Down To Business – February 2015

Down To Business – February 2015



The DTLV architecture firm BUNNYFiSH Studio was born at the bar counter of the The Beat Coffeehouse in 2011, right at the cusp of the downtown transformation.  Co-owners Craig Palacios and Tina Wichmann soon found themselves upgrading to an 8-foot by 8-foot micro-office in Emergency Arts, the space that houses The Beat Coffeehouse, which was then becoming the heart of the downtown community.  Now the BUNNYFiSH team is settled in a large and bright studio space in one of their own architecture projects, the newly renovated John E. Carson building.

Palacios was born and raised in Las Vegas and has always has called downtown home well before it earned the moniker “DTLV.”  Winchmann, originally from Los Angeles, moved to Las Vegas a decade ago and found herself missing her urban roots. When the two friends decided to leave their former firms and start their own architecture practice, downtown was a natural choice.

“We wanted to be in a place where other people were doing creative things,” said Winchmann. “Our little downtown community back then was full of start-up companies and creative minds.  It was good fit and made coming to work every day exciting. It was like we had a giant firm of creative people, but in reality it was a lot of small firms working out of the same building.  We were just looking for creative stimulus; we had no idea it would be the core of Las Vegas’ renaissance.” The firm has an impressive list of projects in Downtown, including the stylistically impressive Inspire Theater. BUNNYFiSH took an existing space, a former convenience store, and transformed it into the three story multi-use space it is today, growing from a single story into a structure that supports a theater, a café and newsstand, several bars and a rooftop space that overlooks Fremont Street. Winchmann says of the space, “Each space is designed to evoke a unique experience, while allowing the spaces to connect and encourage exploration and collisions.”

BUNNYFiSH draws inspiration not from established aesthetics so much as allowing a project to build its own identity, driven by the client, the community context and from whatever existing space out of which it’s growing. When working with adaptive reuse of existing buildings, BUNNYFiSH architectslet the historical aesthetic drive the style while adding contemporary elements that provide function, contrast, and the element of surprise.

Winchmann says, “While working with Tony [Hsieh] and Downtown Project, we have had the opportunity to not only design great spaces, but include elements of whimsy.  When someone would ask what type of architecture we were doing at the time, we would respond ‘weird stuff downtown.’ That was a huge compliment to our client.  It is a dream for an architect to make things both functional and fun.”

Photo: Courtesy of BUNNYFiSH Studio

  • Dayvid Figler and Rae Lathrop

    DF: Downtown was great as a kid and it is even greater as an adult. I love all of downtown’s hidden gems, its vibrancy, history and sense of connection. Rae is relatively newer to Las Vegas, but just as passionate about downtown. Downtown lends itself to the shared experience, and as a couple we both love seeing this part of the city through each other's eyes. Photo: Lucky Wenzel


  • Rob Ponte

    Some of the best nights I’ve experienced started out with no plan other than walking around to check out what’s going on. The great thing about having so many bars and restaurants downtown is the ability to move around if you’re not feeling the vibe in one place. There are plenty of options just outside the door. Photo: Lucky Wenzel

  • Brandon Wiegand

    The downtown Las Vegas of today has much to attract residents - a burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene, growing diversity of businesses, and major centers of art and culture. Plus, living downtown I am easily within walking or biking distance of it all. Photo: Lucky Wenzel

  • Hank Gordon, Chairman of Laurich Properties

    It is always a pleasure to deal with the city of Las Vegas’ economic development department. The staff is really interested in helping create a positive business environment to work with.

  • Jonathan Jenkins, Founder & CEO of OrderWithMe

    As our company continues its rapid growth, we quickly realized the need to set up a formal U.S. headquarters. We explored multiple cities and were about to make the move to San Francisco, and then we heard about the complete reinvention of downtown Las Vegas. Coming from China where things are booming and growing, we love that downtown Vegas now has a similar vibe of energy and change. Not only is there an exciting tech community here and much lower costs than the Bay Area, but we love the fact that almost every industry group brings their conventions to our front door once a year.

  • Andy Hsieh, Owner of Lux Delux

    We love the vibrancy and energy of Las Vegas, and downtown is at the heart of it all. That's why we've launched our mobile platform with a focus on downtown. This is an exciting time in Las Vegas history, where community, commerce and technology are all converging at once. Downtown is our city's hidden gem.

  • Ramesh Srinivasan, Chief Marketing Officer & Head of Partnerships of SocialWellth

    We chose to relocate from the suburbs to downtown for several reasons. Our brand image and that of downtown’s mesh perfectly. The new downtown Las Vegas reflects a more hip, startup, social media-style image. Additionally, downtown’s emerging technology corridor, anchored by Zappos, is an environment that enhances our ability to recruit the types of technical skill sets required for our continued growth and success.

  • Mark Brandenburg, President of Golden Gate

    I think downtown Las Vegas is a unique blend of intimacy and great energy. Plus, in contrast to The Strip, it’s so easy to walk around…The Golden Gate has been here for over 100 years and with all the changes going on downtown, it feels like a new era. It truly is a renaissance—the rebirth of a classic.

  • Roberto Mendoza, Co-owner of Banger Brewing

    The city has been great in helping us with the licensing and procedures necessary to start a business. There hasn't been a brewery built in the city of Las Vegas for probably 10 years. So for them it hasn't been a typical ‘cut and paste’ thing. We're something different. It was a team work process to get us opened – a lot of talk and listening on both sides. And now the city started opening up the doors for other breweries once we were up and running. Good news for us and good news for the future. (Photo: Lucky Wenzel)

  • Alexandra Epstein, Executive Vice President of El Cortez Casino Hotel

    This downtown area… is emerging and where many events are happening.

  • Meghan Mossler, Owner of Stitch Factory

    The city and the department of economic development have been very helpful to us and all the other downtown business owners. It’s such a community here, and everyone asks you what you need. That kind of help launching a business is amazing and priceless.

  • Pamela Dylag, Co-owner of Velveteen Rabbit

    The city is so supportive of new businesses. Things are popping up constantly. (Photo: Lucky Wenzel)

  • Marc Abelman, CFO & Co-owner of Inside Style

    Downtown is becoming very much in demand…there’s a limited supply. Run fast, don’t walk.

  • Sam Cherry, CEO of Cherry Development

    For a while, downtown was one of the only places in the valley you would see cranes when you drove around. It was nice that city government stepped up and the private sector married with the public sector to create amazing projects that filled the gap. That was very important for us.

  • Johnny Jimenez, Owner of Toy Shack of Las Vegas

    Our business is booming amid the foot traffic on Fremont Street, and we’ve started to see how tourists are falling in love with downtown as they discover it. In the past year, we’re increasingly hearing things like, ‘Wow, next time we’ll stay downtown instead of on The Strip,’ or ‘We’ve visited downtown many times, but this is the first year we’ve actually stayed in a downtown hotel.’ They like that there is more to do within a smaller walking radius.

  • Rich Worthington, President and CEO of The Molasky Group of Companies

    Historically, downtown Las Vegas has not been a top destination for many locals, but in recent years… that trend is reversing itself. Given all the recent openings and progress, there’s much to explore and experience downtown.