GGB Casino Style Magazine: Designing Emotional Connection

Read how HBG is designing emotional connection into three of our new casino resort projects.

“An entertainment experience is all about emotion—basically about having fun and enjoying yourself in an extraordinary environment,” says Dike Bacon, principal at HBG Design. “For many casino patrons, the resort is their country club. It’s their escape. It’s what they do to have fun.

“I use the analogy of a golfer. Even in tough economic times, golfers will find the money to play golf because that’s what they like to do. Even in tough times, gamblers will find the money to gamble because that’s what they like to do.

Gaming operators jockey to find an edge. They mirror the Field of Dreams concept from the famous movie: if you build it, they will come.

“Owners and operators are expanding with larger, more targeted and exceptional property developments and improvements,” Bacon indicates. “From small-scale renovations and incremental expansions to huge multi-faceted super-regional resort-level entertainment additions. There are also exciting expansions to existing jurisdictions like Illinois and New York and huge investments in new jurisdictions like Virginia.”

Bacon hails the industry’s resilience. It faces headwinds regarding economics, the pandemic and oversaturation, but finds a way to emerge stronger.

“The industry seems to always be battling Chicken Little headwinds in some form or fashion, but always seems to just push through better than ever,” Bacon says.

“Owners are currently molding and reshaping their expansions and renovations to accommodate changing economic conditions, but many regional gaming properties continue to ride a wave of success. In many markets, expanded facilities are creating entertainment experiences that often rival or eclipse what’s offered in Las Vegas. At HBG Design, we are working with great clients; we are busy; and we are doing great things.

READ MORE IN GLOBAL GAMING BUSINESS' 2022 CASINO STYLE MAGAZINE

Designing Emotional Connection

Gun Lake Casino Resort, Wayland, Michigan

One of HBG Design's largest projects is the $300 million Gun Lake Casino expansion for the Gun Lake Tribe in Wayland, Michigan. The project is located just south of Grand Rapids, which is only a few hours’ drive from Chicago and Detroit. Gun Lake owners have set their sights on creating the premier entertainment destination in the Midwest, Bacon says. It’s a true super-regional resort with an expansion program designed to drive traffic from those two major metropolitan areas. The new project will consist of a 252-room hotel tower, multiple support amenities, and a new climate-controlled atrium called the Aquadome.

Rock & Brews Casino, Braman, Oklahoma

The first-ever HBG-designed Rock & Brews Casino and Restaurant owned by Kaw Gaming opened for business in Braman, Oklahoma this year. Co-branding with recognizable names from outside the casino industry to anchor key amenities is not a new concept, but is gaining more traction with tribally owned casinos as a means to broaden market appeal and greater name recognition from an expanding customer base, Bacon says. The 71,000-square-foot gaming project features an expertly curated interactive rock-inspired entertainment experience that only Rock & Brews—and its co-founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of iconic rock band KISS—can provide. The Rock & Brews brand and venues are noted for using heavy integration of rock ‘n’ roll imagery and iconography to elicit emotion and nostalgia in customers.


GGB Casino Style Magazine Features Rock & Brews Casino

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Located in North Central Oklahoma, HBG’s ‘Agrarian-Industrial’ Architectural Aesthetic for the Premier Rock & Brews Casino and Restaurant gets a ‘KISS’ of Approval

The first ever Rock & Brews Casino and Restaurant opened for business in Braman, OK, EXIT 231 on I-35, in North Central Oklahoma, on May 10, 2022. The project features an expertly curated interactive rock-inspired entertainment experience that only Rock & Brews–and its co-founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of iconic rock band, KISS–can provide; and a distinctive ‘agrarian-industrial’ architectural and interior design by national Top 5 casino design firm, HBG Design.

Owned by the gaming entity of Oklahoma’s Kaw Nation and developed in partnership with Rock & Brews, the project is a 67,000 square foot expansion and 4,000 square foot renovation to the Kaw Nation’s existing casino operation. The new branded casino and restaurant thoroughly delivers on Rock & Brews’ promise for a high-octane experience.

ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN

The brilliant entertainment is wrapped in distinctive contemporary architecture by HBG Design. The exterior design visually ties into the highly structural barn buildings found in the surrounding rural Oklahoma locale.

The 71,000 SF exterior geometry is animated by gable pitched rooflines, and ribbed metal, wood and glass materiality. and features a six-panel sliding glass door that opens to provide indoor/outdoor Rock and Brews restaurant dining and access to a grand event lawn.

A COHESIVE INTERIOR PALETTE SERVES AS CANVAS FOR BOLD ROCK & ROLL ELEMENTS

The Rock & Brews brand and venues are noted for their heavy integration of rock and roll imagery and iconography. HBG Design’s overall interior design palette became an ideal canvas for these bold elements. The design palette helps achieve visual cohesion from the existing casino to the new casino expansion area. Reds, grays and purples give an edginess to the vibrant walls and patterned carpeting. A mix of color, pattern and texture complement the design intent.

Determination of the appropriate music-related graphics and design implementation within the gaming areas was a team collaboration between Rock & Brews, Kaw Nation and HBG Design.

Across the casino and restaurant, murals of rock bands and performers–including a large KISS mural–adorn the walls and ceilings, lending a casual rocker lair vibe. Guitar fret patterns are etched into columns. Vinyl records with names of recording artists add dimension and variation to the floor patterns at the Grab and Go. A cymbal-look ceiling element hangs overhead.

Ceiling elements help with wayfinding between the first ever Rock & Brews Casino gaming floor and Oklahoma’s first ever Rock & Brews restaurant. A large guitar pick inscribed with The Beatles’ logo and band member signatures looms above the brick rotunda entryway to the Rock & Brews bar and restaurant. The host stand is created from identifiable “roadie boxes” with a backdrop art piece crafted from industrial metal chains to add true rock and roll ambiance.

To maintain the authentic brand experience that Rock & Brews restaurant and bar is known for, the design team consulted the company’s brand manager for in-depth guidance on the specific, and proven, layout, finishes and materials required in the entry, bar and dining room designs.

Inside the large, vaulted Rock & Brews brewhouse, practically every inch of ceiling space is covered with theatrical banners and backlit framed graphics showcasing signature rock and roll graphics. The graphics are framed by a dramatic performance stage lighting truss hanging from the pitched ceiling, painted the signature Rock & Brews branded red. Colorful murals enliven brick walls. Plank wood-effect tile helps subdue and contemporize the floor plane around the dining and bar areas.

The new Rock & Brews Casino rock and roll vibe fully immerses guests in a concert style environment and high-quality audio and visual experiences, all designed to celebrate the defining moments of rock n’ roll.

The Kaw Nation and Kaw Gaming, Inc., owner/operator of Southwind Casinos throughout Oklahoma, partnered with Rock & Brews to develop this premier Rock & Brews branded casino and restaurant. Rock & Brews co-founders, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, along with their other brand partners, restaurateur Michael Zislis and concert industry veterans Dave and Dell Furano, have opened Rock & Brews restaurants across California, Florida, Kansas, Missouri and Texas, and now Oklahoma.


Premiere Hospitality Features Astral Spa

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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.”


Urban Hotel Design: Embracing the Complication

by Thor Harland, Senior Architectural Designer, HBG Design

Urban Hotel Design Thor

For me, the excitement of urban architecture originates from its inherent complications. It is the limitations and layers of thought that we as designers must critically analyze before introducing new concepts into an already dense city environment.

In most urban settings, available sites for new construction are tightly positioned between existing structures. Each building serves a different user function yet remains connected to the whole. Aesthetics and materiality often vary significantly from building to building, irregular and sometimes raw depending on the age. Some sites retain elements of structures long unused.

New project designs created within the urban framework should be informed by these and other constraints. Historical precedents and environmental context supply ample opportunity to evolve the city’s character.

Our design teams approach these projects with an open mind to the intensity and diversity of a city’s composition. The solutions to these challenges inform the shape, materiality, and function of all new building designs. After all, the more problems a building solves the more value it brings to its surroundings.

