Container Park, Las Vegas
So, I am hanging out in Vegas, I don’t gamble, I don’t drink, I don’t like crowds, I think most of the entertainment they are offering is cheesy plus I do not want to spend $400 to see freaking Britney Spares. And a Prince cover band, seriously! Nah, I’ll pass. I would prefer the real thing. If you’ve seen 1 drag queen show, you’ve seen them all. The cirque du soleil shows are kinda cool – check; Chippendale’s dancers – check; zip lining down Fremont street – check. I have seen the outlet malls, the Fashion Show mall, the Miracle Mile mall, I have toured all the major hotels, and the under ground malls, I’ve had several helpings from the various ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffets, gained 5 lbs in 5 days and I still have 3 days before I return home. What to do? what to do?
A lengthy chat with the concierge turned up a hidden gem in Downtown Vegas. The Container Park – why is this interesting to me- I majored in Urban and regional planning in college (minored in Geography) I was curious to see modern day Urban Planning in full effect. Plus I am just different. And this place is different.
Here’s the deal – Vegas is to home to several entrepreneurs who have great ideas for new businesses. However, there is no place for their businesses to go. unless they are willing to wait for new buildings to be completed – and that can be a long process.
To speed up the process, The City of Las Vegas with the help of Zappos is employing what has been described as flexible urbanism. They’re transforming an underused, high value urban area by installing re-purposed shipping containers and Xtreme Cubes. These Xtreme Cubes, which are manufactured locally, houses small businesses such as cafes, boutiques, bars, galleries, and more. The park is made completely of shipping containers stacked upon each other and it incorporates community space, outdoor seating, and children’s play area to activate the center of the neighborhood.
Although downtown Vegas is kinda sketchy, I decided to be adventurous and hopped on the Deuce to go check it out.
The Container Park is on the southeast corner of Fremont and Seventh streets. It’s a mix of several shipping containers (I am told there are 30 of ’em) as well as modular cubes (41 Xtreme cubes).
When you approach the park from Fremont Street, there is a heart shaped sculpture covered with smaller metal hearts with messages of devotion written on them, all of them padlocked to the sculpture itself. The heart was originally created for the Life is Beautiful festival by artist Nova May. Yep, I am in for something different.
Next to the heat (at the entrance of the Container Park) is a giant flame-spewing steel sculpture of a praying mantis. This It’s 55-foot-tall steel sculpture is built atop a dump truck. I am told that it was originally built for use at the Burning Man festival in Northern Nevada’s Black Rock desert. How
Next to the sculpture there is a structure called the Catalyst Dome. It looks like an igloo and displays some groovy colors at at night. The structure is used for corporate events, private parties, performances, screenings and multimedia demonstrations. I would party there.
The sign at the main entrance of the Container Park is, in my opinion, a work of art. It is a creative use of negative and positive elements. Imagine an over sized laser cut out forming a monogrammed ‘windows’ (the negative) that spell “C-O-N-T-A-I-N-E-R P-A-R-K.” The positive pieces are placed atop the ‘windows’ to complete the look. Too cool – It looks like they used a super sized cricut machine to make it.
The sign is cut into a gray and orange shipping container, and also functions as a bridge.
I walk through and viewed some of the action on Fremont Street from large window.
The west side of Downtown Container Park is has small galleries while the east side as mostly fashion and accessories. Dining and drinking outlets are scattered throughout the development.
There is a playground and an interactive zone designed for children at the center of the par. A shipping container has been converted into a 30-foot-tall tree-house with three different slides that I wanted to try out but thought it would be weird because I had no children with me. Kids can also play with the NEOS Playworld System, an electronic game that encourages them to race around while hitting flashing lights.
I was so fascinated by the park experience, that I almost missed the Real train tracks that were laid for a boxcar and a caboose. There is an outdoor stage with a canopy, an audiovisual tower and lawn with benches positioned in front of the tracks.
There was an awesome indie band playing in the at the outdoor amphitheater that night. I got some food, then walked down to Fremont to take in the Viva Vision shows – It’s 12.5 million lights and 550,000 watts of sound. On my way back to the hotel I noticed a gathering of some bohemian looking hipster types. I stopped to check it out. I was in front of the Emergency Arts building where they were having a pop-up art show featuring artists, writers, photographers, clothing designers, musicians, film-makers, artisans, graphic designers, and entertainers. This was not Elvis’ Vegas!
Yeah, I am kinda digging downtown Vegas and the Container Park.