While the indoor landscape is still a semi-raw tangle of pipes and cinder blocks, Rockwell is already channeling the anticipated tourist hordes, imagining how they'll experience this new kind of playground on the Strip. "Look at that cloud trail," he says, pointing up through the open-air roof, his overgrown salty-black hair spilling out of his hard hat. "That's the kind of live, organic, changeable contrast against all this hardware that we're trying to create." Then he adds, as if directing the scene, "A plane flying across would be even better."
Rockwell's inner choreographer can't help itself. The son of a vaudeville dancer who grew up doing community theater ("It was very Waiting for Guffman," he says of his early childhood), Rockwell has built his nearly 30-year career on the premise that designing interior spaces is about far more than sconces versus recessed LEDs, or damask versus moiré wallpaper; it too is a form of theater. "It's ultimately a complex mechanism about connecting an audience and a performer," says the Broadway junkie who carved out a name in New York by designing the first Nobu restaurant and the first W Hotel. "It's all storytelling."