Cascades Pool WinStar

Embark on a New Era of Resort Amenities: Introducing the Cascades Pool Complex

WinStar World Casino & Resort Redefines Luxury and Entertainment with a Transformative Outdoor Oasis

The Cascades pool complex, the newest casino amenity at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma, emerges as an expansive outdoor retreat for relaxation and entertainment.

Spanning over 5 ½ acres, this meticulously designed pool experience encompasses a series of six exquisite pools, varying types of private cabanas, and seven distinct buildings accommodating bars and lounges, food and beverage and guest services, and retail. Every amenity has been thoughtfully positioned to maximize sunlight and water access and lounging, while offering ample shaded space for social interaction.

Site Design Inspiration

Inspired by the mesmerizing forms of ocean currents and naturally shaped archipelagos, the design of the Cascades pool complex is formed by organic, curvilinear shapes that adjoin to provide intimate lounge and cabana spaces in between. The graceful lines and grotto-like edges of the pools create a sense of harmony and serenity, while white cast stone edging and white and gray integral colored concrete surfaces with a textured salt rock finish offer cool and durable surfaces to help ensure guest comfort and enjoyment. Set within lush landscaping and winding pathways, a multi-level site design creates zones of personalization and exclusivity, whereby the ground level pool experience is maintained for families, and mid-tier and upper tier experiences are reserved for ages 21+ and for VIP guests.

"


HBG Dives into the Trend: Pools and Spas at Casino Hotels

See full article in Casino Style Magazine: Everybody into the Pool!

Everybody into the Pool!

More and more, operators are looking to pools and spas to impress their guests. Let’s dive into the trend.

Casino Style 2023 PoolsThe resort pool has reached its utopia, perhaps best demonstrated by the Circa Stadium Swim, at the Circa resort in Downtown Las Vegas.

There, guests don’t simply loll by the pool. They slide into poolside boxes, water couches, daybeds and lower cabanas. They sip drinks, watch the big game and participate in fantasy-football parties. Massive 40-foot high-definition screens reach skyward, while six pools on three levels augment the luxury experience.

Welcome to the crossroads of luxury, decadence and affluence. Does anyone even want to go swimming anymore?

Stadium Swim is just one example of the surge in pool and spa construction at casino hotels. Besides exuding luxury, they make room for shared experiences. Beverages, saunas, salons and hot tubs are valued amenities, keeping guests happily on property.

Just Say ‘Ahh’

“Spas are an increasingly popular antidote for our stressful world,” says Emily Marshall, IIDA, interior design director and principal at HBG Design. “The more harried life becomes, the more guests are seeking a serene and rejuvenating spa experience.”

The modern spa retreat “is less about opulence, and more about wellness and the way a space makes the guest feel—with more authentic, contextual, holistic design features and smart technology integration that produces distinctiveness and differentiation for the resort.”

HBG Design has created pool and vitality pool environments that connect to the spa, to food-and-beverage venues and to other special events, Marshall says. “These pools are activated for entertainment, integrating dining and beverage service opportunities as separate revenue generators.”

Gun Lake Casino Resort Expansion, Wayland, MI

Event-connected pools include the rooftop pool environment at Four Winds South Bend Casino and the Indoor Pool and Events Complex at Gun Lake, now under construction.

“Spas are typically set apart from the gaming amenities as a space for guests to quiet the outside noise and reconnect with themselves,” says Landon Shockey, ASID, HBG’s lead interior designer and spa design specialist. “Successful spa design enchants and indulges all five senses, while emphasizing wellness and presenting experiences that nourish the soul.”

F&B offerings range from café-style light fare and healthy options to seasonal dishes that emphasize the healing benefits of ingredients. Knowing the customer demographic in the specific market often dictates how much of a driver food and beverage becomes in relation to the spa experience.

“We’re also seeing a trend in the design of larger VIP suites that accommodate spa services,” Shockey says. “These suites provide a secluded escape for couples and small groups to partake in extended spa services all within their own private space.”

Healing Springs

The 8,000-square-foot Astral Spa at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort offers a lush, contemporary take on the iconic Hot Springs bathhouse spa, Shockey says, “along with a relaxed nostalgic ambiance that frames each guest’s spa journey through a complete sensory wellness experience.”

Designed by HBG with the Arch Amenity Group and Design for Leisure, the attraction is the first major full-service spa to be designed and built in Arkansas’ famous “Spa City” in more than a century.

