i+D - May/June 2018 - 36

Mastering the Game - By Brian J. Barth

Not a Game of Chance
For decades, the casino industry was synonymous with Las Vegas,
Atlantic City, and a smattering of other gambling outposts. Today, casinos
are legal in every Canadian province and in all but nine U.S. states. As a
result, the scope of casino design has greatly expanded. While the Bellagio
is a stunning case study, it had a construction budget of $1.6 billion;
in contrast, the vast majority of casinos are far less extravagant.
"It's easy to believe that Las Vegas defines what a casino is, but that is
the tip of the iceberg," says Gordon MacKay, co-founder of the Torontobased hospitality design firm mackaywong, which has 14 casino projects
under its belt and another 14 in the pipeline. "Most of the casino facilities
in the United States and Canada can't afford to invest the kind of money
they do on The Strip. The marketplace is focused on a few large destination
casinos, but, in reality, most casinos are reliant on local clientele. The
investment is modest."
Beyond the bright lights of Vegas, common themes in casino design
quickly dissolve into site-specific, market-specific realities. What works on
a First Nations reserve in northern Manitoba, Canada, is a far cry from the
secret sauce of a riverboat casino in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There is
no one-size-fits-all approach, but a number of questions commonly arise
in the design process. One hurdle comes up almost immediately: to theme
or not to theme. Or, more to the point: How overt should the theme be?
Overtly themed casinos-think Caesars Palace, which is essentially a
monument to ancient Rome-were a staple of the Bill Friedman era, but
such obviousness is less chic today. "It used to be casinos were designed
on the principle of making it look like a UFO just landed in the middle of a
farmer's field. It was all about being exotic," reveals Mackay. "Then, the
pendulum swung completely in the opposite direction and everything was
dark woods and beige walls." Now, the trend is somewhere in the middle.
Mackay says casino clients today want the design to tell a story, but "in a
subtle and sophisticated manner."
Place-based storytelling is definitely en vogue, he adds. "We're not going
to do a Tiki hut concept in Hanover[, Ontario]; we're going to look at history
and cues around Hanover as a place and start to develop storylines that
resonate in a meaningful way within that context. That being said, we just
did a casino renovation in Winnipeg[, Manitoba], that almost has a subtropical
feel. We didn't go in there and put fake palm trees all over the place. We
took more of a warm climate architectural approach and infused it with cues
that emotionally put you in a place to feel good about being there. That's
meaningful in a place like Winnipeg, where people appreciate a retreat
from winter city mode."

Casinos' Increasingly
Sustainable Strategies
Casinos across the continent are setting positive examples by making
sustainability a priority. From energy efficiency to waste reduction
to cleaner indoor air and more, the future for these gaming palaces
is decidedly green. Following are just a few examples of exemplary
sustainable efforts.
* In 2016, Niagara Casinos earned the Greatest Greenhouse Gas
Reduction Award from the Niagara Sustainability Initiative (NSI)
for reducing its lighting energy consumption and absolute carbon
dioxide equivalent emissions by 736 tonnes between 2014 and 2015.
* In 2015 alone, Wynn Resorts diverted 17,369 metric tons
of waste from the landfill and reduced water consumption
by 30,020,000 gallons over the prior year.
* At Cascades Casino Kamloops, heating and cooling on the gaming
floor is provided via specially designed custom heat recovery
ventilators. The ventilators ensure the stale air leaving the building
preheats the air coming into the gaming area from outdoors;
the system saves both natural gas for heating and electricity
for cooling.

A dynamic light
fixture plays with
the carpet pattern
below at Cascades
Casino Kamloops,
designed by
mackaywong.
(Image: Eric Scott
Photography)

Casino clients today want the
design to tell a story, but "in a subtle
and sophisticated manner."
-GORDON MACKAY, mackaywong

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i+D - May/June 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i+D - May/June 2018

Contents
i+D - May/June 2018 - Cover1
i+D - May/June 2018 - Cover2
i+D - May/June 2018 - 3
i+D - May/June 2018 - 4
i+D - May/June 2018 - 5
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i+D - May/June 2018 - 8
i+D - May/June 2018 - 9
i+D - May/June 2018 - Contents
i+D - May/June 2018 - 11
i+D - May/June 2018 - 12
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i+D - May/June 2018 - Cover3
i+D - May/June 2018 - Cover4
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