In downtown Memphis, Tennessee, three recent hotels designed by HBG Design serve as diverse examples of how a new, evolved design character can reinvigorate the urban landscape bringing immense value to the city collective.

The Canopy by Hilton Downtown Memphis, the Hyatt Centric, and the Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis hotels all represent projects that required thoughtful and rigorous design study to reach their ultimate solutions. Lying vacant for 12 years, the site of a former 50’s era hotel, and a riverside lot with an adjacent 19th century machine shop were each initially viewed as being of limited interest to prospective tenants; some even considered them to be urban blight. Through a new lens, the Canopy, Centric and Caption hotels unveiled opportunities for designers to bring out each building’s individual characteristics and iconic identifiers, ultimately creating enormous community impact.

Canopy by Hilton Downtown Memphis Hotel – Renewing a Gateway Site into Downtown Memphis

Located at an important gateway into downtown Memphis’ urban center and its historic, world-famous attractions, the Canopy hotel replaced the dilapidated Benchmark Hotel, that was still occupying the site. This corner of Union Ave. and BB King Blvd. is the iconic location of the Peabody Hotel and AutoZone Park, only a few shorts blocks from Beale Street.

The new build went up, and, when the Canopy by Hilton opened in 2020, even amid the pandemic, one could not call the achievement of architectural and administrative willpower anything but glorious. - Memphis Business Journal

The Canopy design and construction was extremely complex to navigate, given the owner’s desire to keep existing building structures and foundations from its previous hotel incarnations. The conflicting structural challenges were ultimately transformed into useful square footage and its solution informed a simplified hotel geometry and a comprehensive expression that created a unique dichotomy between upper and lower floor masses.

The project consists of a 171,100 square foot hotel block elevated above a visually transparent podium level and one level of subterranean parking. The hotel block maximizes the site’s guestroom potential through a double-loaded guestroom corridor ring surrounding an internal light well. A sense of transparency and natural daylighting in the hotel’s base level is achieved through floor to ceiling storefront systems along the South and East edges and two large skylights located under the light well that amplify the restaurant, lounge, and bar amenities.

A Discerningly Rebellious Urban Design, of its Time and Place

To me, great architecture evokes unexpected beauty and resistance but is based in unarguable logic. Through our project visioning, brand interpretation and concepts, the Canopy architecture became less about individual expression and more about amplifying the neighborhood experience in Memphis as the city is today.

The Canopy hotel structure is meant to be a building of its time, and an evolution of Memphis’ downtown personality. We considered the historical precedents and the progressive concept of the Canopy brand; and we used these themes as idea generators for our explorations. The result is a concept that is respectful to place, but also a representation of its contemporary generation.

Downtown Memphis architecture has a long industrial history with rows of ornate brick hotel, office and former warehouse buildings lining the urban streets. The materials, proportion, scale and well composed fenestrations of the Canopy are meant to evoke the characteristics of the existing network of mid-rise masonry architecture in the downtown area.

Brick was an important material for continuity, but the size of the brick is slightly different at the Canopy. We used a larger scale brick, and the patterning isn’t a typical running bond; it’s a stacked bond pattern. So, there is some deviation there that helps give the building its own identity. It’s the slight, subtle differences like that and just the overall geometry of the heavy upper floor mass floating above the open public space below that helps to differentiate the design from its neighbors.

A dark charcoal gray palette and simplification of form contemporizes the visual aesthetic of the architecture. It’s discerningly rebellious. I love that an Avant Garde result can be created through rigorous historic, aesthetic, and structural investigation and a direct reaction to the project’s context and objectives.

In the Canopy design, we have produced a unique complement to neighboring buildings, and also a structural acknowledgement of Memphis’ continued evolution as a city with its own intricate personality.

See more Canopy Hotel photos here.

This is part one of two in Thor Harland’s series,
Urban Hotel Design: Embracing the Complication

In part two, Thor and other designers will discuss how Memphis’ One Beale Mixed-Use Development gave rise to a full historic city block of branded hospitality, including the Hyatt Centric, and the Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis hotels.