Marrying crisp modern lines with historic themes, the spa’s design celebrates the history of Hot Springs and Oaklawn’s thoroughbred horse racing. It features a dedicated 1,925-square-foot women’s spa and a 1,500-square-foot men’s spa, each with distinctly tailored parlors, dressing room areas and aqua-thermal lounges featuring vintage-inspired needle showers that recall historic bathhouses.

Unique hot/cold wellness circuits in the women’s and men’s areas allow guests to “heat, cool, rest, repeat” in vapor rooms, infrared saunas, ice lounges, vitality pools and thermal loungers. “The infrared saunas are the first of their type in the region,” says Shockey.

At the new 317-key hotel, spa and conference and events expansion at Four Winds Casino in South Bend, Indiana, guests are greeted with a “seamlessly beautiful display of contemporary design,” says Paul Bell, AIA, HBG principal and project manager. That look “flows through every space, with a celebration of the Pokagon Tribe’s rich heritage and the natural elements of their native lands,” he adds. “One of the most important cultural elements in this celebration is the red cedar wood that’s prominently featured throughout the property.”

The 10,000-square-foot Cedar Spa, designed by HBG with Blu Spa Consultants, offers a variety of traditional and unique spa therapies in a tranquil, biophilic space designed to fully embrace relaxation, well-being and healing.

Up on the Roof

The soothing experience originates at the spa entrance on the main promenade of the hotel, highlighted by an illuminated ceiling feature appearing as sunlight shining through a canopy of red cedar trees.

Ornate copper ceiling elements allow pockets of light to peek through, creating dancing shadows around the spa entry. Multi-colored lighting introduces serene color palettes into the space.

Floor-to-ceiling screening combines cedar planks mixed with copper blocking and color-changing lighting to create elegant wayfinding from the entry reception and retail area to the treatment corridors.

The unique layout of the spa allows each treatment area to be hidden from the next, granting each guest a private and personalized experience. Guests are guided through the river rock and stacked stone-lined main treatment corridor to reach their desired spa service.

“While some resorts incorporate the pool environment into the spa experience, Four Winds South Bend has made its new rooftop pool deck a central part of their F&B, events and entertainment offerings,” Bell says. The entire third-floor level is dedicated to high-end VIP and hospitality suites that accommodate smaller intimate events, catered parties and VIP receptions.

“Perched on the third-floor VIP and hospitality suite level adjacent to the hotel’s new Edgewater Café bar and restaurant, the pool environment, with its large pool deck, lounge seating and hot tub, becomes an extension of this entertaining space,” says Bell. “The café and the rooftop pool are interconnected through clerestory windows and retractable glass partition walls.”

HBG Design is currently leading the architectural and interior design for the $300 million Phase 5 expansion of Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, Michigan, just south of Grand Rapids.

The Spa Retreat, featuring a spa pool and fitness center, will be located on the lower level of the new hotel expansion, with a palette inspired by nature in the region. The spa pool will offer a relaxing retreat away from the excitement of the casino.

 


Elevating Events at Four Winds South Bend

See full article in Casino Style Magazine: Winds of Change

Winds of Change

Ribbon Town Conference and Events Center - Four Winds South Bend Casino Resort

There’s a new landmark on the South Bend, Indiana skyline, and it’s awe-inspiring—a towering 23-story glass hotel that glows at sunset with a beautiful copper hue. But this impressive structure is more than a marvel of contemporary architecture; it’s a testament to the Pokagon Tribe’s rich heritage and commitment to providing guests with an unforgettable destination experience.

Four Winds South Bend Casino Resort recently cut the ribbon on an incredible 317-key, 82-suite high-end hotel, spa, F&B, rooftop pool and conference/ events amenity expansion adjoining its popular casino. Conference and meetings industry professionals will be especially thrilled by the new 24,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities designed to drive the conference market and soar above the competition.

Ribbon Town is the original Pokagon name for South Bend. This heritage is celebrated in the casino’s new Ribbon Town Conference and Events Center. Guests ascend from the main hotel promenade to the second-floor multi-purpose conference and events space via a dramatic vertical collection of escalators and stairs. Here, guests are treated to a stunning entry experience, complete with a vaulted ceiling and cove lighting wrapped in large copper ring ceiling accents. The theatrical chandelier of suspended metallic shapes is a nod to the region’s Kankakee River and the lily pads that float on its surface.

Designers skillfully blended culturally significant motifs and design elements, such as copper, red cedar wood, birchwood and natural stacked stone to bring guests and visitors closer to the Pokagon Tribe’s heritage and native lands. The event center aesthetic mimics a sunset’s reflection on rippling water, with warm amber, gold, and deep violet hues in lighting fixtures, furnishings, and in the abstracted river pattern of the custom carpet. Stylish wood detailing, neutral accents, and copper accent trim on walls and columns add just the right finishing touches to enhance the venue’s exclusive aesthetic.

