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December 14, 2018

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Joe Downtown: PBS architecture show to explore story behind Ruvo clinic

Symphony Park Development

Steve Marcus

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is shown in the Symphony Park development in downtown Las Vegas Monday Feb. 27, 2012. The Clinic is operating and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts will open in March but most commercial development in Symphony Park is stalled until about 2015.

Cool Spaces

Host of Launch slideshow »

A PBS film crew packed and unpacked its gear Tuesday morning on East Fremont Street, interviewing a Downtown Project employee in preparation for a new show to air in late spring.

“Cool Spaces!” is hosted by architect Stephen Chung and will focus on the stories behind inspirational architecture around the country. The first show features the Frank Gehry-designed Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

It’s not so much the building as the story behind it, Chung said, that sold PBS on the episode.

“When we do this, it’s to find a provocative space but a good story, and the Gehry story is about how Ruvo lost his father to Alzheimer's and wanted to bring a world-class architect to Las Vegas … if he could attract Gehry, maybe then he gets the Cleveland Clinic. Let’s go after the best architect and then the best clinic.”

Chung said his crew had been fascinated, too, by what’s going on downtown, and seeing the other side of Las Vegas – the locals who work and live here.

“People come here to get away from where they are and want to experience this almost fantasyland,” he said. “The reality is people live and work here and this other side. I think having a hospital that’s not a tourist destination is really a contribution to the city.

“Then you have this Zappos movement coming here to revitalize a decaying urban core with not just programs for tourists, but people who work and live here.”

Before departing, the crew will interview former and current mayors Oscar and Carolyn Goodman to get their feelings about downtown’s redevelopment, which includes the former brownfield in which the Gehry-designed building sits.

Chung and his crew stopped in The Beat coffeehouse, at Sixth and Fremont, mid-afternoon. It was overcast; Chung said he felt like he was somehow transported back to a cafe in his hometown, Boston.

“It’s raining, there are people who live and work here, it doesn’t feel like Vegas,” he said. “Frankly, it feels like Cambridge or Boston, like an urban cafe just outside the city, where they have cool cafes and the creative class lives and works.”

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