Friday, May 18, 2012

Meeting Lira Luis in Las Vegas

I haven’t been in Las Vegas – Nevada for the past 4 years, and I wanted to see the new places and buildings in sin city. Another big reason to visit Las Vegas was to meet Lira Luis, a celebrity architect speaker that I admire and I had followed for years with the use of social media.
We (Me, Robert, and Christopher) planned this trip for a few weeks, so we headed to Las Vegas for some distraction, excitement and fun.
In Day one, we arrived in the early afternoon and checked in at the hotel. This hotel has a theme for movies and entertainment in each room. There were no lines and the crew was so nice and helpful at all times. Almost immediately we headed to a restaurant in the famous strip. The desert heat was present at 94 degrees around 7 pm.
Las Vegas strip
After a fun dinner we decided to go across the street to see the new Las Vegas center. It was unbelievable to see how the designers came up with an idea to build a three story floor chandelier bar, the crystals hang from the roof (of the third floor roof) all the way to the first floor, literally; all of this inside a building.
Having a degree in Civil Engineering (for almost 20 years), it amazes me how these designers and builders came up with this concept. I recall in my early Engineering years (yes, many of you weren’t even born yet) how difficult it was to build these funky designed buildings that my early employers want me to build. I remember back in my early 20’s, just fresh out of engineering school, and having been a resident engineer at this apartment complex construction site, how challenging it was to build the entrance for the complex that had a particular design. I was just wondering about all the challenges (it took) to build these amazing structures. I give all my respect to whoever built this structure.
Let’s keep in mind that Las Vegas, a city that was designed to be enjoyed at night, and having said that, its structures and buildings were intended to be enjoyed in the dark, a good lighting system must be in place. So attending the Lightfair International 2012 that was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center would be a great idea.
There is a restaurant bar inside
After a long walk inside this new center I was ready to continue with the fun “Las Vegas style” across the street, so we headed to another place. And after visiting 3 more places and just having a few more hours before my work on the second day started, we headed to the hotel.
Day two: I was worried of not having enough sleep before my working day, but I was energized and ready at 8 am, so I got ready and headed to the Lightfair International 2012 conference.
I was nervous and excited at the same time, not every day do you have the chance to be invited as a Blogger press to cover an important event, but also this was the first time that I will meet Lira Luis and to attend one of her speaking events.
Lira Luis and Enrique Otarola
I’ve been working in the blogging world, networking, and interacting with people using the social media tools for a few years now. Trust me when I say it’s not easy. You have deadlines. You have people to see, places to go, and business to do. In a way you are in people’s radar all the time, so you have to develop a thick skin some times because not everybody likes what you do (or your opinions). You get lovers and haters too.
So meeting Lira Luis was a big deal for me because she is doing the same thing (as me) and much more but in a mega level. Lira travels all over the country. She has architectural licenses in Arizona, Wisconsin, and Asia. She speaks at different events throughout the year all over the globe.
I arrived at the Lightfair event in the morning and picked up my press credentials and immediately headed to the auditorium to cover Lira’s presentation. Me and my 30 pound press equipment went straight to N116 where Lira will be.
When I entered the room, the moment was magical for me; I’ve seen the room full of people, all of them ready for Lira’s presentation. I looked for the best place to see the presentation and I quickly found it. I unloaded all of my press “cargo” (professional camera, video camera, tripod, PC laptop, digital recording, etc.) and then, I was ready. In moments like these, I wondered “Where is my assistant? He is sleeping off the party time from last night.”
Then, there she was, we had a good distance between each other but she managed to recognize me among all of the attendees and then she waved her hand hello to me.
Lira Luis at LFI in Las Vegas
Lira spoke about the concept of “opportunities to define space with light”, which I found so interesting. All the buildings and structures become pleasant to the human eye when they are in display to be enjoyed.

Having an engineering chip deep in my brain, at the beginning I couldn’t quite understand it, so having all of these wonderful pictures in a presentation called Prezi, were so helpful, even to an engineer.
Lira showed pictures of spaces that were enhanced by the natural light at different times of the day, for instance, Lira showed a picture of a shelter (living space) that she lived in while attending her architecture school.
It was amazing for me that Lira was just talking about the same concept that I had in mind just hours ago about a city, places to be admired at night. Although this concept was more organic, the principle was the same.
In a more specific part of the presentation, Lira presented “pockets of opportunities to define space with light”. I liked the picture of a brick wall that was brought to life with the simple fact of having a light entrance in the right place (for the different hours) bringing different effects throughout the day.
Lira Luis presentation
After the hour and a half of presentation, I learned something else about architecture. How important it is to keep the original design of a building. Sometimes the design suffers due to the changes in budget and time of the construction process.
After the presentation was over, I went to the press room to immediately start working on this new material, and while waiting for Lira I had the chance to meet Brandon Smith a designer based in San Diego and a power blogger. We enjoyed a fun chat while having a bite. You can read more about Brandon Smith at
Enrique and Brandon
I’ve also had the chance to meet another press colleague Merwin VideƱa, who was covering this Lightfair international event from San Diego.
Then, after Lira was finally free (she is a busy professional) I kidnapped Lira in our media booth at the Press room, where we talked more in detail about her presentation and I also had the chance to shoot a short interview for everybody to enjoy.

After having the opportunity to meet Lira and learning first hand about her amazing work, I can’t just get enough of this amazing woman, so we planned to have dinner at the hotel, later the same day.

Click here to watch full video interview
The event was full of people from all over the world, interesting vendors and imaginative creations too. You can see more about this event at –


I want to thank Lisa Kay Bokovoy -Manager of LFI Marketing, Lira Luis – Principal of Atelier Lira Luis LLC, and everybody who made this article possible.