The 24,000-square-foot multi-purpose events center features a 10,000-square-foot ballroom with seating for 800, a banquet kitchen and 16 flexible meeting rooms. Expansive windows along the event promenade filter abundant natural light to pre-function spaces with two bars, a lounge seating group, a business center, and an outdoor terrace.

The entire third-floor level is dedicated to elegant VIP and hospitality suites with more intimate venues to host catered parties and VIP receptions. Each suite exudes comfort and approachable luxury, with access to outdoor terraces, some with dedicated whirlpools.

The suites are distinguished in either lighter feminine or darker masculine contemporary design aesthetics and equipped with serving bars, dining room nooks and a Quartzite-wrapped fireplace. Lavish living rooms and bedrooms are accented by furnishings upholstered in velvet and genuine leather, 100 percent wool inset carpeting, coffered and coved ceilings, classic wood paneling and natural stone and wood detailing.

The expansion represents Four Winds’ second phase of growth in South Bend. The design team worked closely with the tribe to help ensure the design flowed cohesively with the Phase 1 casino. A beautiful blend of contemporary architecture and cultural heritage, upscale design and broad mix of entertainment options will offer guests and visitors an exceptional event experience, raising the bar in the region’s conference and meetings industry.

OWNER: Pokagon Tribe

ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN: HBG Design


HBG Thought Leaders Weigh In: Food and Beverage for Casinos

See full article in Casino Style Magazine: HBG Design weighs in on the best addition to your casino - an original food and beverage option or a branded restaurant with a built-in following

Food Fight

Which is the best addition to your casino—an original food-and-beverage offering, or a branded restaurant with a built-in following?

Despite our many differences in appearance, size, beliefs and dietary preferences, we share a common desire to enjoy good food and quality dining experiences.

In the context of casinos, operators want to procure and provide the perfect blend of food and beverage options to complement their properties and brands; contractors and designers want to build them on a grand scale; and of course, patrons want to enjoy the actual results. The process of selecting and refining that blend is daunting, however. Perhaps the first and most common question operators and architects must ask is whether to invest in an original venue or one with an established brand or celebrity association.

The calculus is like evaluating professional athletes before a draft—an original offering may be seen as a risk with a higher upside potential, whereas a branded operation may have a higher floor but less growth potential.

There’s no one correct answer. A successful dining experience is dependent on service and execution, not a particular name or brand, and there is a litany of good and bad examples for each. Operators also differ in their particular preferences.

As commercial and tribal operators expand and renovate their brick-and-mortar holdings, the debate between branded versus original dining options has more voices and considerations than ever.

Bolstered by Big Names

Opening a new restaurant, in a casino or elsewhere, carries a lot of risk, perhaps more than any other type of development. Thus, branded venues most often represent the safer option because of their consistency. An established platform checks a lot of boxes, which is enticing for operators focused on providing swift returns on investment. They also come with their own costs—mainly in the form of licensing fees—but the expansion of numerous franchises and chefs around the country would indicate that those costs are more than feasible.

"In recent years, there has been continued interest in incorporating established F&B brands into the casino resort environment,” says Dike Bacon, principal at HBG Design. The concept of co-branding with high-profile chefs and companies is “gaining more traction with casinos as a means to broader market appeal and greater name recognition from an expanding customer base.

“For a while it seemed like expensive branding fees were deterring the introduction of new branded venues into the casino resort,” Bacon continues. “But integrated branding appears to have made a comeback on an even grander scale and commitment.”

One example of a brand that’s made extensive inroads in the casino space is Rock & Brews (R&B), a brew-pub chain backed by Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and KISS frontmen Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. According to R&B CEO Adam Goldberg, the company, formed in 2010, already boasts a total of 23 locations throughout the U.S., partly thanks to the popularity of the associated artists.

“Having the celebrity stamp of approval means our brand is proven and successful,” Goldberg notes. “With our extensive years in the hospitality industry, we are operators first. Casinos can benefit from our operational expertise, from menus to playlists to art packages and built-in marketing opportunities with other rock stars.”

Alexandra Milkovich, senior interior designer for HBG who helped design the R&B Casino and Restaurant in Braman, Oklahoma, echoes this point. “Having a celebrity name attached to a property is, of course, a great marketing tool for a casino owner,” she says, adding that celebrities and franchises “have a large following of people who want to be part of the next big ‘thing’ in the industry.”

