Casino Design 2019 Issue, BUILDING EXCITEMENT

Aqua Fun

By Dave Bontempo   Tue, Jul 31, 2019

Soaring Eagle Waterpark & Hotel, Mount Pleasant, Michigan


How does one minimize the discomfort of winter? Play in it. With a bathing suit!
Soaring Eagle Waterpark & Hotel expects to make winter tribulation a celebration. Its playland is primarily indoors, with the park being roughly 45,000 square feet. A restaurant with 140 seats, meeting rooms for up to 50 people, fitness center, business center, indoor pool with steam room and sauna and 244
guestroom suites complete this unique facility, and vision. There’s an 18-hole golf course too, but that will be limited by weather conditions.
The Waterpark & Hotel was designed by Thalden-Boyd-Emery Architects, who know that winter comes early and stays late in Central Michigan. Although the Waterpark & Hotel opened May 21, in time for a busy summer season, its anticipated novelty will occur during the gray days of January, February and March. The facility is just north of Lansing, the state capitol.
“Way up in Michigan, people get that cabin fever in the winter,” says Chief Boyd, principal for the Thalden-Boyd-Emery group. “The water parks, the lights, the slides, etc., make them think they are back in the summertime. That gets them over that fever and on top of that, the kids love to come.”
The facility serves two market segments. It can be self-sustaining or act as an amenity center for nearby Soaring Eagle Casino, which has the same owners. One family member can watch the kids while the other gambles, for example.
Construction started about a year ago. The architectural design is based on a contemporary rustic approach. In combination with the glass and natural material covered patios trellis structures, this facility embraces the outdoors unified by tower elements and windowed cupolas, vaulted canopies and arched dormers.
The WaterPark interior has a more tribal character, implied by the use of stylized timber details. These elements recall the bent limbs used in the traditional dwelling of the Saginaw Chippewa.
A unique structure also exists in the life-sized form of a grandmother telling stories about the tribe while sitting by a stream.
While the tribal effect is subtle, the entire facility screams “excitement.” One unique element is a water slide that begins indoors, whips around outside the building and winds up indoors. It is a three-story joyride.

Owner: Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan
Architect: Thalden-Boyd-Emery
Size: 103,000 square feet
Cost: $34 million

By Dave Bontempo

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