January 23, 2014
The Vegas Paradox: In Sin City, excess and efficiency walk hand in hand

Viva Las Vegas, with your neon flashin’
And your one-arm bandits crashin’

All those hopes down the drain.

Viva Las Vegas, turnin’ day into nighttime

Turnin’ night into daytime
If you see it once
You’ll never be the same again.
– Elvis Presley, 1964

J.C. Davis pilots a white sedan through a late-vintage planned community about 10 miles southeast of the Las Vegas Strip. Nearly empty streets curve gently past architectural features tinted the bland beige shades mandated by each development – a khaki wall here, tan homes there, a sand-colored CVS pharmacy – like lithium for the eyes. Just past a biscuit-colored Starbucks, Davis parks on a street that, for now, marks the dividing line between suburbia and open desert. Here, workers put the finishing touches on a row of closely snuggled, nearly identical stucco houses, colored – you guessed it – beige, and capped with trendy tan tile roofs.

From the passenger seat, I gaze in bafflement. Ostensibly, Davis, the gregarious, clean-cut public information officer for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, is here to show me a “Water Smart” home. I had pictured a one-off prototype that would never really be lived in – some sort of rammed-earth, recycled-cardboard affair complete with composting toilet and a hairy, unwashed tenant.

Instead, I get Inspirada, a new-urbanist community conceived in 2004, when houses were sprouting in southern Nevada at a rate of more than three per hour. On 1,900 acres bought from the Bureau of Land Management for $577 million, a consortium of developers planned 11,500 homes arranged in seven “villages,” each with its own theme. The community was meant to evoke pre-World War II America, with a town square, parks and a boutique casino. Yet even as the Desert Mermaids frolicked in a community pool and an American Idol star belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the 2007 grand opening, the whole “build it and they will buy” credo was evaporating under the desert sun. The Southwestern housing market twirled into free fall, and Inspirada’s developers ultimately went bankrupt with less than 700 homes built. But with the market making a sputtering comeback, Inspirada is reviving.

Read the rest of the story 

June 14, 2012
A certain dream I had.
Source: gin+gelato

A certain dream I had.

Source: gin+gelato

June 12, 2012
uNclear. Photo illustration, Operation Plumbob, Nevada, 1957.
Source: gin+gelato

uNclear. Photo illustration, Operation Plumbob, Nevada, 1957.

Source: gin+gelato

May 4, 2012
Four cubes and sky. Mormon Mesa, Nevada.
Source: gin+gelato

Four cubes and sky. Mormon Mesa, Nevada.

Source: gin+gelato

May 4, 2012
Crazy plant, Virgin River in background. Mormon Mesa, Nevada.
source: gin+gelato

Crazy plant, Virgin River in background. Mormon Mesa, Nevada.

source: gin+gelato

April 1, 2012
Nevada underpass (after I had seen Gerhard Richter’s Panorama exhibit in Berlin), March 2012.
Source: gin+gelato

Nevada underpass (after I had seen Gerhard Richter’s Panorama exhibit in Berlin), March 2012.

Source: gin+gelato

March 31, 2012
The power grid. Eastern Nevada. March 2012
Source: gin+gelato

The power grid. Eastern Nevada. March 2012

Source: gin+gelato

March 29, 2012
Gas station and mountains. Wendover, Utah and Nevada, 2012.
Source: gin+gelato

Gas station and mountains. Wendover, Utah and Nevada, 2012.

Source: gin+gelato

March 24, 2012
land and sky and light. Northeastern Nevada.
Source: gin+gelato

land and sky and light. Northeastern Nevada.

Source: gin+gelato

March 23, 2012
On the way to Double Negative, Nevada.
Source: gin+gelato

On the way to Double Negative, Nevada.

Source: gin+gelato

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