Location, Location

Of all the factors that influence the F&B decision-making process, two are perhaps most important: the location of the venue within the casino and the size of the casino itself. Often, these details will help the process shake out—or, as R2A’s Ruiz puts it, “you can start to peel the layers off the onion.”

“It really varies,” he says. “And what I mean by that is the size of the property—does it have three to five outlets, or does the property have 15 to 20 or 25 or more food-and-beverage outlets? How large is the property? That’s where these things start.”

Renovations and expansions of existing spaces are more common than brand-new builds, which means that casinos often have a predetermined space in which to fit a venue, and there are do’s and don’ts that correspond to that scenario.

As Cuningham’s Houck says, “One of the bigger questions is, what do you want to fill if it’s a large casino? It’s kind of like 101—you don’t put a Mexican place next to another Mexican place. So there is a sense of looking at what’s needed.”

Additionally, changes in patron preferences can make certain concepts outdated, and renovating can allow operators to “remain responsive to changing market conditions and new branding opportunities and to refresh a property’s offerings,” says HBG’s Milkovich.

Casinos big and small are like mini-ecosystems, constantly trying to find the best flow, the best integration of amenities and gaming. As such, companies will vary in their brands and tastes (no pun intended), and architects and designers will work to keep pace with those changes.

“Different clients and different properties have different techniques or theories behind it,” SOSH’s Sochocky explains. “Some clients we work with actually like their top restaurant all the way at the back of a casino, so they can draw people through the casino floor to get to it. Some of our clients like it at the front door… Their gaming floor also has a lot to do with it. It does become a little bit of a game of real estate.”

Regardless of the type of venue, it’s clear that the true beneficiaries are the patrons, the ones who get to fully enjoy the experiences that operators, designers and architects work so hard to create. A truly successful venue is one that can satisfy its target audience, again and again and again.


Unveiling the Cultural Richness of the new Eagle Mountain Casino

AN ENTERTAINMENT ESCAPE:
The new Eagle Mountain Casino connects People to Place.

HBG Design, the architecture and interior design firm behind Eagle Mountain Casino’s new development in Porterville, California, has unveiled a project that offers a fresh interpretation of the culture and heritage of the Tule River Tribe.

Welcome to Eagle Mountain Casino, where Tule River Tribe's culture and heritage are beautifully integrated.

HBG's design concept pays tribute to the tribe, capturing their customs and traditions throughout the casino. Inspired by the scenic Tulare County and Central California, the design reflects a meticulous crafting of boldness, captivating details, and engaging elements.

A variety of tribal basket patterning and motifs highlight ceiling and floor planes and light fixtures, drawing guests through wayfinding paths, to the 1750 machine casino, the Ember Center Bar, The River Steakhouse, The Acorn Diner, The Cedar Food Court, Yokuts Coffee House, and the Redwood Taphouse, and a new 2,000-seat event center. HBG designers merged concepts and elements to create an enticing design environment and approachable luxury for customers.

Click to Read More About the Project

Vertical features symbolize the grandeur of the Giant Sequoia and the majesty of the Golden Eagle, both culturally significant to the tribe. Flowing forms and organic curves echo the Tule River's path, immersing guests in a dynamic environment that harmonizes with nature.

The continuous theme of The Flight of the Butterfly and Quail Tufts unifies the design, flowing from the entry to the gaming area and center bar. The new Eagle Mountain Casino weaves together a vibrant tapestry of cultural elements, taking guests on a visual journey into the heart and spirit of Tule River Tribal heritage.

Click here to watch a personal video tour through the Eagle Mountain Casino by General Manager Matthew Mingrone.


Premiere Hospitality Features Astral Spa

See full article

The stunning new 8,000 square foot Astral Spa at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers a unique luxury experience in a location celebrated as ‘The Spa City–America’s First Resort’ in the early decades of the 1900s.

The secluded town of Hot Springs was a favourite getaway destination for the rich and infamous, becoming the birthplace of spa resorts in the U.S.

Designed by nationally recognised U.S. hospitality design firm, HBG Design, and leading spa consultant, WTS International Inc., the Astral Spa is the first major full-service spa to be built in the ‘Spa City’ in over a century. The hydrothermal consultant for the project was Design for Leisure Ltd of London.

Landon Shockey IIDA, NCIDQ, Lead Interior Designer at HBG Design said: “We have worked on numerous projects with Oaklawn over the years. This spa was a part of a major expansion project for them and was an entirely new construction.

