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.


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.