 


HBG Sponsors 2022 Paint Memphis Mural Arts Festival

HBG Sponsors Paint Memphis Festival: HBG Design is excited to share the relaunch of our Kirk Bobo Creating Impact Grant & Volunteer Program, and announce our 2022 community partner, Paint Memphis!

We will be kicking off our volunteer activities at the 2022 Paint Memphis Festival, a fun and creative event designed to animate the Broad Avenue Arts District through the creation of public building mural art.

Read more about the community-friendly festival event below and come out to experience the day’s excitement.

A Painted Broad:
The 2022 Paint Memphis Festival on October 8 in the Broad Avenue Arts District will make mural art beautification a community experience.

Media Contact: Karen B. Golightly, Paint Memphis, 901-275-1981, karen@paintmemphis.org

Ever been curious about the vibrant building murals popping up all over Memphis, seemingly overnight? The 2022 Paint Memphis Festival will demystify the mural art process during their one-day community painting event in the Broad Avenue Arts District on Saturday, October 8, from noon to 6 p.m. It’s going to be an immersive, creative, and family-friendly experience, fully open to the public.  

Over 150 local and regional artists will converge to show off their talents and connect with the community in the making of the largest collaborative mural art event in Tennessee. The festival is also expecting special regional guest artists to include the Carpenter Art Garden, Houston High School, the Girl Scouts Heart of the South Council, and Christian Brothers University.

“Expanding on Broad Avenue’s clever redevelopment tagline, “A New Face for an Old Broad,” our festival artists are giving a colorful facelift to several of the buildings on Hollywood, Broad, Bingham, and Scott Streets,” says Karen B. Golightly, Executive Director and Founder of Paint Memphis. We want the public to be part of this artistic endeavor, to meet the artists and take part in enhancing the neighborhood, during a day of work (for us), art appreciation, learning, and entertainment.”

Over 50 vendors and food trucks, and a children’s hands-on makers space, will engage artists and art lovers of all ages. Several demonstrations and workshops are planned to help involve the community in the creative process, including:

  • A hands-on mural workshop by Zulu Artist
  • A skateboarding workshop by Society Memphis
  • Performances by Memphis Hoopers and the Kumar Indian Dance Troop
  • Live painting by local, national, and international artists.

New this year are corresponding gallery shows by over 100 of the participating festival artists, to be held at some of Broad Avenue’s finest businesses on Friday, October 7, 5-8 pm.

All mural art will be family and community friendly. Designed to spread positivity, Paint Memphis has set up beautification guidelines for the murals.

“No nudity, no profanity, no drug or gang imagery, nothing political, and most importantly, no zombies,” states Golightly. “We’ve gathered input from the neighbors through door-to-door and online surveys, and our artists are great at listening to public wishes to create art that will enrich our neighborhood spaces.”

Paint Memphis is a 501(C)3 organization that paints large collaborative murals involving local and national artists. Since 2015, Paint Memphis’ one-day paint festival has produced the best street and fine art in the South. The organization welcomes all types of artists of all skill levels and styles. Their diverse artist base donates time and talent each year to the mission to turn blight into art.

Learn more at PaintMemphis.org

And check out the artists at www.instagram.com/paint_memphis/

Read about HBG Design's previous Creating Impact Grant and Volunteer Program projects.


HBG Design Ranks 'Top 10' with BD&C

We are excited to announce our placements in Building Design & Construction Magazine's Top Hospitality and Entertainment Design Firms List for 2022:

HBG Design is #6 on list of Top 120 Hospitality Sector Architecture + AE Firms for 2022, BD&C Magazine!

and

HBG Design is #3 on list of Top 20 Casino Architecture + AE Firms for 2022, BD&C Magazine!

 


Gun Lake Aquadome inspired by the sun’s path in the sky

Hospitality and entertainment design firm HBG Design is helming the design of Michigan's new Gun Lake Casino Aquadome – a glass-roofed, climate-controlled, indoor landscaped pool and event centre atrium environment.

