Remaking a city by rethinking its design

Smart project for downtown Las Vegas


Jennifer Magnolfi is an expert in designing workspaces that maximize effectiveness by increasing interaction among their inhabitants, but she had her hands full when it came to redesigning downtown Las Vegas. “This was the equivalent of the Wild West in programmability,” she told the audience at our Roadmap conference on Tuesday.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh brought Magnolfi on for a stint to help on the Downtown Project, his $350 million attempt to revitalize a largely decrepit downtown Las Vegas by building a community around small businesses, communal areas and technology startups. Her work has largely been centered on building programmable spaces that can users can adapt to their own needs, but usually there are predefined expectations of what needs to happen in those spaces and who the users will be.

Among the co-working spaces, abandoned buildings and second-rate casinos that make up the area where the Downtown Project is focused, Magnolfi…

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