“Let’s shift from microscope to macroscope. Holistic approaches and interdisciplinarity lay the new strategic thinking models requested to benefit from digital complexity and interconnectedness.”

—Stéphane Nappo

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An atlas is a collection of maps traditionally bound in book form. Yet, since the 16th century when the word was first used in a geographical context, atlases have evolved to be vast multimedia compendiums that feature not only geographic information, but geopolitical, social and economic statistics. In fact, their early attempts to comprehensively record space in relationship to other places could be considered a rudimentary technology that preceded satellite-based radio-navigation so predominantly used today. Therefore, an atlas is simultaneously a technology and a publication that indexes civilization. Also quite literally at Las Vegas (airport code: LAS), atLAS operates as a semi-demonym/acronym portmanteau—signaling both matter (Las Vegas) and medium (digital technologies) inspired by the zeitgeist-defining “at” symbol (@) of the contemporary digital era.

Given this context, at-LAS is a new transdisciplinary laboratory at the UNLV School of Architecture that is situated at the intersection of computational methods (such as critical mapping, parametric design, digital fabrication, situated technologies, and augmented/virtual reality), and interdisciplinary means (such as art, architecture, landscape architecture, ecology, urbanism, and engineering). Using these means and methods, at-LAS aims to fundamentally transform how the built environment is designed, made, and experienced through design-research enhanced with digital technologies. Our design-research projects usually take the form of applied R+D with industry and community partners to address problems and affect change in the context of the Mojave Desert and the greater American Southwest. Catalyzing new knowledge dynamics through select publications, workshops, and symposia, at-LAS also seeks to share innovation-generating best practices with peers, partners and patrons at various scales.