“Hot Springs is well known in the States as an historic spa destination. The high street is lined by the historic Bathhouse Row. Our goal was to design a modern interpretation of these beloved spaces.”

Louis Cella, President, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, whose family has owned and operated Oaklawn for over 100 years commented: “Our vision for the Astral Spa was to create a unique experience that regional guests have never seen before.

“With multiple amenities, taking advantage of Hot Springs’ great history of entertainment, gambling and relaxation, the Astral Spa offers a throwback vibe with modern luxury, which includes a cold room, steam room and infrared sauna, dipping pools and needle showers.”

Co-ed Lounge

Marrying crisp modern lines with historical overtures, the Astral Spa’s design celebrates the history of Hot Springs and Oaklawn’s thoroughbred horse racing in an era when ladies and gentlemen donned their best bespoke styles to see and be seen.

The interior design is complemented by the 21st century bathhouse-inspired program and spa services menu developed by leading spa consultants and operators, WTS.

Highlights of the Astral Spa experience include an illuminated wall of quartz crystal – an important healing element – in the reception area, referencing the crystal mining popular in this area of Arkansas

The venue also includes a 1,925 square foot women’s spa and 1,500 square foot men’s spa, each with distinctly tailored parlours, dressing room areas, plunge pool and aqua thermal lounges featuring vintage inspired needle showers reminiscent of the historical bathhouses.

Women's Wet Lounge

The heated ceramic Loungers near the Plunge Pool are manufactured by Sommerhuber. Based in Steyr, Austria, Sommerhuber have been manufacturing ceramics for fireplaces since 1419 and today, their unique ceramics – namely Heat Storing Ceramics – are used in leading spas and thermal experiences across the globe.  Fiona Sommerhuber, Head of the Spa Division at Sommerhuber said: “Heated loungers are ideally suited for ultimate relaxation due to their ergonomic shape and cosy warm ceramic surface.”

Unique hot/cold wellness circuits in the women’s and men’s aqua thermal areas, allow guests to ‘heat, cool, rest, repeat’ in vapour rooms, infrared saunas, ice lounges, vitality pools and thermal loungers – in addition to enjoying an array of spa services, including couple’s massages, hydro-facials and hot stone treatments.

Women's Lounge

As well as a 750 square foot full-service salon, multiple private treatment areas, and a co-ed lounge with upholstered chaise lounges, there’s also the area’s only Himalayan salt wall – plus an exclusive outdoor spa pool with cabanas and outdoor event lawn.

Speaking of the challenges of the project, Landon Shockey said: “Construction was well under way at the beginning of the pandemic. We had to manage a lot of unknowns while construction continued during the lockdowns.  From products being discontinued to goods stuck out at sea for months, this was a project for the history books!”

He concluded: “Leading the design of The Astral Spa has been a career highlight, having grown up in a small town about twenty minutes from Oaklawn. “I remember touring historic Bathhouse Row when I was younger and being absolutely intrigued by those grand spa spaces. To be able to return to Hot Springs and work with Louis and Rochelle Cella to create a modern day ‘bathhouse’ spa was a dream come true.”

“What is even more special is the Astral Spa at Oaklawn receiving a Fay Jones Alumni Design Award from my alma mater, the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.”


Caption Awarded 'Best in Hospitality' by IIDA TN

HBG Design is excited to share that Caption by Hyatt Beale Street was awarded 'Best in Hospitality' in the 2022 IIDA TN Design Awards. The list of winners were selected by members of the IIDA Tennessee Chapter design community.

https://vimeo.com/754241454

 


HBG Designer Named an Emerging Leader of Gaming

HBG San Diego Interior Design Leader Alexandra Milkovich has been named a ‘40 Under 40’ Emerging Leader of Gaming. The ELG 40 Under 40 is presented by Global Gaming Business and The Innovation Group, and supported by IAGA and Regulatory Management Counselors.

Creativity through Collaboration

Alexandra Milkovich, Senior Interior Designer, HBG Design

With a master’s in interior architecture and product design, 13 years of diverse interior design experience, and an impressive portfolio of high-profile projects, Alexandra Milkovich has achieved incredible success in her tenure as the senior interior designer at the San Diego office of HBG Design. Her natural leadership abilities, creativity and inquisitiveness have put her on a straight trajectory towards excellence.

Throughout her career, Milkovich has led designs of casino, hotel, and food & beverage venue experiences for gaming and entertainment clientele on the West Coast and nationwide. She was instrumental in creating the initial design concepts for the first-ever Rock and Brews Casino in Oklahoma and led the design of Sycuan’s vintage-industrial inspired Rank + File restaurant and bar during the $220 million expansion and renovation of Sycuan Casino Resort outside San Diego.

