MBJ SWOT: HBG Design's innovation could pay dividends for its clients after COVID is over

See full article in Memphis Business Journal

by: Susan Ellis

Local economies are no different from organizations when it comes to taking stock of their ability to grow, innovate and thrive in lockstep with the times. Much depends on talent within: the employees of companies and nonprofits, the entrepreneurs who define a business community. But a lot also rides on the unique mix of ingredients that both define the local economy in question and play an outsize role in its success in navigating change or crisis. The SWOT analysis is nothing new for anyone familiar with business-school dogma, though its application to our small business community — as it rebounds from a pandemic — is probably a first.  What follows is a breakdown of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats working for or against the region’s small-business owners as they climb back from one of the most economically and socially disruptive events in modern times.

MBJ SWOT: Weakness: Solutions when ‘all in’ might mean betting your life

One point the pandemic proved over and over again: The human body and economy are both highly susceptible to dramatic external forces like contagions, and the health and well-being of the first is inextricably linked to the ultimate success of the latter. When COVID started, Memphis-based HBG Design hit the drawing board to create solutions for its clients in the hospitality industry, whose revenue depended on the safety and confidence of customers. Their resulting innovation, Safebet, could continue to pay dividends long after COVID is gone.

HBG Design

Rick Gardner of the architecture/design firm HBG Design considers himself a “creative problem solver.”

So, when the pandemic hit, he assigned his team to answer two questions: How will this pandemic affect business? And, how will it affect the way they approach design?

HBG specializes in work in the hospitality sector. Past projects include the Guest House at Graceland in Memphis and the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino in Arizona.

“We zeroed in on specific solutions,” he said. “We asked ourselves a very specific question that became the mission statement for Safebet: How do we make sitting on a stool in front of the slot machine the safest place on the gaming floor?”

Since games on the casino floor are often rearranged, the Safebet system is designed to work on all sorts of configurations — rows, carousel, and trios.

“The reason we zeroed in on [slot machines] as opposed to other places in the casinos is the slot revenue is the engine that drives resorts,” Gardner said.

In designing Safebet, HBG also considered user experience.

“Most people are uncomfortable with the way things were before the pandemic, sitting down next to a stranger in close proximity,” he said.

He noted that the walls can be removed for guests who want to play together on the machines.

HBG hooked up with manufacturing firm KGM Gaming to make the components of Safebet. That firm will also do the sales and marketing, while HBG will focus on R&D.

Gardner said there may be other applications for Safebet as well.

“We’ve focused first on the gaming side of things, but we’re looking at dining rooms for restaurants,” he said.

Gardner said that while many restaurants already use plexiglass, he envisions bringing that to a more “sophisticated” level. He pictures Safebet in convention centers and resorts. The average slot machine costs $20,000, Gardner said, with large casinos having roughly 1,500, for a total expenditure of $30 million. Something like Safebet could be a smart investment — not just for now but for the future.

“We’ve had all kinds of viruses and pandemics in the past 20 years — SARS, MERS, and all that stuff. And they came and went,” Gardner said. “But, [COVID-19] has affected us much differently. It’s been imprinted in our psyche. We’re not going to forget it. What we all know now is that there’s going to be something next.”


HERE WE GROW AGAIN! HBG Design Opens Dallas Office

It is with much excitement that we announce the opening of HBG Design’s third office location in Dallas, Texas, joining our Memphis, Tennessee-based headquarters and our west coast office in San Diego, California.

The nucleus of our new Dallas location represents a select team of key former Wilson Associates architects and interior designers. This dynamic collective will be led Lela Richardson, NCIDQ who has joined the firm as Principal and Dallas Office Leader. Complementing the Dallas leadership is D. James Carry, AIA, NCARB who joins HBG Design as Consulting Principal.  Together, the former Wilson Associates Dallas team has more than 80+ years of combined five-star hospitality design experience designing iconic projects across the globe, including: Atlantis-The Palm, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Dorado, Puerto Rico; Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Guitar Tower, Hollywood, Florida; and Sofitel Mexico City Reforma, the first luxury hotel to open in Mexico City, Mexico in more than a decade.

