed its skills in designing, planning, and construction. Over the years, these skills have helped it earn numerous awards. Most recently, it was awarded the 2016 Gold Key Awards for its work on Topgolf Las Vegas. In the same year, it also won two HOSPYs and was given the Award of Merit for ENR SW’s Best Projects. Currently, the firm is managed by founding principal Tom Wucherer who has worked on world-renowned premier hospitality properties including the Bellagio and Treasure Island. Wucherer is also affiliated with different industry organizations like the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional.

Featured Projects

YWS Architect has designed several notable restaurant projects over the years. One great example is the sophisticated and elegant design for Bardot Brasserie at Aria Resort and Casino. The Brasserie calls to mind the informal bistros popular with Parisians at the turn of the 20th century. At the Bellagio Hotel & Casino, YWS Architect created modern decor for celebrity chef Todd English’s 6,000 square foot, high-end Olives Restaurant. Hakkasan at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino’s Hakkasan is a 89,000 square foot restaurant spanning five floors that includes a restaurant, night clubs, and a VIP room, all of which add to the nightclub ambiance. This project fetched a G2E 2013 Casino Design Award for Best Interior Design for a Casino Resort Restaurant or Nightclub.