Read the full article here at CLAD magazine.

BY MEGAN WHITBY | 12 SEP 2022

The six-storey, 32,000sq ft Gun Lake Aquadome is part of a US$300m (£259.1m, €298.4m) site-wide overhaul of the casino. The investment is also funding the construction of a 252-room hotel and further entertainment amenities.

“The Aquadome is sure to become a must-see feature,” said Paul Bell, AIA, principal at HBG Design.

A resort pool by day and performance complex by night, the glass-enclosed circular structure will generate an immense sense of energy inside and out, while offering a variety of complementary entertainment and gathering opportunities for resort guests and entertainment-seekers.”

Gun Lake Aquadome performance lounge

With a balmy 82℉ (27.7°C) year-round interior climate, the Aquadome will be home to three pools (family, age 21 and over and VIP), pool cabanas, an outdoor patio with a fireplace, a swim-up bar, semi-private nooks wrapped around a central lawn and bars and concessions.

The building’s glass roof structure will be sculpted and modelled by the sun’s daily path across the site and provide a window to the sky throughout the seasons.

HBG Design says the roof’s multi-layered composition has been designed for function and efficiency.

“The targeted high-performance glazing and the atrium’s space frame structure will combine to create the distinguishing sloped oval shape that maximises and filters natural light from solstice to solstice,” says Thor Harland, lead architectural designer at HBG Design.

“From there, the base structure will be a mix of materiality that accommodates the variety of amenities within.”

Gun Lake Aquadome pool

Offering year-round entertainment, the interior Aquadome space will hold an immersive multi-level landscaped pool environment.

The Aquadome will also transform into a concert venue, banquet centre and entertainment venue capable of hosting large events with a 2,400-person capacity. Seating will be able to be configured around water features in a variety of arrangements.

Functional and decorative acoustical panelling will be integrated aesthetically into the design to enhance and regulate sound during live performances.

Plus, a temporary yet dramatic installation of flex acoustics will be suspended about 40 feet above the stage for further sound control, depending on the type of performance.

“Without question, the Aquadome’s design attributes will create a first-class destination resort and a highly unique entertainment experience,” said Gun Lake Casino CEO, Sal Semola.

“This is just the next step towards making our property the premier entertainment destination in the Midwest.”

Construction of the Aquadome and hotel began in late May 2022.

Article also published in Attractions Management magazine here.

Article also published in Spa Business magazine here.


Global Gaming: 'Spreading the Sports'

Spreading the Sports: Maximizing profit with modern sportsbook design

Read the full article here at Global Gaming Business.

 

HBG Design is one of the leading casino architecture firms in the country, with a portfolio of projects that spans from New York to Arizona. Practice Leader Nathan Peak understands the importance of getting the atmosphere right, because “betting is often more fun and more appealing to a much broader customer base if it’s a social and communal experience,” he says.

“Most often, we find that clients are looking for a way to incorporate the sportsbook into an already-active area of the casino, sometimes to create synergy with an existing adjacent amenity,” says Peak.

“This helps build energy into the sports gaming experience and infuse activity into nearby amenities. Rather than locate a vital revenue-generating amenity like the sportsbook in the smoky shadows of the property, we want to make it highly visible. Several of our recent sportsbook concepts integrate sports betting into the center bar or into existing restaurants or into multi-use venues… Think, camaraderie with your friends, big TV screens, multiple games on at once, comfortable chairs, tables and bar seating with great food and bar service.”

Regardless of where the sportsbook is located, collaboration is crucial, especially in the initial stages of planning and design. For Peak and HBG, the two biggest challenges when starting a new project are understanding the “client’s needs from an operational standpoint” as well as “what their customers desire.” National firms may not be in touch with some of the smaller markets, but “clients understand their customers and markets better than anyone else,” so it’s often best to start at the source to sculpt a blank canvas into a functional, money-making space.

“There is always some type of sporting or competitive event happening, which provides continuous opportunities to promote and hold special event nights in the sportsbook, particularly on off nights,” says Peak. And, if worst really does come to worst, operators can always put on sports TV outlets such as ESPN and Fox Sports, in the hopes of convincing stray hotel guests or passersby to stop and watch highlights or talk shows by the bar.