Now the lead designer of several casinos, hotel, and food and beverage experiences for HBG Design clients across the country, Milkovich is thankful for the wealth of experience her work has provided her.

“Every project has its own challenges and opportunities,” she says, “and being in the middle of those experiences has directly contributed to my knowledge and growth in the industry.”

With her passion for “creating successful pathways to final interior design solutions,” Milkovich believes that truly thoughtful and impactful interior design is founded on comprehensive research and a strong understanding of the client’s brand, market, and project goals. Having extensively studied restaurant operations and designs, Milkovich describes her approach as promoting “bold design balanced with thoughtful moments where the eye can rest.” She has also pursued her passion for the culinary arts through food blogging that highlights unique dining venue designs and beautiful plating designs.

“Entertainment and hospitality design is an ever-evolving industry,” Milkovich explains. “We are always learning new things no matter how much experience we have under our belts.”

Collaboration and mentorship are also crucial to success in Milkovich’s view, and both have been a large part of her career in the past and moving forward. She lauds her own mentor, previous ELG 40 Under 40 honoree Emily Marshall, as “a hospitality and entertainment design guru who tends to have the answer for everything.” She credits Marshall as a tremendous advocate for her career aspirations with a talent for creative problem-solving and a wealth of design experience.

Now Milkovich herself has become sponsor to her entire interior design team at HBG’s San Diego office, meeting with each team member one-on-one quarterly to help discuss ways to creatively achieve their career goals. She believes these individual meetings are essential to building strong relationships and achieving both individual and company goals.

“I truly love to see people succeed, and I try my best to help them meet their goals in whatever way I can,” she says. “Everyone has good ideas, no matter their level or years with the firm, and we want to give each team member a voice. When people truly feel good about a design or career direction, they make a greater effort to succeed.”

To the up-and-comers in her industry, Milkovich offers this advice: be patient, and really take the time to listen to your colleagues and take advantage of their expertise. “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable,” she advises. “You will never move up in a career without pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.” —Rae Berkley is an analyst with The Innovation Group

Alexandra, along with other honorees, were celebrated at G2E 2022 and are profiled in the October issue of Global Gaming Business magazine.

 


HBG Designer Honored by Boutique Design Magazine

Boutique Design  magazine has announced the 2022 class of the Boutique 18—the rising design stars who are creating some of today’s most thoughtfully designed hospitality venues. The 17th annual group of honorees were chosen based on criteria by the Boutique Design editorial team and were nominated by their industry peers. Congrats to this year’s B18!

Recently named HBG Design Associate, Christopher Wood, IIDA, NCIDQ, was recognized in the 17th annual group of BD18 honorees. 

READ CHRIS' FEATURE ARTICLE IN BOUTIQUE DESIGN MAGAZINE HERE

 

