Harrah's Uses Ground Zero Architect for Singapore Bid - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which is using the Caesars brand for its Singapore casino proposal, is adding another name to its bid: Daniel Libeskind, master planner of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower at Ground Zero in New York City.

Studio Daniel Libeskind will be the main architect for the proposed casino on Singapore's waterfront, which will include a convention center and hotels, joint venture partners Harrah's and Keppel Land Ltd., Singapore's No. 3 developer by assets, said today in an e-mailed statement.

Harrah's is hiring 58-year-old Libeskind, whose design for the Freedom Tower features curving facades topped by windmills and an off-center spire, to help it compete with rival bids from MGM Mirage and Wynn Resorts. Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Venetian in Las Vegas, last week said its $1.8 billion Singapore proposal would include a Guggenheim-themed museum.

``Having a big name will certainly help but at the end of the day, it will still be their own capabilities that will develop the branding and reputation,'' said Tan Chong Koay, chief executive of Pheim Asset Management, which manages $500 million of investments including Keppel Land shares.

New York Governor George Pataki chose Libeskind's plan for the former World Trade Center site two years ago. The design, ``Memory Foundations,'' featured five office towers with slanted roofs, arranged in a emicircle around the memorial ground, where the original twin towers stood.

`Emotional'

``Libeskind's ability to create extraordinary designs that are true to their reality and also evoke strong emotional and symbolic values is reflected in his distinguished work around the world,'' the joint venture for Harrah's and Keppel Land said in the e-mailed response to questions.

Libeskind couldn't be reached in his office or by mobile phone. His New York-based spokesman, Lloyd Kaplan, said by telephone that Libeskind is ``excited about the project and is looking forward to the opportunity in Singapore.'' He declined to elaborate on Libeskind's plans for the casino project.

The Freedom Tower, a 70-story office tower with an off- center spire meant to evoke the Statue of Liberty, is expected to be the world's tallest building when it's completed by 2009. Other Libeskind projects include the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, the Jewish Museum Berlin and the $100 million Creative Media Center for the City University of Hong Kong.

The Singapore government has said it wants the city's casino to be a landmark development that will lure tourists to the city- state. Singapore competes with tourist destinations such as Hong Kong, which plans to build a Guggenheim art museum in a bid to replicate the success of Bilbao, Spain.

`Iconic Design'

Las Vegas developer Stephen Wynn this month offered to spend as much as $1.5 billion in Singapore on a project featuring an ``iconic'' contemporary design similar to the Wynn Las Vegas casino, which opens next month.

Singapore's government, which received 19 development proposals, will announce whether it will lift a ban on casinos on April 18. The government has said it will ask for a second round of bids before deciding on the winner.

``There's a lot of money on the table coming from the gaming operators,'' said David Cohen, director of Asian economic forecasting at Action Economics in Singapore. ``It's clearly a balancing act for the government in its decision.''

Singapore is offering two waterfront sites for developers: a property next to its financial district, and another at the Sentosa resort island south of the city-state. Harrah's has put in bids for both sites, and hired Libeskind to design the downtown development.

Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts have also submitted proposals for the downtown property.

Harrah's is bidding on the Singapore development to expand beyond the U.S., where it will be one of the two dominant casino operators in the country. Earlier this month, Harrah's and Caesars Entertainment Inc. said stockholders of both companies approved Harrah's acquisition of Caesar's

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