At almost two million square feet and sporting a massive LED-equipped "Cloud" at its entrance, the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas is a destination shopping venue that might only be possible in Vegas, you say. But is it? As experiential shopping becomes a major trend, don't bet that what happens in Vegas is going to stay in Vegas.
Fashion Show Mall is located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, and is owned by the General Growth Properties Inc. (The Rouse Company, who developed Fashion Show, was sold to General Growth Properties, in 2004 after almost sixty-five years and highly successful track record in mall development.) With 1,900,000+ ft of space, this is one of the largest enclosed malls in the world. The mall has over two hundred stores, seven anchors, an elevated stage, a fashion runway, and of course the Cloud.
The mall opened in 1981 with Dillard's, The Broadway, Goldwaters, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue. It was originally only 64,000 ft. In 2003, Neiman Marcus expanded from 102,000 ft to 160,000 ft, Saks Fifth Avenue and Dillard's both relocated in the west end of the mall, and Macy's and Robinsons-May expanded as well. A new West end was added to the mall adding 500,000 ft of store space, including The Great Hall, where fashion shows are performed throughout the day. Bloomingdale's Home (first in the nation) and Nordstrom opened in the west end of the mall as well in that year. A Nokia Experience was built in front of the building's entrance of the anchor. Also, as part of the east expansion, the Cloud and an 11,000 square foot food court opened on the third level.
On September 9, 2006, following Federated's purchase of May Department Stores, Robinsons-May became the second Macy's store at Fashion Show. The Mall now has eight major department stores, which include Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Dillard's, Robinsons-May, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales. Additionally, there are a number of unique stores that are difficult to find in other locations. Along with the department stores, there are more than 200 boutique and chain shops. The expansion saw many of Fashion Show's best stores survive, such as Coco's Gifts–and added a number of new shops, such as an Apple computer store, Cinnamon Girl (women's clothing), local clothing favorite Talulah G, a Williams-Sonoma, a variety of shoe stores and Z Gallerie.
The mall features several high-end restaurants, some accessible from private entrances and elevators so they may operate when the mall is closed.
For the winter holidays, the mall schedules snow storms inside (this Las Vegas after all).
The Cloud, at The Strip entrance is about 128 feet above the sidewalk and is 480 feet long. During the day, the structure provides shade for the entrance and at night it serves as a projection screen. As you prepare to enter the Mall, you look up to a very impressive 480 foot steel structure 120 feet above you. The Cloud was designed to provide shade and shelter from the hot Las Vegas sun. But it also features four movable LED screens below the cloud that show video of events happening inside the Fashion Mall.
Maintaining a Brand
Like everything else in Las Vegas, Fashion Show has now been re-designed as an entertainment destination, not merely a shopping mall. Although it is anchored by eight major department stores and provides almost two million square feet of retail space, much of that space is devoted to events. Electronic media technology provides a critical link to that world and provides the mechanism for engaging visitors in the excitement and energy of the fashion world.
In keeping with this branding challenge and to keep the project as operationally sensible as possible, the facility owners turned to Vantage Technology Consulting Group to help design and implement the media technologies that would make it a high performance entertainment destination that is also practical from an operational and maintenance perspective. Vantage has expertise in structured cabling, media distribution, multimedia production, digital media storage and playback as well as data networking and audiovisual presentation.
Vantage and systems integrator Ford AV placed a high priority in making the system as seamless as possible. Ford AV specified Harman Pro Group products including JBL Professional loud speakers and Crown amplifiers, both designed from the ground up to work together.
JBL Professional speakers used inside the mall varied from their low maintenance Control 26 ceiling speakers to the JBL Control 30, and JBL Control 29s on light poles outside. These were further enhanced by JBL AM 6315-95, a series of large speakers outside on what is called the media curb, used to attract tourists on the strip into the facility. These particular speakers, designed to work seamlessly with the Crown MA and CTS amplifiers, are important is because of the necessity of integrating these high end, yet low maintenance audio systems into a complex network of media technologies.
“The idea behind creating technology systems at this mall,” Jason Koehler of Vantage Technology Consulting noted, “is to intertwine all systems. A computer data network carries audio on it and there are video servers on site, so technology permeates the entire building. The design provides flexibility and future-proofs the system for special shows they want to do now, and in the future.”
The Great Hall at the Fashion Show Mall comprises a huge runway stage that comes up out of the ground for extravagant fashion shows. There is a professional-grade lighting grid there and JBL Professional speakers that descend dramatically from the ceiling. This area has a dedicated control center. From here, spreading out to the rest of the mall is a series of background speakers to provide music throughout and also to support special live events. Therefore, the design had to be good enough to go beyond background music and handle quality live music.
That quality was critical to the overall concept. The owners, and designers had to ask themselves: How could a mall compete with the big Las Vegas attractions nearby, such as Treasure Island with its battling pirate ships and loud cannons? The answer was to make it an entertainment destination itself where people would attend concerts, fashion shows and other glitzy entertainment. Additionally, the systems in place would need to draw customers from the Las Vegas Strip into the entertainment areas of the interior mall.
The design concept called for placing high quality speakers and LED video displays outside to attract customers in. The loudspeakers subtly increase in volume as pedestrians draw nearer to the entrance. Also, events anywhere inside or outside the mall can serve as promotional vehicles, based on the technology.
“That was the concept,” stated Koehler. “To accomplish this, we did audio, then video and then the data network as three systems that would have to work together. These are all tied into what are called Media Hydrants that allow you to connect different signals outside to the interior infrastructure. For example, if they want to host a party anywhere in the mall, they connect to a Media Hydrant where they can patch a portable entertainment system into it and bring up audio or video or messaging on those LED screens.”
This sort of technology, when designed by a renowned consultant such as Vantage and implemented by an integrator with the status of Ford AV, serves the purpose not only of enabling the fulfillment of the high end brand message of Fashion Show, but by using integrated brands designed to work together, cuts down on maintenance costs and operational challenges as well. It’s drawing the customers, delivering the message and making the operation run smoothly.
Barco Media was awarded the contract to provide state-of-the-art digital display solutions at the Fashion Show. Barco installed seven of its outdoor and indoor LED displays totaling 4,300 square feet at the facility. Barco’s DLite and ILite displays are used for dynamic advertising and entertainment. The displays are suspended from motorized hoists in the ceiling to create a backdrop for a never-ending cavalcade of fashion shows and other special events such as product introductions and brand showcases. The position of the three displays is independently controlled so they will display their own independent images, or they can be joined together to provide a dramatic, panoramic effect. When not in use, the displays retract neatly out of sight to the ceiling.
The four outdoor DLite 14 displays are installed on a 380 foot long curved rail system–the largest of its kind in the world–located approximately 32 feet above Fashion Show’s 72,000 square foot plaza along the Strip. These brilliant, full color displays move independently or in conjunction with each other along the track. Like the indoor displays, each display can run its own content or work together to form a continual kaleidoscope of color and motion. The displays are now one of the most spectacular sights on the “Strip.”
Gregory E. Zimmerman, Vice President & Development Director, The Rouse Company, who developed the Fashion Show, stated, “Just as Las Vegas offers visitors a truly unique experience, Fashion Show’s recent expansion will offer retailers and customers an unforgettable shopping experience. In addition to numerous, quality stores, we are now able to offer live fashion-related shows and other multi-media entertainment and events thanks to the superior video quality of the Barco LED displays and the one-of-a-kind moving track. The indoor and outdoor Barco LED displays not only enhance the Fashion Show brand and distinguish Fashion Show along one of the world’s most visible streets, but they also allow our customers to enjoy a state-of-the-art retail development and a memorable shopping experience.”