Other trends will include further experimentation with natural light – considered taboo until the design of the Macau Casino – and the continued departure from “themed or fantasy-based” concepts with an increased movement towards a contemporary architectural expression relating to the local region.
Also, new and evolving gaming device technology will drive casino design. Casino renovations will pay closer attention to improving the gaming floor, such as creating player niches and gaming focal points.
Is there a Canadian approach to casino design?
Most folks perhaps think of the mega-resorts in Las Vegas and Reno as the “American” approach, but it’s more accurate to consider casinos in terms of two basic types; “local” or “regional” casinos, and “tourist” or “destination” casinos. The design approach for these two types is quite different ... or should be.
What are the major reasons for embarking on a redesign or expansion?
Like other casinos, as well as hospitality and entertainment venues, it is important to remain competitive, maintain and increase market share, and cater to a changing demographic. As well, a much more informed guest with higher expectations will drive change with the overriding objective of that being to increase the bottom line.
What are some challenges the design team faces?
Our team consists of architects, interior designers, food and beverage consultants, engineers, site planners, transportation / traffic / parking consultants, landscape designers, lighting and signage design, costing consultants, and similar professionals. Every project has unique challenges that relate to the site or property, including accessibility, visibility, orientation, sense of arrival, and parking, for example. We strive to create the appropriate design solution and architectural expression while addressing issues related to the 24/7 nature of casinos and hotels.
Our design team focuses first-most on planning the “flow” of patrons and choreographing the sequence of events that should be experienced, that encourage exploration, and lead one to, through, and ultimately back to the gaming floor. Design combines artistry with technical issues. It involves creating beautiful and exciting spaces, but also functional and maintainable solutions. Understanding the issues related to security, cash movement, back-of-house requirements, etc., are all part of the design equation. Architects, interior designers, and engineers imagine and see things in three dimensions and consider the impact that different shapes, sizes, and scale of spaces have on the users. Creating interior space does involve selecting materials, finishes and colours, but this is all done to reinforce the overall idea of what the space or spaces should be. What is the experience we are trying to create for visitors? How does a high, brightly lit volume of space affect the user versus a lower and dimly lit space? How do you create interest, fun and excitement? How does lighting change one's perception? Our challenge is to create a sense of excitement and memorable experiences that have a lasting effect and to do so while improving our client’s bottom line.
How can an internal casino project team help with these challenges and what knowledge do they need?
In our projects, we collaborate with the casino’s marketing and business development group, gaming operations, procurement, finance, security, entertainment, F&B, and construction managers (to name a few). Their knowledge of patrons’ preferences and tendencies, operational issues and the casino’s functional requirements can greatly impact design decisions.
With greater insight of the design process, space requirements, project timelines, and construction costs, casino managers and directors can have a greater influence on the redevelopment of their properties and be better prepared for construction-related issues that impact their casino operations.
This interview was prepared by Judith Hayes, Director; and Dayna Hinkel, Business Development Officer, with Canadian Gaming Centre of Excellence, a subsidiary of the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation.