2012 Architecture, Construction and Design Update

Hnedak Bobo Group
Rick Gardner, AIA, Partner

Building loyalty for their clients’ brands has long been a primary design emphasis for Hnedak Bobo Group (HBG). With almost 70 Indian gaming tribes owning and operating casino enterprises with multiple facilities, it is imperative for casino designers to understand the importance of market differentiation, while remaining true to a client’s brand.

HBG is celebrating work with a number of tribes on these project types. “We have several casino projects scheduled to open in mid-to-late 2012, all involving exciting and, honestly, really cool design challenges related to interpreting our clients’ established casino brands into designs that elevate the entire guest experience,” says Rick Gardner, AIA, partner at Hnedak Bobo Group.

“A client’s brand immediately provides a framework for customer connection and expectations, and gives our designers a tangible idea to wrap their creative thinking around,” Gardner adds. “Every new interpretation is an improvement providing more for our client’s customers.”

Who better to inform the process than the marketing insiders, the general manager, operations team and marketing leaders, who know the customers better than anyone? Their engagement provides direct feedback related to customer wants and desires, and impact of design decisions on customers. This input allows HBG designers to enhance the brand through design excellence that invites customers and employees to interact with the brand in new and mutually valuable ways.

After the success of their first brand extension at Four Winds Hartford Casino in Hartford, Mich., the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians chose HBG to design a major expansion and renovation at their Four Winds New Buffalo Casino Resort, in New Buffalo, Mich., scheduled for completion in July.

“It didn’t take long for HBG to understand our culture, traditions and philosophy,” said Matt Wesaw, tribal chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. HBG designers utilized the brand intelligence derived from the Four Winds Hartford Casino to create a culturally inspired contemporary design for new hotel, F&B and event center amenities at New Buffalo.

“We’re elevating the established design, while maintaining certain brand components,” said Nathan Peak, AIA, designer for both Four Winds properties and a senior associate at HBG. “Use of similar exterior and interior materials reinforces the character of the existing property, but there is definitely a surprise waiting when the expansion opens.”

“We designed the two Four Winds properties to look more like cousins, rather than sisters,” Gardner continues, “but it’s obvious they are definitely related.”

A large part of great branding is giving the customer something to identify with and talk about. Nobody does this better than Hard Rock Cafe. Within the New Buffalo Casino Resort, a new 12,000-square-foot Hard Rock Cafe opening in July will give customers a high-energy restaurant and lounge to enjoy on the gaming floor. “Our design involves a unique translation of the established Hard Rock brand for the Midwestern market,” Peak states, “using iconic ‘Hard Rock’ features in interesting new ways.”

“Design of gaming properties is all about interaction and illustrating a story through an appealing mix of design experiences,” Gardner says. At WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., every aspect of their new large-scale facility expansion speaks to the continuity of a brand and design story, within a single facility.

“The existing travel-themed motif at the casino is very closely tied into the WinStar World Casino brand, so HBG naturally embraced and enhanced the concept in the expansion design,” says Rob Jurbergs, designer and principal at HBG. “Inspired by grand terminals and turn-of-the-20th century European architecture, we created a vibrant new customer experience that captures the excitement and wonder of faraway voyages in the gilded age of travel.” The Paris-themed portion of the casino expansion will open in June, with a London-themed casino expansion opening in early 2013.

Brand expansion projects continue for HBG into 2013 with the design of Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, in Buffalo, N.Y., an extension of the Seneca Nation’s popular Niagara Falls and Allegheny, N.Y., casino enterprises.

“A brand creates a promise to customers,” Gardner says. “When we design to a client’s brand, we are promising that when the construction dust clears, the casino experience that loyal customers have come to know and trust will be intact, just an updated, much-improved version of it.”

Main image: Harrah’s Cherokee Casiono & Hotel, Inset: The gaming floor at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel.
Main image: Harrah’s Cherokee Casiono & Hotel, Inset: The gaming floor at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel.
Cuningham Group Architecture Inc.
Tom Hoskens, AIA, LEED® AP Principal

2012 is a year of milestones for Cuningham Group Architecture Inc. (Cuningham Group®), beginning with our growth to more than 225 employees and the opening of a second international office in Beijing. The expansion of the firm is bolstered by the continued success of our “play” group that provides design services to the gaming, resort, hospitality and entertainment markets. Our depth of experience over this range of projects allows us to design complete gaming destination resorts, such as Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel in North Carolina. This year, the $650 million expansion and renovation—an effort five years in the making—will come to a close, highlighted by the completion of the project’s grand rotunda experience. This resort centerpiece will feature 75-foot trees, a 140-foot LED video screen with state-of-the-art A/V capabilities and twin 68-foot waterfalls. It is the crowning jewel, the culmination of the project, the crescendo to a complete Great Smoky Mountains modern lodge experience.

Also east of the Mississippi in 2012, we are proud to complete our first major gaming resort project in Atlantic City, collaborating with Landry’s Inc. to transform and rebrand the Trump Marina Hotel and Casino into the Golden Nugget Resort Casino—a luxurious resort destination in the upscale Marina District. The final phases have wrapped up in time for summer on the Jersey Shore.

Cuningham Group has been working on the Gulf Coast for 20 years, but this year marks one of our busiest years designing Southern gaming destinations. We designed the $62 million Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant in Biloxi, Miss., that opened May 22 and brings a hometown favorite to the Gulf Coast. The property is the first stand-alone Margaritaville Casino and built in the city where Jimmy Buffett played his first professional gig. The tropical-inspired environment includes the brand’s trademark Volcano Bar, fishing and shrimp boats fitted with booths to become coveted places to dine, an airplane hanging from the rafters, TVs mounted in surfboards, and ample palm trees, a waterfall and torches to further carry the theme. Outside are two levels of dining decks off the restaurant and a marina with entertainment, food and drink right along the water, including four Coast Transit Authority buses that were turned into food trucks. Inside the casino, gamers can pick from 820 slots and 18 table games. Overall, we and the owner look forward to the casino helping to bring other investment to its part of the city.

In neighboring Louisiana, we are designing the Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City, which broke ground in early 2012. The $195 million project is located at the end of the Louisiana Boardwalk—the largest outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment development in Louisiana. It will feature a single-level gaming floor, 400-room hotel tower, entertainment center, upscale restaurant, spa and fitness center, pool deck, and meeting space. The project is expected to be completed in 2013.

Other projects for Cuningham Group in 2012 include Oyster Bay Casino in D’Iberville, Miss. A destination with the amenities of a modern resort and charm and character inspired by New Orleans and the French Quarter, the project is also set to open in 2013. And, the firm is designing a new 20-story hotel tower for the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, which is the largest tribal casino nationwide that lacks a hotel. The project will open in spring 2014.

Whatever the project or location, Cuningham Group is committed to an approach that emphasizes the creation of unique design solutions for each and every client, and we call that approach Every Building Tells A Story®. We collaborate with our clients to understand their vision and the story they want to tell. Our designers then extract metaphors from the story to find inspiration for all aspects of a project from basic forms and shapes to materials and colors. Since no two clients or stories are the same, no two buildings are the same. We look forward to bringing our clients and their guests a year full of unique designs and environments not found anywhere else.

Main & inset images: Bordertown Casino
Main & inset images: Bordertown Casino
Thalden Boyd Emery Architects
Cheryl Nervez, Director of Marketing

Project name: Bordertown Casino
Project location: Wyandotte, Okla.
Project description: Bordertown Casino Hotel is located in the rolling, wooded hills of far Northeast Oklahoma.
Exterior highlights: The tower has elements that reflect a tribal motif and defines the hotel tower and casino as an exciting place to stay and play.
Interior highlights: A woodland theme and cedar siding in the main entry evokes a log cabin feel with modern interiors.
Amenities: The Bordertown Casino Hotel includes a 158,460-square-foot casino with 1,500 slots, 14 blackjack tables, six poker tables, one craps, one roulette, off-track betting, three-venue food court with 100 seats, three-meal restaurant with 120 seats plus private dining for 12, bingo, a gift shop and valet service. The hotel has 117 rooms, including guest rooms, four meeting rooms, a fitness room and an outdoor heated pool.
Other features: In the future, the property will have an RV park and a 1,300 square foot office with showers and a maintenance building.
Current construction phase: Phase 1
Total cost: $90 million
Total space: 241,000 square feet
Opening date: October 2012

Key Players
Owner/operator: Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
Architect: Thalden Boyd Emery Architects
Contractor: Red Stone Construction
Designers: Thalden Boyd Emery Architects (Interiors), Studio K1 (Lighting), Eslick Design (Signage)

Project name: Fort McDowell Casino
Project location: Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Project description: New replacement casino with a parking garage
Exterior highlights: An iconic logo element towering in the porte cochere
Amenities: Buffet, quick-serve restaurant, specialty gourmet restaurant, gift shop, state-of-the-art bingo facility, poker room, slot machines, table games
Total cost: $100 million for the new replacement casino
Total space: 200,000 square feet
Opening date: TBD

Key Players
Owner/operator: Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
Architect: Thalden Boyd Emery Architects
Designers: Thalden Boyd Emery Architects (Interiors)