This Dallas-based team brings a rich background in hospitality, luxury residential and commercial interior design to an already deep bench of talent at HBG Design, representing 100 professionals with a focused specialty in hotel design, resort destinations, and gaming and entertainment design.

“We believe the integration of this diverse, talented group of former Wilson Associates professionals into our firm will further enhance and enrich HBG Design’s mission to design personal, memorable and transformative experiences for our clients.
Rick Gardner, AIA, Practice Leader

About HBG Design

Founded in 1979, HBG Design continually ranks as a Top 10 hospitality design firm in the US, and has for over two decades. HBG is currently ranked #4 on the 2020 Top Designers list published by Hotel Business Magazine; and is also ranked #6 on the 2020 Hotel Design Giants list published by Building Design & Construction Magazine. The firm has been recognized with more than 200 design and industry excellence awards. HBG Design has been lauded for its business approach and commitment to employee growth and development, winning multiple Architecture/Engineering industry “Hot Firm” awards; eight national A/E “Best Places to Work” awards and four national awards for operations management and employee engagement.

In addition to crossover clients with the former Wilson Associates Dallas Office including Hyatt, Hilton, and Hard Rock International, HBG Design’s clients include Gaylord Entertainment/Gaylord Hotels, Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Elvis Presley Enterprises and more than 40 Sovereign Nations across the United States.


Cache Creek Resort Hotel Stuns with Beauty Inspired by Northern California's Alluring Capay Valley

Designed by nationally recognized hospitality design firm HBG Design, the stunning, new four-diamond $180 million hotel expansion at Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, Ca. opened to guests in late 2020. Owned and operated by Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and located just fifty miles northwest of Sacramento, the resort is one of Northern California’s largest upscale resort destinations.

Watch the ‘A Virtual Journey of Cache Creek Casino Resort’ video below.

 

The new 450,000 SF, 459-room resort hotel is ensconced by the Capay Valley’s gently rolling hills, continuous rows of leafy orchards, sprawling farms and vineyards, where the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation also produces its own wines, olive oil, honey, almonds and other agricultural products.

“Architecturally, the exterior design fits seamlessly within its idyllic setting and is a fresh take on the California Mission-style aesthetic reflected in the four-diamond resort property,” says Nathan Peak, AIA, Design Director at HBG Design.

HBG Design’s ‘Plentiful Valley/Fertile Ground’ interior design concept springs to life inside, inspired by characteristics of the Capay Valley that are experienced during the four distinct seasons.

“Interiors draw heavily from the region’s agrarian landscape using organic and textural materials and patterns to connect the new resort hotel to the heart of the valley and its abundant agriculture,” says Emily Marshall, IIDA, Interior Design Director at HBG Design. “The guest experience relates beautifully to the region’s unique sense of place.”

The vibrant lobby bar/lounge incorporates maroon hues accented by honey golden tones and frenzied hive patterns recalling the honeybee and its agricultural significance to the valley. The Enso Sushi bar blends almond blossom inspired color and texture with natural wood grain and organic cork and bamboo. The C2 Steak & Seafood restaurant’s rich custom millwork and dramatic glass globe pendant light wall emulate the bounty of the valley’s wine country and cattle farms.

“The hotel tower and function spaces have been sited to amplify the limitless views over the valley,” says Peak. Cache Creek has raised the bar dramatically on guest amenity offerings with the upscale resort expansion. Guestrooms and suites offer panoramic views, while the glamorous two-story Presidential Suite offers a private media/theater room, private spa and fitness room. “There is nothing in the region quite like it,” adds Marshall. New entertainment and event amenities, a landscaped resort pool environment and a new full-service luxury spa complete the phased expansion.

 

Flip through and read more about the project design below.

 


GGB Magazine Spotlights SAFEBET: An Industry Game-Changer During COVID and Beyond

See Full Article in Global Gaming Business Magazine

Here’s a new twist on safety in numbers.

For the casino world, it means that without safety, there are no numbers. The gaming industry, aided by sharp vendors, enters a safety age exceeding hand-sanitizing stations, Plexiglas shields and social-distance markers.