 


Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG

Global Gaming Business Magazine has 5 Questions for HBG Design's Nathan Peak:
Read the profile article here at Global Gaming Business.

 

HBG Design is a recognized leader in the design and construction of new casinos and renovations across the spectrum. Nathan Peak was recently named the practice leader for the firm, and he explains why the company has been successful in the gaming industry, particularly tribal gaming. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros from his office in Memphis in July.

GGB: HBG has established a great reputation in the gaming industry over the years. What’s it going take to maintain that leadership in your new role?

Nathan Peak: I think we have a different way of thinking. In the new role, I want to have a greater focus on integrated design. And what I mean by that is we really like to work with our clients and our operators to understand what they do best and really make design an extension of the gaming experience. For example, I love to get to know our operators. I love to get to know how the slots work and how they put their games together. I like to work with the food and beverage director, understand what their menus are and how our experience can really enhance the experience of the entire property. So I think of that as an extension to architecture and not just building pretty buildings, but really designing experience around what we do that enhances our clients’ properties.

You’ve developed some really great properties, one of them being the Oaklawn Racetrack Casino in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It’s got such a colorful history, and you made the hotel and casino blend into the track. You treated the history with respect and the final design recognizes that.

The Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is a great project. We’re very proud of it. Having the hotel right there at that first turn and having rooms look right down the horse track is a pretty amazing experience. There are lots of great themes throughout that space. We used a lot of the different stripes, and decorations that they put on the horses and used that pattern throughout the casino and the guest rooms—I think it’s really well done.

Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG

A recent job you’ve gotten is the Gun Lake project in Michigan, run by Sal Semola. Tell us about that project.

Sal is a great person to work with and we do it very collaboratively. And they did something very bold. They approached us with a program that I think is very unique. It’s something more of a hybrid where we have a typical hotel that’s going to be a four-diamond hotel that attaches to their existing gaming floor. But the unique thing about that project is what they’re calling the Aquadome, an enclosed atrium space that houses several pools that can also turn into a nightclub or a concert venue in the evening. So it has dual purposes, but having that right in the middle of a cold Michigan winter. It’s going to be something great for their customers every year, year-round.

Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG  Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG

Let’s talk about the design and construction industry post-pandemic. My contacts in the architectural and construction field told me things were going great getting back to normal—actually even better than normal. But with the supply chain issues and rising interest rates, what’s the reality right now?

The reality is that it’s always been challenging post-pandemic. But a really great thing for the industry of design and construction is that it’s really brought design and construction closer together. Design and construction used to be two different silos where we would design something and then have a contractor help us out. But now it’s really about working from the end forward. I’m on daily calls with contractors and subcontractors to find how to make things work. We have to commit to promises for our clients, and working with contractors and design-assist contractors helps us find ways to make things happen.

Following the pandemic, most took slot machines out for social distancing. Today, there are many more carousels rather than long lines of slot machines. How do you work with your clients when you consider a renovation of the casino floor?

To my point I made earlier, I really like to work with all departments, and I get a lot of information back when I talk with the slot directors. To me, they want to energize the gaming floor. We’ve worked with a lot of operators, and a lot of them have reduced their quantities of machines. For example, we work with the Four Winds group in Michigan, the Pokagon Band, and they’ve actually done a pretty significant reduction, but they’ve also seen higher play, a higher win or a higher coin-in for most of the machines just by reducing it. So I think it’s a balance that each property needs to find on its own.

Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG  Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG

Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG


Rain Rock Casino breaks ground on new addition

Read the full article and watch the groundbreaking event video here at KDRV.com.

KDRV NewsWatch 12 covered the Ground Breaking Ceremony.

 Updated 

Yreka, CA - Today the Rain Rock Casino in Yreka broke ground to begin its transformation from a pit stop casino to a travel destination. The future of the casino will provide more stability to Siskiyou County and the Karuk Tribe.

Rain Rock breaks ground