Project name: Soaring Eagle Waterpark & Hotel
Project location: Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Project description: The project consists of an indoor water park of roughly 34,000 square feet, a three-meal restaurant with 140 seats, meeting room for up to 50 people, fitness center, business center, indoor pool with steam room and sauna, and 244 guest rooms and suites. The architectural design of the property is based on a contemporary rustic approach. The glass and natural material-covered patios and trellis structures embrace the outdoors unified by tower elements with windowed cupolas, vaulted canopies and arched dormers. This composition imparts a whimsical character and adds to the sense of fun and adventure. The water park interior continues the natural feel of the exterior, but here, a more tribal character is implied by using stylized timber details with a more organic form. These elements recall the bent limbs used in the traditional dwellings of the Saginaw Chippewa. Birch bark, a key material used in dwellings, canoes and everyday objects, is represented by curved accent panels adorned with the 13 tribal clan symbols. The play structures convey a similar reference to the traditional materials. These structures, combined with natural style rockwork and vegetation, create a distinctive setting for the fun and excitement of the water park.
Total space: 103,000 square feet
Owner/operator: Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan
Architect and designer: Thalden Boyd Emery Architects

Main and inset images: WorthGroup designed the new Apache Nugget Travel Center and Casino.
Main and inset images: WorthGroup designed the new Apache Nugget Travel Center and Casino.
WorthGroup Architects
Erica Ferdani of the Built Marketing Co., Consultant to WorthGroup Architects

Project name: Apache Nugget Travel Center and Casino
Project location: 22 miles west of Cuba, N.M.; on the Northwest side of the intersection between highways 550 and 537
Project description: The new Apache Nugget Travel Center and Casino offers a new gaming and full-service travel plaza with abundant amenities in an area rich with tourism destinations in the Four Corners region of the Southwest. The new facility is owned and operated by Apache Nugget Corp., an economic entity of Jicarilla Apache Nation.

Designed and built by the design-build team of Kennedy Wendel Construction and WorthGroup Architects, the team was tasked to design a property appealing and inviting for local community patrons as well as regional tourism visitors with subtle interpretation of the tribe’s heritage. “When we first started the design process, the tribe asked for subtle theming using the major subjects of the tribe’s culture and history. We have sloped stone and sky-color exterior material reflective of the topography of northern New Mexico, along with geometric forms found within the tribe’s heritage,” said Brian Olesen, WorthGroup Architect’s, project manager.

Apache Nugget Travel Center and Casino features a 150-slot casino, Conoco fuel station, a Subway, convenience store, car wash, RV hook-ups, truckers lounge with showers, laundry and other stop-over amenities, and ample parking for big rigs, RVs and passenger cars located at the intersection of Highway 550 and 537 near the town of Cuba, N.M.

The new 16,000-square-foot Apache Nugget Travel Center and Casino provides the Jicarilla Apache Nation with increased, diversified revenue with an important economic business opportunity.

Current construction phase: Completed April 2012
Total cost: $9.5 million
Total space: 16,000 square feet
Opening date: Grand opening celebration May 5, 2012

Key Players
Owner/operator: Apache Nugget Corp., Jicarilla Apache Nation
Architect: WorthGroup Architects
Designers: Brian J. Fagerstrom, AIA, Project Executive; Brian Olesen, Project Manager; James S. Mickey, AIA, Principal Architect; Amber Boberick and Jamie Thomas, Interior Design

JCJ Architecture
Eileen O’Brien, Western Region Marketing & Business Development Director

JCJ Architecture’s Hospitality & Gaming group has been busy in 2012 and will continue to be well into 2013. We’re currently working on casino renovations and a new hotel at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass (the only casino in Texas). We have just completed the new Running Creek Casino, set within a vineyard near Upper Lake in Northern California, which opened Memorial Day 2012. The Bear River Casino Hotel in Eureka, Calif., and the Downstream Casino Resort expansion in Quapaw, Okla., which includes a new hotel and travel plaza, are two more JCJ projects.

Other projects include: the renovation/expansion at the Santa Ana Star Casino north of Albuquerque, N.M.; commencing design on a new hotel wing and spa (in collaboration with Friedmutter Group) at Twin Arrows Casino in Flagstaff, Ariz.; renovations to the pool deck and fitness area at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego, and a new hotel and renovations to the casino, card room and food and beverage venues at Viejas Casino in Alpine, Calif. JCJ is also engaging in initial planning and design exercises for large-scale, multi-component hospitality and gaming facilities in the Northeast and Midwestern United States and abroad.

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