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Designing for Dough
June 5, 2006
Architect Paul Steelman can't wait for the detonator charges to go off. In December Steelman's employer, billionaire Phillip Ruffin, will implode the dark and dirty New Frontier casino in Las Vegas to make way for a monster replacement Steelman is designing. Called the Montreux, due to open in early 2009, it's a 2,750-room Swiss-lakefront-themed hotel with a 104,000-square-foot casino, a massive shopping mall, an array of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and a 465-foot-tall observation wheel, similar to the London Eye, that scoops riders from the floor above the casino.

Ruffin bought the New Frontier for $325 million in 1998. Today it's worth perhaps $1 billion, but the 41-acre property makes only $18 million in annual operating cash flow, one of the lousiest performers in town. Steve Wynn's new place across the street made $293 million in the 11 months after it opened in April 2005. With dreams of drawing the free-spending masses his neighbor attracts, Ruffin hired Steelman as his architect in 2004. Steelman is wiser than most when it comes to the logistics of moving gamblers through sin dens.

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Steelman Partners is consistently ranked as one of the top 300 largest architectural firms by Architectural Record Magazine and is on Engineering News-Record's Top 500 Design Firm list.

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