GGB Casino Style: Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is in the Winner's Circle

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/casino_style_magazine_2021/6

Read the full article above and at GGB Casino Style magazine.

 

The racetrack name may be as revered as the resort city it occupies: Oaklawn Racing in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1904, Oaklawn opened as a 1,500-seat grandstand, hosting high-stakes thoroughbred races. In the past 100-plus years, it has become the No. 1 tourist attraction in the state, and is now known as Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

In 2009, HBG Design was instrumental in the addition of a casino to the jockey club, and then oversaw a casino expansion and renovation in 2015. Most recently, Oaklawn turned to HBG to lead the architecture and interior design for the newest large-scale racing and gaming resort expansion.

It includes an eight-story, 198-room hotel with thrilling views of the horse track, a 15,000-square-foot event center, an expanded gaming floor and new high-limit area, a world-class spa and pool, and multiple upscale food and beverage venues including a food court, the First Turn Bar and the Bugler restaurant.

The Cella family, owners and operators of Oaklawn for generations, looked for a design that emphasized the resort’s roots in racing. HBG’s “tailored equestrian” concept more than fulfills that vision. The expansion took many design cues from Hot Springs’ heyday as America’s First Spa Resort, renowned for its thermal springs and iconic Victorian bathhouses.

Designers followed the strong horizontal silhouettes of the original grandstand to inform much of the aesthetic, introducing linear, interlocking volumes and building shapes to tie the elements together aesthetically. A new video wall builds anticipation as guests arrive.

Visual notes in the building’s architecture bring to mind thoroughbreds galloping to the finish line, adding a sense of movement to the iconic hotel mass.

Color and texture add visual interest, with metal panels in shades of red, orange, tan and blue-gray contrasting with a lighter-hued stone base and columns to continue the contemporary aesthetic. Corrugated materials on the exterior recall the grooves left on the racetrack turf after it is smoothed by chain harrows.

Bold architectural gestures highlight the two-story lobby and soaring prefunction space. The grand staircase and escalators are striking features of the tall entry lobby, and lead patrons to the new food court, main gaming floor and hotel guest rooms.

The lobby combines a refined modern aesthetic with historical undercurrents, using a restrained gray-blue, navy and tan color palette, natural woodplank ceiling, traditional patterned tile, marble finishes, and a breathtaking circular gold metallic chandelier.

The theme continues underfoot, in the carpet pattern, with overlapping planes that bring to mind galloping horses. They work together with lighting and pattern to create a sense of movement around the floor. The subtle equestrian theme continues in the sophisticated guest rooms and suites, for an aligned guest experience from end to end.

The use of glass fosters indoor/outdoor connection. To reinforce racing as the main attraction, the new hotel and amenity structures wrap around the track.

All design references in the expansion subtly hint at the rich horse racing heritage at Oaklawn, using abstract design themes as the catalyst for discovery. As Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith noted at the opening of the newly expanded space, “You’ll find throughout the whole facility that racing is in some way, shape or form involved in the design. What we want people to recognize is we are a racetrack first, and then we are a hotel and casino next.”

Smith said Oaklawn offers guests a “new level of luxury“ in the historic resort city.

OWNERS: The Cella Family
ARCHITECTURAL & INTERIOR DESIGN: HBG Design
TOTAL INVESTMENT: $100 million-plus
OPENED: April 2021


GGB Casino Style: Diamonds Are Forever at Desert Diamond West Valley Casino

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/casino_style_magazine_2021/10

Read the full article above or here.

The new Diamond VIP Lounge at Desert Diamond West Valley Casino in Glendale, Arizona was meant to dazzle—literally.

Diamonds are meaningful symbols in the culture of the Tohono O’odham Nation, which owns and operates the gaming property. Inspired by the brilliance of the stones, the team at HBG Design introduced ambient lighting to illuminate the new lounge and new high-limit room.

Heightened by diamond-like patterns, the light refracts on gleaming upscale finishes throughout the space, including marble and decorative glass tiles, vibrant pendant lighting, fractal-patterned screening and carpeting, and jewel-toned fabrics.

Together, the elements create a truly luminous environment, grounded by a sophisticated desert-toned palette that calls to mind the sculptural features of the earth. The high-limit area, adjacent to the lounge, continues the jewel-inspired design scheme.

The aesthetic of the property derives from a concept called “The Dynamic Earth,” inspired by the vibrance and energy of the desert landscape. It is echoed in unique design interpretations in multiple food-and-beverage venues, the casino floor, and VIP and public spaces, and will inform future phases of the resort’s development, which tentatively include a hotel, spa and convention center.

The VIP lounge is the culmination of a multimillion-dollar resort plan that was first announced by the Tohono O’odham in 2009. After multiple legal challenges, the resort’s first phase was completed in 2015, with the larger project launched in December 2017. According to local media, construction workers spent more than 1 million hours building the $400 million facility.

Dr. Ned Norris, Jr., chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, said the projects are “creating a brighter future for the Tohono O’odham, the West Valley and Arizona… We will continue working with our partners to create even greater opportunity for us all.”

With the design aesthetic developed by HBG Design team, the elegant space will continue to attract visitors to Desert Diamond West Valley—and to dazzle them all.

