Silver Reef Casino: Refreshed and Revitalized

Culture and history are important to the Lummi Nation and it was imperative that the recent expansion of the tribe’s Silver Reef Casino reflect these elements. Located in Ferndale, Wash., Silver Reef Casino is both an emblem and a support system, providing employment opportunities for tribal members and contributing 100 percent of revenues to fund necessary goods and services for the Lummi Nation. The recent additions to the property include more than 10,000 square feet of new casino space, a new event center, a 153-seat tiered theater, several meeting rooms, a new cantina-themed restaurant and casino bar and—last but certainly not least—an attractive water feature at the front of the casino. All additions reflect the rich cultural heritage of the tribe and give the property a refreshing new look.

Denean Scott, a design team member since the construction of the casino, was responsible for implementing an interior design plan that was consistent with the previous design and ambience. This continuity has been important to executive management throughout all expansion phases. Thus, special millwork details and interior and exterior design elements from previous phases were utilized throughout the casino, with new designs created for the Cantina restaurant and casino bar, as well as the entertainment and meeting spaces. The design team worked closely with management in developing the design of each area to ensure expectations were met.

The Cantina was incorporated into this recent phase of construction, along with a center bar that has become the focal point of the casino and provides supporting interior elements. A tequila bar, the back wall of the bar was created to emulate an agave plant, a major ingredient in tequila. Series of millwork were used to create offsetting layered triangles, producing 32 individual shelves for displaying unique tequila bottles. The bar top consists of a 2-inch-thick sheet of glass, illuminated by LED panels below. Casey Clark, principal architect of MBA Architecture and Interior Design, considers the Cantina Bar to be one of the most exciting additions, identifying the vaulted ceiling and large custom chandelier above the bar as the most unique design elements inside the casino.

As its vibrant fishing industry is The Cantina Bar
The Cantina Bar
of great importance to the tribe, the theme of water was integral to the project’s design. Throughout the casino, guests encounter custom carpet emulating the movement of water, with salmon incorporated into the design. A chairman’s board room designed especially for Lummi dignitaries showcases Native American artwork completed by Lummi tribal members and custom chairs with the tribe’s insignia. Additional Native American art is displayed throughout the pre-function area. A request for proposals had been created prior to the expansion, inviting Lummi tribal artists to submit their designs, with the executive management team selecting the artist/artwork to be commissioned. The items include a totem pole that depicts the evolution of gambling, a tribal mask, oil paintings, a woven basket made from native grasses and a Sha Hal game, which is a traditional gambling bone-game among all native people.

In keeping with the water theme, a waterfall was created outside the casino. This distinctive feature, developed by COST of Wisconsin, is strategically located along the new driveway entry and across from the porte-cochère of the main casino entry. COST Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Foster explained that his team began by taking the architect’s sketches and developing them into working drawings, including all lighting, mechanical and filtration systems. “The design intent was developed through the architect’s office and we worked closely with the architect and owner to ensure the water feature would meet their expectations,” Foster said. “We also worked with casino operations staff regarding the mechanical and filtration systems to ensure the system would operate well based on unique water conditions.” Once the drawings were approved, a half-inch scale clay model was constructed to ensure the design met the owner’s and architect’s requests. COST crews were then mobilized to erect all the structural and secondary steel work.

The Silver Reff Casino Waterfall
The Silver Reff Casino Waterfall
Due to high winds in the area, the water feature was designed with several rock outcroppings to protect the taller falls from spilling outside of the containment pond. The result is that the main rock feature stands 10 feet tall with 9-foot primary falls and several secondary falls. Turning over at about 1,000 gallons per minute, the waterfall creates a loud roar that overpowers the parking lot noise. This was done at the owner’s request to ensure that guests would only hear the pleasant rush of the waterfall as they leave the casino. The owner also mandated that the rock used in the water feature resemble indigenous stone to reflect the tribe’s heritage.

The water feature has been a hit with guests. Foster said that on each of his visits to the site he has witnessed patrons paying considerable attention to the waterfall. “[They] have shown tremendous interest in the feature,” he said. “We designed an area within the walkway where casino patrons could view the water and stop for a photo opportunity. While we were doing our punch list, two different groups posed and took photos in front of the water feature within about 20 minutes.”