At relatively breakneck speed, vendors have unearthed products integrating safety and finance. The advancements look so creative they may also help the country leave the Covid-19 era. Other innovations are psychological, as in the engagement between companies and patrons via social casinos and their marketing vehicles.

Once the Covid-19 era recedes—and it will—analysts may recall this time as the industry embracing unprecedented ingenuity.

Bet on Safety

HBG Design is well-known for building great structures, but when the pandemic hit, the company geared efforts toward protecting them.

Enter SafeBet, a solution geared to the epicenter of the casino economic engine, the slot floor. From a health standpoint, it’s almost a luxury super box.

A Plexiglas component, which can help prevent someone from being sneezed upon, is joined by an air-filtration system that catches small droplets. There are also partitions between stations. A player can be in the middle of the action while retaining personal space.

Rick Gardner, AIA, CEO, principal and practice leader for HBG, says the company began designing this solution last April, as the pandemic was closing casinos and halting projects. Its solution targets both the current and perceived post-pandemic environments.

“We immediately started thinking about making casino gaming safe in the face of Covid-19, but a few months into the spring we quickly realized this is a different kind of pandemic, with a lasting impact unlike anything the world has experienced before,” Gardner asserts.

“I’m an optimist at heart, but there will be something else post-Covid affecting public health even after we get vaccines in arms and achieve herd immunity. Even if we’re just talking about the human psyche, we are forever changed. Will anyone want to sit shoulder-to-shoulder at a slot bank ever again? We don’t think so. Human behavior pre-Covid already favored physical separation between individuals.”

Why not embrace it? The safety measures enable people to play, but the concept can also be used for exclusivity, especially for high-limit games. Any operator able to manage this may turn survival into revival.

Here’s how it works:

Air from the indoor casino environment enters SafeBet through the intake grill, designed low to draw less smoke-laden air than air found in the upper reaches of a typical casino floor. As the indoor casino air enters the SafeBet intake grill, it is propelled by a recirculating fan through a patent-pending, ultraviolet-C lamp fixture custom-designed for SafeBet.

The indoor air is cleaned via two proven filtration systems. They are UVC radiation, designed to kill any viruses, bacteria or mold spores by exposure to ultraviolet light; and needle point bipolar ionization, which attracts air particulates like a magnet, stopping them in their tracks before proceeding to the supply air in the breathing zone.

The distribution of ionized air is introduced evenly into the breathing zone at a low velocity into the SafeBet station at the approximate height of an average person’s head/nose/mouth, providing a clean, particulate-free air supply to the guest.

“I think one of the key differentiators of SafeBet as a Covid product is that it’s not what you typically think of first,” Gardner says. “When I think of Covid products, my mind goes to jumbo-size hand sanitizer pumps, face masks, washing hands, etc., more in the PPE realm. I also think about the Plexiglas partitions that were initially installed as temporary fixes.

“So, when I think of SafeBet as a Covid product, it represents more of a design enhancement that solves customer safety challenges, but you honestly can’t even tell it’s a Covid product. That’s part of the beauty and ingenuity of it.”

Gardner says HBG wanted to create a long-term solution to innovate, adapt, research, design and build a product that not only addressed the critical needs of its customers now, but anticipated the future.

Gardner says SafeBet will be a difference-maker between casinos. HBG is collaborating with its manufacturing and distribution partner, KGM Gaming of Philadelphia, to take the product to the market, initially through existing casino clients who represent first adopters. A prototype is available to explore and experience in KGM’s Philadelphia showroom.

HBG expects to have initial installations in place in the first quarter of 2021.

“Casino customers have a choice in where they want to go and play, and by and large they gravitate to slot machines,” he says. “When a customer experiences the choice of gaming in a SafeBet station, we believe their time on machine will actually increase, and the stations themselves will generate more play.”

 


Graceland's Chapel in the Woods receives Merit Award from AIA Memphis

HBG Design received the AIA Merit Award from the AIA Memphis Chapter for Graceland's Chapel in the Woods in Memphis, Tennessee.

Just under 2,600 square feet, this quaint chapel represents the down-to-earth side of Elvis, who was raised in small-town Tupelo, Mississippi. An ode to rural church design, the humble chapel’s shotgun framework makes nature the main showcase, outside and in.

