Backlit Onyx Panels Provide Fresh Update to Venetian Oculus Bar

The Oculus Bar at the Venetian Hotel is an icon of Las Vegas. Reflecting the Italian grandeur and charm of the city of Venice, the original design of the Oculus bar boasted Ionic columns, ornate statues, strong spatial divisions, and layers upon layers of color and form. When the design teams of Wilson Associates and Steelman partners were recently commissioned to renovate the Oculus Bar, they engaged in a delicate dance with history.

Oculus Bar at Venetian Before Renovation

(Above: Oculus Bar before renovation)

Oculus Bar at Venetian New Design and Backlit Onyx Panels

(Above: Oculus Bar after renovation)

How to update a historical, iconic bar space while respecting its historical references and bringing it up to date with modern design? Here’s how this project team accomplished the feat:

  • Removing the visual interruption of the perimeter columns creates a more open and inviting atmosphere for bar patrons. By softening the edges and ceiling plane, the bar is able to flow into and relate to the adjacent spaces.
  • Maintaining the octagonal shape of the bar space keeps the most memorable element of this space translated into the renovation. Its distinct geometry and straight lines are carried through all layers of the bar design.
  • The central octagon reaches full height to join strongly with the ceiling, visually strengthening the central anchor of the bar.
  • The eight pedestals at the perimeter of the octagonal bar provide an opportunity to introduce a signature, textured material at the level and scale to have most impact on the patrons.

Backlit Onyx Bar Panels at Venetian Oculus Bar Design Intent Rendering

GPI Design was selected to adorn the bar pedestals with our custom backlit onyx panels. Keeping in the spirit of the overarching spatial design, the onyx panels were envisioned to have a chic white background marked with strong defining veins. And while the project team moved full steam ahead whipping the remainder of the space into shape, these small crown jewels of backlit onyx were guided to fruition by the GPI team.

To transform the custom onyx panels from their raw slab format to the final installed pieces on-site, GPI Design began by scouring the quarries for stone slabs that met the designers’ vision.

White Onyx Stone with Branched Veins

Dimensional White Onyx Slab Before Production

After the building owners put their stamp of approval on the hand-selected slabs, we moved quickly (yet carefully) through the fabrication process so that our backlit onyx could be installed as the remainder of the space completed construction.  The onyx pieces were laminated to glass, cut to size, and laid out in careful bookmatched arrangements.

White Onyx Stone Panels in Bookmatched Layout Dry Fit

The LED backlighting panels and electrical schematics were engineered as the stone was in production, all with the ability to be controlled and adjusted as the onyx and lighting finally converged on-site.

Construction Progress at the Venetian Oculus Bar Renovation

Backlit Onyx Panels on Oculus Bar Front Pedestals

The backlit onyx panels punctuate the eight pedestals with an elegant material statement, creating glowing beacons and intimate spatial dividers for the bar patrons.  With the forms, detailing, and color palette tying together throughout the renovated bar space, the Oculus Bar is transformed while maintaining strong ties to its original Italianate design.

Image credits: VegasChatter, Hi-Con, Inc., Wilson Associates