Representatives from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City are to seek a variance from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority today to let the city’s newest resort blast with the architectural power of 53-foot-tall electric guitars.
We hope they are allowed. Too bad they’re not 100 feet tall.
The Hard Rock should look like the epitome of new — new casino, new vibe, new hope for a new era in Atlantic City. The less it looks like anything previous here … ie., old … the better.
One thing Hard Rock will never remind anyone of is the former occupant of its vast building on the Boardwalk. Outside of some Hindu temples and Russian Orthodox churches, there is little in America even slightly reminiscent of the style behind the visual riot that was the Taj Mahal.
But because the Taj was so distinctive, so memorable — “blazing like a sun from the wrong side of the Boardwalk,” a reporter described it ahead of its 1990 opening — the building deserves, maybe needs, a striking, signature look for its new identity. Five-story electric guitars at least.
The Taj Mahal was a 1,000-foot-long collection of domes, minarets, tiers, towers, jewel-faceted spires, finials and cupolas, all done in the Mogul style developed in India by descendants of Genghis Khan, according to its architect, Francis X. Dumont.
Dumont was only a couple of years out of the University of Notre Dame when he started work for Resorts International.
The Taj was his first building, and it consumed his life for the eight years from proposal to opening.
Most people associate the brash look of the Taj with Donald Trump, who was its owner when it opened. But it was longtime Resorts Chairman and controlling stockholder James Crosby who thought Dumont’s design would make Atlantic City’s soon-to-be biggest hotel “a wonder of the world” and started its construction.
Dumont amplified the architectural ornamentation by coloring it like buildings he had seen in Russia. “Because they have such a dark winter, like Atlantic City’s, their buildings were often colored turquoise, peach, apricot, jade, sapphire, ruby red, amethyst. We used the same jewel-like colors on the Taj.”
The effect was strongest when new and novel. A reporter said Boardwalk strollers seemed “to lose their balance before it, knocked wobbly by its gusts of glamor.”
That is a high standard, certainly, but we hope the Hard Rock eventually can come close to having that effect on visitors, like a loud chord striking deep in their senses, leaving no doubt that the ultimate casino concert has begun.
Modern axes sized for Paul Bunyan would be a good start.