This quaint chapel, accessed only by a scenic walking path, sits among trees and gardens not far from Elvis Presley’s Graceland© Mansion and new resort experience in Memphis, Tennessee.

Inspired by Elvis’ childhood home in Tupelo, Mississippi, a simple shotgun style, the modest structure is a distinct contrast from the legendary performer’s famous 1970s mansion. And that was intentional. Elvis is not only an international music icon, but he is known for his true ‘rags to riches’ story from his humble beginnings as a small-town boy with gospel roots. Designers considered this duality and the Owner’s vision for “a small rustic country chapel” when creating the design.

Through the steep gabled entryway, three elevations of glass windows frame views to the surrounding trees, giving the serene perception of being married in the woods. White horizontal exterior siding wraps around the exterior façade moving through into the interior walls to connect exterior and interior design elements. The light siding is contrasted with rich, rustic wooden beams, columns and interior siding, softened by the varying hues of green plantings outside. Clean architectural details provide reveals and relief on all surfaces. Large dramatic trusses in the main chapel bring a touch of complexity to the otherwise simple shotgun chapel typology.

The chapel purposely presents a straightforward organization of space – with rooms for the bride and groom, traditional wooden pews and an outdoor reception space – remaining true to the duality that was Elvis Presley.

To find out more about the project and project team, you can view the award submittal at AIA Memphis.


The Star Luxury Apartments receives Honor Award from AIA Memphis

HBG Design received the AIA Honor Award from the AIA Memphis Chapter for the restoration and revitalization of The Star Luxury Apartments at the Historic Texaco Building in downtown Houston, Texas. To find out more about the project and project team, you can view the award submittal at AIA Memphis.

Designers undertook a vigorous restoration and revitalization effort to convert a long-abandoned, century-old landmark headquarters as a stunning 17-story mixed-use multi-family tower, reconnecting it to the urban fabric as a focal point for downtown Houston’s live-work-play vision.

After oil giant Texaco moved out of its downtown Houston location in 1989, the historic, century-old office building stood vacant for more than twenty years waiting for its next purpose. Engaged by a local developer with plans to reshape the desolate building into a luxury apartment community, designers had a large task ahead of them. Originally designed in Renaissance Revival style with Beaux-Arts accents, The Star incorporates an initial, 13-story structure that opened in 1915, with an addition added in 1938 and a 16-story addition added in 1958. Though mostly gutted over its 30 years of non-use, sitting in dilapidated condition in the heart of central downtown, many historically-significant features were judged to be restorable. Designers worked hand-in-hand with historic regulatory agencies through extensive approval processes in the preservation and sourcing of similar materials to match the original design intent of the building. Creative design by the architects altered the building layout from an office floor plate to apartment units. To accommodate the new use, the team designed an L-shaped 66,000 square foot addition to the back side of the historic building, increasing the overall dimension of the upper floors. This solution was able to increase density and create more efficient use of the land, while maintaining historic integrity.

 


HBG Design named a Rising Giant by Interior Design Magazine

HBG Design's interior design team has been named a Rising Giant in the 2020 ID Rising Giants list by Interior Design Magazine. To see the full list visit Interior Design Magazine. 

 

 


HBG Design Named Top Workplace for 6th Consecutive Year

HBG Design has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2020 honor by The Commercial Appeal. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage, LLC. The anonymous survey uniquely measures 15 drivers of engaged cultures that are critical to the success of any organization: including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

This year HBG Design was also recognized as THE top workplace for outstanding benefits.  This is the second time HBG has been singled out for the strength of the firm's benefits with this special Top Workplace award.

"To be awarded this honor by you – our employees – for the sixth time in a row speaks volumes about the strength of our culture and our future," said Terri Struminger, COO at HBG Design, as she addressed staff at the annual State of the Firm event.

To see more visit The Commercial Appeal. 

 


HBG Design Talks Sportsbook Design in Casino Design Magazine

See full article in Casino Design Magazine. 

Sportsbooks are the new hot item in casinos, so how do you design a sportsbook that competes, but also compliments your app?

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/casino_20style_20magazine_202020/34