2022 Boutique 18 Interview Questions for Boutique Design Magazine

Christopher Wood, IIDA, NCIDQ
Interior Designer
HBG Design, Memphis Office

  • If I weren’t a designer, I’d be…
    • I would be a librarian. I love reading; and have always had a fascination with libraries and with the peacefulness I feel in libraries. I especially love those grand old libraries with soaring architecture.
  • Top presentation tip?
    • Try and insert a bit of your personality into your presentation style. I’ve found it helps make those connections between you and the client stronger as they get to know you, and it creates more open, easier, free flowing project communication.
  • What’s on your boards?
    • My boards are composed with a mix of jewel tones that allow for materials like wood and metals to pop. Unique design details are applied to every aspect of the project, from the largest elements down to the smallest, typically unnoticed, spaces. Stunning lighting—the jewelry in each space--is the most fun to select. Unique patterns in wallcovering, fabrics, and tile can become the art in a space, and can be layered into a design in so many ways.
  • Trend you’re loving?
    • I am loving the more frequent use of bold patterns in spaces. I feel a shift in design now where striking graphics are being infused into areas through all kinds of mediums, fabrics, wallcoverings, even wall décor. The boldness is stimulating to the senses; and I find it invigorating.
  • I can’t live without…
    • There are a few things, of course, but, day-to-day, coffee is what makes the world go round and allows me to function like a normal human being. Design-wise, I would say shiny or glitzy things. And my penchant for incorporating sparkling elements into all my designs tends to work well in entertainment resort design.
  • Most memorable project
    • Desert Diamond West Valley Casino outside of Phoenix, Arizona. The complete design was derived from the inspirational concept of ‘The Dynamic Earth’, our team’s unique interpretation of the desert’s abundance. Inside the casino, we translated the desert sky into a concept called ‘The Endless Sky’, which brought the casino floor to life with integrated lighting in the fin-like ceiling elements. It was incredible to see the whole concept come together. Every venue design was tied back into the vivid desert landscape idea. This well-thought-out concept created a tremendously original and immersive customer journey.
  • What gets you excited about your job?
    • The opportunity to tell a story through design. Concepting is so important and merging our concept with a client’s vision leads to a unique design that always tells a story. And I love being able to witness the excitement of those involved when their concept, many times based on personal storytelling, comes to life.
  • Dream project?
    • My dream project would be a casino designed in an Art Deco/Great Gatsby style. Talk about a cool experiential design opportunity! If it was done tastefully, not stale or old fashioned, imagine what fun that could be! The intricacy of detailing and lighting, and the ways that scheme could be translated through each food and beverage venue; it would be amazing!
  • Favorite design tip or trick?
    • My favorite design tip would be to love all your design options. Clients always want to see options, and as designers, we may always have our favorite scheme that we wish the client would gravitate to. I always make sure I like everything I’m presenting. This eliminates fear that the client will select an option that we really wish they would not have chosen.
  • Any career advice for up-and-coming designers?
    • Don’t be afraid to take chances with your designs. As you start designing project spaces, throw ideas out there into the universe. Not all of them will stick and some may be outright rejected, but there is always one or two that may find a toehold and become the concept that an entire space is built around. Who knows, the client could also accept exactly what you’re proposing and take you by surprise!

To see the full list of honorees, visit Boutique Design.

 


Behind the Design: Eagle Mountain Casino

Article by Eagle Mountain Casino

Counting down the days to Fall: HBG provides exclusive details about the design of new Eagle Mountain Casino

(Eagle Mountain Casino, Porterville, CA 93257) –  In the Fall of 2019, HBG Design was selected as designer and architect for Eagle Mountain Casino’s highly anticipated casino relocation project. The nationally-recognized Top 10 hospitality and entertainment design firm, which has offices in Memphis, San Diego, and Dallas, started design of the project in 2020 and continued design right through the pandemic. Virtual meetings continued with the Tule River Tribe and the design advanced through all the obstacles faced from Covid-19.

“One thing that we learned during our process is that, for us, this project started fairly recently. For the Tule River Tribe, however, this project’s vision began in the 1990’s. It’s like a 25-plus-year process of acquiring the land and envisioning a property in the Valley, closer to Porterville in the population base, so it’s remarkable the perseverance that the Tribe has shown to get the project realized,” said Joe Baruffaldi, AIA, Principal, HBG Design.

The Tribe met with HBG Design and shared elements of the rich tribal history, including archival images of beautiful baskets, the process of basket making along the Tule River, legends of tribal origin, and focused on the details of the higher elevations of the tribal homeland.

As we started to get more and more involved and inspired by those Tribal themes, we began to wonder how we could integrate some of that history and some of that cultural richness of the giant sequoia tree, the mountainous region, the tales of the ‘hairy man’ as they call it, and the basket patterns themselves, which each hold very particular meaning. So as we started to learn about these things, it layered on to us a desire to create a property that spoke very closely to those themes,” said Rob Jurbergs, AIA, Principal, HBG Design.

HBG designed the new casino property with the vision of a lodge and a more mountainous style of architecture with a home in the Valley. A DESIGN THAT SERVES COMMUNITY AND CULTURE

“For the Tule River Tribe, it was really important to tell their story. We researched their culture; they provided books to us, and photos of artifacts. They were really open about sharing their culture, which allowed us to find patterns within baskets to incorporate into our design that would give this property a uniqueness in the market when you look at some of the other competitive casinos, because it tells their story. It would also be very meaningful to the tribal members for us to incorporate basket patterns that, on the one hand, are cool casino elements and, on the other hand, recognizable to anyone with knowledge of the Tribal culture,” said Baruffaldi.

HBG Design was also trying to meet the market from a business perspective. One example of this is the inclusion of a Sports bar called ‘The Redwood Taphouse’ in the new casino property. The city of Porterville does not have a variety of options to view televised sporting events, and it is anticipated that this will be a hot spot for all sports lovers. “Talking with Matthew Mingrone, the General Manager of Eagle Mountain Casino, he wanted to have a place in Porterville to go watch the game, so you start to have these business drivers that merge with these creative storytelling drivers to create an overall unique business driven property,” continued Baruffaldi.  DEVELOPMENT OF CONCEPTUAL THEMES

The Tule River Tribal Council as a whole were essential in helping HBG Design learn about tribal culture and embraced the idea of using the new relocation property as a platform for sharing their culture, while meeting the needs of the community. HBG Design created specific conceptual themes after speaking to tribal community groups and Tribal leadership to showcase and present some of the more significant meanings related to the Tribe.

