Probe just beyond the more-is-more ethos of Las Vegas architecture, and a history becomes apparent. The first of the big-wattage hotels, the shocking-pink Flamingo, opened in 1946, with its married-to-the-mob décor and casino. Low-slung glamour—the Sands, the Stardust, the Riviera and the Tropicana, with its sixty-foot waterfall—arrived in the fifties. Symbolism replaced neon in the sixties with the futurist Paul Williams-designed La Concha and, in 1966, Caesars Palace, that dream-of-Roman-excess envisioned by entrepreneurs Melvin Grossman and Jay Sarno. Building and cachet lagged in the seventies, but architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour put the city on the map as a site for vernacular brilliance in their seminal book, Learning from Las Vegas.

The architectural firm of Wimberly Allison Tong Goo and interior designers Wilson Associates were asked to create an oasis for a guest who might have spent the last year acquiring a dozen companies in eight countries and was en route to London from Tokyo. There would be no steroid-pumped columns, no glitz. And no expense spared.

Committed to achieving the atmosphere of a great, old family residence, Lanni and Yemenidjian traveled with Jerry Beale, who supervised the design along with Karen Dankberg, to purchase art for the twenty-nine villas. They chose a pair of eight-hundred-year-old Tang horses, two Matisse drawings, a Sol LeWitt canvas, a sixteenth-century altarpiece and original works by Fernand Léger, Picasso, Jennifer Bartlett, Frank Stella and Helen Frankenthaler.

Read more about “The Mansion at MGM Grand: Tuscan-Inspired Villas Redefine Las Vegas Luxe” in Architectural Digest by Irene Borger on February 28, 2001