Desert Getaway

The Guardian reports this morning that Donna Vassar, "part of the Vassar education dynasty, has launched plans to build a $300m (£150m) private getaway for stressed-out presidents and prime ministers who want to 'reconnect with their unique purpose in life'."
And it might look like this.

[Image: Design by Chetwoods Architects, via the Architects' Journal].

Referred to as the Universitas Leadership Sanctuary – or Destination Universitas – Vassar's desert complex, if built, will be "part monastery and part conference centre," and it will take the shape "of a four-storey globe on the shores of Lake Las Vegas, a privately-owned lake in the south Nevada desert."
The site will then be nothing less than the place "where the most powerful men and women on the planet can get away from it all with a combination of reading, contemplation and even a spot of gardening."
    The main globe building will be on four levels. The ground floor will house a library and the first floor a debating chamber, while on the second floor will be technology to help make the building energy efficient. At the top, under a dome of glass, will be the spiritual heart of the development – the contemplation space where leaders will be encouraged to sit in silence.
And sit in silence, I'm sure they will.
The design is by Chetwoods Architects – though they are apparently working with artist and architect Doug Patterson, whose earlier House Mustique supplied Vassar with a spot of inspiration.
More at the Guardian.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It reminds me of Superman's fortress of solitude.

April 11, 2008 11:33 AM  
Blogger david smolker said...

i wonder: does the world really need a place where world leaders can further isolate themselves from the people they represent? and in the desert, nonetheless?

donna vassar should climb down her ivory tower and resist the temptation to build that crazy spiky dandelion thing.

April 11, 2008 12:16 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Anyone notice the similarity between Chetwoods Architects' website and KPF's? Interesting..

April 11, 2008 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think putting all the world's leader in a single isolated spot in the desert is a wonderful idea.

I think letting them out again would be a terrible idea.

April 12, 2008 4:45 PM  
Blogger HomerTheBrave said...

Take all your overgrown infants away somewhere
And build them a home
A little place of their own
The fletcher memorial
Home for incurable tyrants and kings
And they can appear to themselves every day
On closed circuit TV
To make sure they're still real
It's the only connection they feel

Buzz is right. :-)

Can you imagine the security at such a place? And the irresistible target it would represent?

April 12, 2008 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does this sound a lot like the beginning of a Bond villain's plot to hold the world hostage?

A decadent, famous, and of course dead sexy heiress builds a gorgeous retreat and invites all the heads of democratic states there for a weeklong relaxation week.

Along as part of the British Prime Minister's security detail: JAMES BOND.

He and the heiress feel an instant, magnetic connection and spend a passionate night together, of course.

While in her boudoir, he somehow stumbles upon the heiress' Blackberry© - or depending on the product placement contracts, possibly her iPhone© - and sees that she has ties to a radical organization of some kind!

She has brought the presidents and prime ministers to her desert palace to KILL them! Unless her demands are met!

It's a perfect setup, really. All you studio executives who read BLDGBLOG to get ideas for catastrophe and action blockbusters are free to use it if you like.

April 13, 2008 7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of a short story by Stephen Dedman, "Acquired Tastes", in which a negotiation venue and retreat for the world's leaders is built 50,000 years in the past. Accessed by a time machine, it allows for conflict resolution in an instant of real time.

April 13, 2008 9:20 AM  
Blogger Lily Kerrigan said...

I agree that this sounds like an ill-devised project. It's really horrible looking (from what I can tell from the not-so-swell 3D rendering), like one of those projects that can only perfectly exist in a computer and will fail on a human level.

April 13, 2008 8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"under a dome of glass" in the middle of a desert. You'd better include a first aid center for all the heat prostration cases.

April 13, 2008 9:31 PM  
Blogger mc said...

facinating how the funding for this elaborate project will come from the wealthiest people around the world at various funraising events...... perhaps we should avert our attention to raising funds to fight against food shortage, famine, global warming!!! and maybe then our most powerful leaders can obtain some clarity...

April 14, 2008 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The photo doesn't show the entire structure; what you see above is just the blackjack centre.

April 15, 2008 4:42 AM  
Blogger PT said...

Lake Las Vegas is hardly "desert". It's thoroughly urban, many miles from the kind of undeveloped land illustrated above. I can only imagine that Donna Vassar is being scammed by a land speculator armed with maps and pictures from the 1930s.

April 15, 2008 2:59 PM  
Blogger Toure Zeigler said...

It looks like a tricked out Jetson's designed building

April 15, 2008 7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that dandelion head (spot on!) thingy will be the perfect counterpoint to the faux Italian hillside village they have there already! OTOH, the Vegas valley could use some facilities that are more "intellectual" in nature.

April 17, 2008 1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Won't there be fights over who gets the 'Presidential Suite'? The real problem is attracting 'world leaders'. This is more likely to be another roadside attraction for tourists, else another ruin in the desert.

April 24, 2008 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps rather than inventing new extremes of luxury it would be better to force world leaders to spend a few weeks living anonymously and penniless in the most squalid and horrible slum of their country... that might engender a little more clarity of their purpose and role. And it would cost less.

May 13, 2008 9:07 AM  

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