Reno Firm To Design Plaza At Mapes Site

City of Reno, Nevada
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A Reno firm has been selected to design a $4 million public plaza at the former downtown site of the historic Mapes Hotel.

The city council on Friday unanimously selected SVWB Architects from among three finalists to design the project for the prime riverfront property.

The company has proposed a saucer-like, tilting canopy that would shade an ice rink in the winter and a special events arena in summer.

Its plans also call for historic markers, a fountain, steps leading down to the Truckee River and a pedestrian bridge.

"Our intention was to create a design and a place that would become Reno's new postcard," SVWB architect Angela Bigotti told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Mayor Bob Cashell said he hopes construction can start in the spring. He thinks the project will heal wounds stemming from the January 2000 implosion of the Mapes.

Historic preservationists fought the city's decision to demolish the 12-story art deco structure, and residents grumbled after various plans for the site later fell through.

"This council is very dedicated to healing that sore point," Cashell said. "It's a great day for Reno, Nevada.

"It's going to be the focal point of downtown and the city," he added.

Other finalists were Peter Walker and Partners of Berkeley, Calif., and San Francisco-based Sasaki Associates.

Built in 1947, the Mapes ushered in the modern era of gambling. It was the first building in the nation constructed to house a casino, hotel and live entertainment under one roof.

Entertainers such as Mae West, the Marx Brothers and Sammy Davis Jr. performed in its top-floor Sky Room during its heyday in the '50s and '60s.