“The design storytelling within the property as a whole involved the development of an overall concept that ties all of the different spaces together, as a platform to create an individual identity for each restaurant or venue within the property,” said Baruffaldi.

HBG Design took multiple aspects of the design inspiration depicting the story of the Tule River through the Tribe’s native traditions, art, patterns and imagery. “During our early visioning workshops, we focused in on the words ‘Grounded’ and ‘Soaring’. "Grounded” and “soaring” are more conceptual terms as it relates to the concept of the Giant Sequoia tree which is so large it can only be experienced truly by either the rooted connection to the earth, the trunk, and the soaring nature of the canopy because it is so tall and dwarfs everything else in the forest.  With a better understanding of the tribe’s ancestral homeland and hearing the stories from tribal members related to both the Tribe’s past and the desire to create a project to represent a strong future to the Tule River tribe, we started to connect the theme from “Grounded” and “Soaring.” “Grounded” is about honoring the past, the heritage, the traditions, the elders, and all of the history of the tribal foundation. “Soaring” represents looking forward and creating opportunities for the Tribe with the new casino,” said Jurbergs.

The giant sequoia concept was visualized in three parts: the roots, the trunk, and the canopy. Designers identified words and images that depict the nature and character of each part of the tree. An element that the Tule River Tribal Council started to understand and embrace was the storytelling behind the design and how HBG tied each of the giant sequoia aspects into different parts of the building.  Additionally, the Tule River became a key design inspiration. The river is very dynamic, and as it travels from higher elevations, it creates majestic pools of water and waterfalls. STRONG LODGE-STYLE ARCHITECTURAL EXPRESSIONDesigners were influenced by a lodge aesthetic with wood and other stone structural expressions and wanted the design to be grounded in the land. Creating strong architectural elements of wood and stone became the forefront.

The porte-cochère will incorporate an eagle pattern design for the pendant lights, and the lodge-like lines and truss work with wood textures both in the main structural elements and in the ceiling itself, creating a lot of warmth and richness, making it very inviting for guests. ENTRANCE AND CASINO FLOORAs you drive up to the new relocation property and the porte-cochère, you will first notice water and a series of small pools reminiscent of the Tule River itself. It will be a part of the entry experience and will engage guests from the moment they arrive on the property. Water elements will wind in a serpentine fashion up to the front door and feature Native grasses and plant species native to the mountain that the Tribe felt necessary to incorporate into the property.

“Flowing forms recall the winding Tule River and organic curves of nature. When we were laying out the casino floor, we were thinking about how guests move through the project; we wanted to convey that flowing nature,” said Jurbergs.

There are so many incredible elements to be discovered as guests explore the new property. As you enter the property into the entry concourse, which ultimately will lead to a future hotel, it features a sculpture carving by a Tule River tribal member of a culturally significant figure, “the hairy man” or more commonly “big foot”. Guests looking up at the ceiling will notice the unique geometry of a basket pattern with individual triangles that are super scaled to cover the whole casino ceiling. In addition, the use of four tribal basket patterns is featured on the concourse floor, and the light fixtures also feature basketry patterns. The column work is inspired by the giant sequoia trees’ bark and creates a contemporary element. The corridor will also showcase museum-like statements of actual works of art, bringing a rich historical feel to the entire property.  The countdown to Fall continues, and the excitement is building as the construction of the relocation nears completion. Soon the guests of The People’s Casino will be able to experience all of the fantastic designs and countless years of hard work put into this one-of-a-kind property.  Currently, Eagle Mountain Casino is located 17 miles east of Porterville and is a full-service casino owned and operated by the Tule River Tribe. Guests must be 18 years of age to enter. The casino is open 24/7. In addition, the Grizzly Food court is open 24/7, and the River Steakhouse is open Friday – Sunday from 5pm – 10pm. Eagle Mountain Casino is a short drive from Bakersfield or Visalia.  The new casino property is scheduled to open in late Fall of 2022, off Highway 65 in Porterville, CA, next to the Porterville Fair Grounds. The new property will double in size, growing to over 100,000 square feet, featuring new dining options, 1750 slot machines, 20 table games, and a 2000 seat state-of-the-art event center.