March 11, 2011
convention sketch
MICE Space, Las Vegas Convention, (source)
Ivan Sutherland Demonstrating the Sketchpad System on the Console of the TX-2, MIT, 1963 (source)


‘I want to do a mini Las Vegas… I want to build 20,000+ rooms and millions of square feet of shopping and MICE space’.

—Sheldon Adelson, Chairman and CEO, LV Sands



MICE space (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) hosts planned activities for professionals. Offering a cocktail of spatial products, MICE balances polar travel motivations: business and pleasure. Successfully combining these two markets has transformed resort development, particularly in Las Vegas.


Mr. Adelson’s Sands Corporation pioneered a mixture of gaming, hospitality, shopping and convention space with Las Vegas’ Venetian and Palazzzo resorts. Arranged around a fancifully themed spectacle, Venice’s Grand Canal, shoppers stroll simulated banks or employ a singing gondolier to transverse the mall. Monday through Thursday, MICE is filled with conventioneering professionals. While they’re not meeting, they are eating, drinking shopping and seeking entertainment—including gambling—financed with above average incomes and corporate expensing.


Convention activity dovetails nicely with Las Vegas’ traditional user group. Passing in the airport on Friday afternoon, MICE users vacate rooms, tables and bars as the weekend shift arrives.


By creating through-week demand, MICE space has expanded Las Vegas’ theoretical capacity to seven nights per week. Developers responded with premium resorts. Contemporary projects average over $1M per key—an inconceivable outlay in the pre-MICE era.


A Las Vegas developer recently declared ‘You don’t build your church for Easter, but in Las Vegas, everyday is Easter’.


Las Vegas exemplifies spectacular exuberance. The continual party atmosphere has been—oddly—enhanced by conventioneers. By expanding weekday volume, MICE space has become a critical spatial product which Mr. Adelson is now exporting.


Speaking of his recently opened $5.5B Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Sheldon said ‘We are already running out of MICE space and I’ve told the government that we need some more’…


Brook Denison


It is astonishing that so many architects continue to draw with mice. While the habit can certainly be learned, mousing divorces the desktop-bound motions of the hand from the on-screen production of a line such that the experience can feel less like drawing and more like the effort required to snatch that overvalued stuffed rabbit using the remotely-controlled robotic claw at the arcade. In other words, it’s a thoroughly unnatural act.


Computer-aided drafting was not always this way. Indeed, some of the earliest computer graphics systems featured interfaces more akin to traditional drawing methods. For example, Ivan Sutherland’s groundbreaking 1963 Sketchpad program utilized a ‘light pen’ which enabled users to draft directly on the surface of a CRT screen. However, 1963 also saw the invention of the first mouse prototype at the Stanford Research Institute. In 1984 when Apple’s influential Macintosh computer was released with a mouse, manufacturers and software developers quickly followed suit. Like everyone else, architects (who were just beginning to integrate computers into their workflow) were left with few other options.


Today however, more natural interfaces for computer-aided drawing do exist, and other creative professions such as graphic design and photography have already adopted them. With the spread of more affordable graphics tablets and touchscreen interfaces (not to mention the rise of repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome) one must ask: why do architects continue to hold onto their mice?


Jacob Reidel


Edited by Erandi de Silva




« previous post

next post »