Casino Design 2019 Issue, BUILDING EXCITEMENT

Containing Culture & Costs

By Dave Bontempo   Tue, Jul 31, 2019

Indian Head Casino in Warm Springs, Oregon


Excitement spans several levels at Indian Head Casino.
Its lean and mean $11.2 million cost fit nicely into a price range banks or investors could fund quickly. The size, moderate by design standards, ensured a quick building turnaround of less than one year. And the cultural expression pleased the tribes while providing an aesthetic experience for the public. The 20,000-square-foot facility, which opened February 4, 2019, includes 500 slots and video poker machines, an 18,000-square-foot gaming area, penny slots through $10 high-stake slots, and eight blackjack tables.
“It’s like a very contemporary sculpture that you can inhabit,” says Bryan Hamlin, vice president of design for Denver-based WorthGroup Architects, which was largely responsible for the project. “It has fresh finishes, earthy tones. It is very comfortable, extremely inviting and yet it recalls an ancestry that goes back 10,000 years.”
The building exterior, with three large structures to denote the tribes, commemorates Celilo Falls, a sensitive chapter in tribal history. Celilo Falls, on the Columbia River, was the site of a revered fishery for the tribes. It was lost in 1957 with the building of the Dalles dam, which killed the largest Native trading center in the country.
The Celilo Falls legacy is recalled in the fine structural composition here.
Another design element is the river of light. Winding its way across the casino ceiling, it is a series of suspended custom LED curved chandeliers. They create abstracted color and motion.
Patrons will notice an organic shape that connects the entire gaming floor across the room. This allows the patron to have the same visual experience from both the main and east lobbies. These suspended, illuminated elements represent both the river and the wind traveling down the valley. The use of programmable LED lighting creates a true feel of water and movement throughout the space.  
The Cottonwood Restaurant façade, meanwhile, features several hundred interlocking horizontal wood elements, Hamlin says. They recall the tribe’s lumber industries and create the dynamic façade of the restaurant.         
Integrated within the floor-to-ceiling pattern, guests will recognize the Indian Head profile of the symbolic local rock formation from which the casino receives its name.

Owners: The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, represented by the Warm Springs, Wasco and Paiute tribes
Architect: WorthGroup Architects
Size: 20,000 square feet; 18,000-square-foot gaming floor
Investment: $11.2 million

By Dave Bontempo

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