Las Vegas, Are You Ready? The Marquee Club, Part 1: The Space

Live Design

Jay-Z and Chris Martin were in the house. Superstar DJs whipped the crowd into sheer frenzy as the countdown toward midnight began on December 31, 2010, and Marquee officially opened as the hottest new thing on the Las Vegas Strip. With 62,000sq-ft. of style by architect David Rockwell of Rockwell Group, Marquee has ushered in a new level of high-tech club design where lighting and video add layers of visual excitement.

Marquee, run by the Tao Group, is located at The Cosmopolitan, the latest hotel/casino project to open in Vegas. With stylish design elements throughout the hotel by Rockwell, Marquee follows suit. "We were brought in when the club was added to David's scope of work and were an integral part of the club from the initial design, adding some of the performance elements to Rockwell's lush visual exciting environment," says lighting designer Jules Fisher, whose firms, Third Eye, Fisher Dachs Associates (FDA), and Fisher Marantz Stone (FMS), all played a role in the design and technology for Marquee, from elements of the performance stage to the entertainment and architectural lighting systems. Additional consultants on the project included LD Steve Lieberman, video gurus SenovvA, visual content creators V Squared Labs, and Show Motion for the stage machinery.

With 60'-tall ceilings and coliseum-style seating around the dance floor, a massive video wall, and numerous projection surfaces, Marquee features public spaces on three floors: the main dance floor, the Library one level up, the Boom Box below, and a fourth level above it all dedicated to rack rooms. "It was interesting to see how the overall design of the club evolved from a technical angle once all the consultants began collaborating with the Rockwell Group," says Michael Hemmenway, an associate at FMS.

"The goal was to create a seamless integration of club experience, the performance elements, and the architectural environment," Hemmenway adds. "What was unusual compared to most projects was that all the designers worked together in a true collaboration with a lot of people with overlapping experience to create a unique space unlike any other, with no rigid separation of competence."

One of the things that sets Marquee apart as a club is the three-level performance stage that features a system of frontlight for performers, as well as theatrical sidelights, scrims, video, and lighting effects as specified by FDA and Third Eye, in conjunction with Lieberman and SenovvA. These include light pods over the dance floor that move up and down to compress or expand the space and multilayered projection surfaces behind the stage. The stage systems were supervised by Alec Stoll, project manager for FDA, and engineered by Show Motion.

The stage itself is a 40'-tall, three-tier structure elevated 5' above the dance floor, with an 8' thrust and three independently retractable, white sharkstooth scrims. "The center scrim is 20' wide, and the two on the sides are each 9' across," says Bill Mensching, president of Show Motion. "One of the challenges was how to keep the scrims tight while rolling up vertically." They are powered by electric motors with a top speed capacity of 12' per second.

There are three levels of narrow catwalks behind the scrims. Behind the catwalks is the 30'x32' GLIC video wall, and then the back wall of the venue. The venue wall is used as a cyc and lit with Selador Lustr by ETC LED fixtures addressed in 1' segments, with approximately 48 linear feet on the back wall and another 96 linear feet on curtains that create additional projection surfaces.

The combination of scrims, catwalks, and the LED wall allow dancers to perform on various levels on the performance tower, which also comprises a hydraulic drawbridge for the DJ and dancers. "This unfolds and cantilevers out over the dance floor with the DJ gear on it, and then the DJ walks out. The bottom of the drawbridge is covered with LEDs, so it blends with the LED wall behind it when folded up," says Mensching, adding that Show Motion installed the LEDs onto the drawbridge.