CENTRAL STATION WILL BE A CITY IN ITSELF, with living quarters, shopping, entertainment, child care, a hospital, and other amenities for workers and travelers, all within an hour and a half of the three fastest growing metropolises in America. This is a bold proposition, but not without precedent: Schiphol Airport in Holland, while not quite a city, was conceived and sited with the explicit goal of creating the perfect hub, generating an equal amount of revenue from the sale of landing slots and by catering to travelers on layovers. Schiphol contains an enormous shopping mall and an in-house annex of the Rijksmuseum, as well as offering brief excursions to nearby Amsterdam for travelers with more time to kill.

How can we apply the lessons learned from Schiphol to Central Station? We found a useful, local model for spatial organization in the casinos of Las Vegas. If you examine the designs of most casinos, you'll notice that there's no delineation between what is indoors and what is outdoors, and there's very little hierarchy among spaces, whether they're used to house casinos, theaters, hotel rooms, or malls. This sprawling organizational model and total lack of architectural boundaries create an unbroken experience of space, one intensified by the advent of pedestrian bridges linking the Strip's casino-hotels. All of this translates into high profit margins for tenants.

Ever wonder how the Riviera's Céline Dion Gift Shop or Caesars Palace's Snackus Maximus sustain themselves? It's the layout of the casino floor, a vast ocean of moneymaking that easily absorbs other commercial activities, which, because the house always wins, are guaranteed to siphon off a portion of the proceeds.