The Sky's the Limit
Penthouse duplex meets urban loft in Tony Chi's renovation for the MGM Grand
Stephen F. Milioti -- Interior Design, 3/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
The 51 high-roller duplexes at the MGM Grand just got a make-under. To compete with recent improvements at other casino hotels, the suites needed a major update—one that took full advantage of their penthouse location, on the 29th and 30th floors. Tony Chi and Associates responded with an elegantly pared-down scheme that's more Manhattan loft than Vegas pleasure palace. The in-suite elevators, cramped closets, and dated wallpaper have disappeared; most of the walls have been painted cloud white.
To create the sophisticated open plan in the units, which the MGM Grand proudly dubbed Skylofts, the architecture firm's principal and founder Tony Chi says he had to strip everything down to the structural beams and "redefine the space's vocabulary."
Units now range from 1,500 to 7,000 square feet. Each of the one-bedroom duplexes has living and dining areas downstairs, with a bed and bath located on the mezzanine. In the two-bedroom units, Chi added a media room and powder room to the lower level. And in the three-bedrooms, the master suite is downstairs with a foyer, bar, den, and billiard room; two smaller bedrooms and bathrooms occupy the mezzanine.
In every configuration, common areas are citified cool (putty-colored chairs and white walls), while a darker, cocoonlike sexiness pervades the charcoal-gray bedrooms. "Except for sleeping quarters, the envelope is all white, so we went in an earthier direction with furniture and finishes," Chi explains. In each dining area, for example, a floor of Portuguese limestone displays the material's natural striations. And in some suites, marble mosaic tiles cladding a sidewall contribute the occasional shimmer. Chunky side tables in the living area are made of weathered tree-trunk segments. Nearby, softly rounded ivory sofas and mushroom-colored chairs complement the wool carpet's 2-foot squares in olive and cream. Accents in black add drama, including lacquered frames on the living areas' oversize mirrors, as well as the window drapery, 20-foot lengths of cotton revealing a panorama of flashing neons when pulled back at night.
Artwork provides bolder color contrasts. The largest suites' foyers contain friendly tangerine-orange flower prints. And striking bands of black and white encircle Chi's own plaster sculptures, inspired by pre-Columbian figures.
The rich textures throughout the unit are more commonly found in lush residential settings. Chi upholstered chairs in a viscose-cotton fabric and sofas in a cotton-linen blend. In each dining area, gold-colored linen slipcovers on chairs contrast a dark wengé table. The two- and three-bedroom suites even feature desk chairs and ottomans upholstered in glossy eel skin, complementing the wool-covered headboards. "Every suite is like a wealthy person's second home," Chi says. "Or his third."
One thing, however, is hardly like home—unless, of course, you're Donald Trump. All the bathrooms contain 60-square-foot L-shape showers and measure at least 300 square feet. Some even boast floor-to-ceiling windows and a dozen showerheads. Chi included the spalike amenities in deference to hotel-industry wisdom that travelers tend to luxuriate in hotel bathrooms, unlike at home. "The shower is big enough for six people," he says. All in perfect keeping with the MGM Grand's new marketing tag line: Maximum Vegas.