OWNER: The Tohono O’odham Nation
DESIGNER: HBG Design


GGB Casino Style Highlights Changes in Post-Pandemic Design

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/casino_style_magazine_2021/16

As Covid-19 reaches the rearview mirror of gaming operators, its future impact fits two distinct areas. Some properties have resumed pre-pandemic operations with a few tweaks. Others consider the post-pandemic world a permanent change for casino design. Casinos will incorporate safety-first measures and try striking a balance between safety, comfort, player cultivation and bottom-line innovations.

As casinos emerge from the pandemic, and resume investing in their operations, the design industry’s biggest players guide them forward, armed with the knowledge of which camp each property fits in.

GGB Casino Style Highlights Changes in Post-Pandemic Design

Making Lemons from Lemonade

Covid produced new realities, which breeds new opportunities in the eyes of HBG Design, a powerful group that has helped its clients get out in front of the pandemic.

“If there is such a thing as good news about ‘design after Covid,’ it’s the emphasis on flexibility and reinvention. Those two words have been a steady part of the gaming vernacular practically since its inception,” says Dike Bacon, principal at HBG Design.

“You have to keep your property fresh and in-step with trends in consumer behaviors, and while it may sound strange to think of ‘design after Covid’ as an opportunity, it represents one of the biggest shifts in consumer behaviors we’ve seen, possibly ever.”

HBG Design works with operators to re-think and re-invent communal spaces in their properties—from F&B to guest rooms, entertainment venues and, of course, the casino floor, he indicates. “These spaces will continue to play a vital role in connecting people; the design simply has to adapt and flex to support all of humanity’s newly redefined needs,” Bacon asserts.

Gaming-floor space provides another creative outlet. Although new ramifications have hit this area, the reason people gamble has not, according to Nathan Peak, AIA, LEED Green Associate, who also is a principal and design director at HBG. “The pandemic may have redefined the way we think about spaces—especially communal spaces,” Peak says, “but the reason why guests come together to share experiences hasn’t changed.

“The essence of these interactive entertainment spaces hasn’t been lost. Casino resort amenities and especially the casino floor thrive on big spaces teeming with lots of energy and people, and they always will.”

Applying thoughtful, flexible design sensibilities to communal gaming spaces and amenities is more critical than ever before, as these spaces must now be able to easily transform and handle fluid situations, he indicates.

“The key,” says Peak, “is reimagining what flexibility looks like. Before Covid, flexibility may have meant stackable furniture or retractable event space seating, but the word flexibility has been redefined because of the pandemic. Today, we look at flexibility as shaping spaces that are malleable and can adjust to a host of layout options suitable for individual privacy, groups, and social interaction.

“Ultimately, it’s about designing flexible spaces that cater to flexible needs. The ideas of physical space and user experience are more connected than ever before, as people may still feel wary of sitting close to others, yet don’t want to be in isolation.”

High Limits area at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort/HBG Design

The idea of adaptable and flexible public spaces can be seen throughout HBG Design’s recently completed Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in historic Hot Springs, Arkansas. Across the property one sees influence of “design after Covid,” Peak asserts, noting its soaring hotel lobby space designed with a number of different interaction zones that easily shift from quiet personal spaces to socialization hubs for groups to gather before heading to the casino floor.

Flexible FF&E accompanies thoughtfully considered layouts that can be easily changed and reconfigured depending on the needs of operators and their guests.

“In the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort lobby, we’ve used bold architectural gestures like the grand staircase and escalators which create dramatic structural elements and strong visual presence that directs casino guests to the main gaming floor, new food court and the hotel guest rooms on the second level,” Peak indicates. “Every space needs a moment that pulls you in, and these central elements draw you in, create interest and also provide a sense of openness in the space that puts guests in the right frame of mind—that they’ve entered not only a beautiful, glamorous entertainment space, but a safe space to enjoy.”

The pandemic has also seriously affected regional material sourcing, which plays a vital role in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.

Bacon says a new sensibility about sourcing materials from regional makers and manufacturers has come out of the pandemic. “As designers seek to achieve an aesthetic that is of the area and create experiential moments, local and regional materials play a vital role in expressing that authenticity.

“Where the pandemic comes into play is in the material shortages, higher costs, and longer lead times the entire AEC industry is experiencing today,” he adds. “Covid created significant manufacturing shutdowns, especially overseas, leading to material shortages and often complete lack of availability, higher tariffs from international manufacturers shipping domestically and transportation concerns. As an alternative, carefully sourced regional options can not only circumvent such transportation and tariff issues, but they can also promote greater connection to place in meaningful ways.”

Lobby area at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort/HBG Design

The effects of Covid extend to another area, the disrupted supply chains.

“Supply chain issues will probably go on for another year or so,” says Emily Marshall, IIDA, NCIDQ, principal and director of HBG Design’s Interior Design Group. “Many of our clients in the branded hospitality space, as well as in gaming, have told us they are looking at 30–32-week lead items for most of their FF&E and lighting. That makes a big impact on accommodating anticipated construction and installation schedules.”

One way HBG Design is working around the supply chain situation is by using more regional manufacturers who employ skilled tradesmen who build case goods and millwork in a shop, versus working onsite. This not only keeps the level of quality high, but also increases efficiency.

“We’re very supportive of this type of FF&E delivery because the craftsmanship is excellent and there is so much less waste as a result,” adds Marshall. “Like Dike said, if there can be any sort of ‘good’ outcome of the pandemic, it’s that our eyes have been opened to looking at everything from design to delivery through a different lens, while reimagining the way spaces are used, designed, and furnished. And that, in the long run, will be better for everyone.”

Read the full article above, and here.


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