Long before COVID-19 got mall owners to try to expand their tenant curations to Amazon fulfillment centers and medical centers, the developers of AREA15 in Las Vegas envisioned an art-inspired consumer bazaar with a 23-ft.-high Japanese maple tree festooned with LED lights and something called The Beast Pop-Up Food Experience.
The much-ballyhooed Vegas attraction opens on Sept. 17, billing itself as “Art galaxy, not art gallery” with art one can literally get into. Its centerpiece will be the Omega Mart, which will feature ever-changing collections from Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf Art Collective.
“We set out to design something that has never been built before: a vast bunker to house the burgeoning experience economy,” said Michael Beneville, a founding partner and chief creative officer of AREA15.
Located minutes from the Vegas Strip, AREA15 promises immersive activations, "monumental" art installations, socially-distanced events, "extraordinary" design elements, unique retail, "ground-breaking" technology, bars, eateries and more. The complex houses 40,000 sq ft. of indoor and outdoor event space with more than 800 free parking spaces.
Sept. 17 marks the initial phase of AREA15’s rolling opening, which will see the ongoing addition of new experiences and tenants through the fall, culminating with the early 2021 opening of the Omega Mart.
The attractions opening on Sept. 17 include:
Art Island: A permanent gallery for large-scale, festival-inspired artwork. Think Burning Man.
Birdly Virtual Reality Experience: Make like a bird and fly over New York, Singapore, and prehistoric worlds.
The Beast Pop-up Food Experience – AREA15’s outdoor event space, A-Lot, will be transformed into an outdoor dining experience, complete with art sculptures and art cars.
Haley’s Comet: AREA15 calls it the first indoor electric dual-track suspension ride in the United States. It whisks riders through the huge art pieces in The Spin-- the futuristic project’s version of the concourse—filled with shops, restaurants, and, of course, art.
Wild Muse Boutique: The shop sells handcrafted apparel, accessories, art, and eco-friendly health and wellness products.
AREA15’s developers aim to stay true to their futuristic form in complying with COVID-19 safety and distancing regulations. An AI-driven thermal scanning platform, for instance, will non-invasively screen visitors’ body temperatures and detect whether or not they’re masked.