Vegas meets Switzerland in Zürich’s first and only casino, the recently completed Swiss Casinos Zürich, designed by internationally acclaimed architect Paul Steelman. With design and décor that reflects the glitz and glamour of a contemporary Las Vegas casino, while still maintaining simple Swiss elegance, Swiss Casinos Zürich is the perfect locale for anyone visiting or living in such a modern multicultural hub.
It was only two years ago that Switzerland’s largest city became eligible for a casino. In May 2010, the Swiss Federal Gaming Commission announced that two casino licenses would be available—one each in Neuchâtel and Zürich. Applications were accepted from the end of June through December, and following a six-month review process, it was announced that Swiss Casinos Holding AG’s project had won the contract for the sole Zürich license. Swiss Casinos wasted no time getting started, and renovation work began at the Haus Ober shortly after. Fourteen months later on Nov. 1, Zürich’s first casino—and Switzerland’s largest—opened its doors.
When approaching the project, Steelman Partners LLP—working as both architect and designer—had no particular theme in mind but, rather, a goal. Paul Steelman, CEO of the firm, explains, “Our design criteria covered the following: to create the visual excitement of Las Vegas, create an interior that fits the diversity of a three-language culture and have a casino that is both flamboyant, yet conservative.”
In order to bring the drama and impact of Sin City to the Swiss city, Steelman Partners used elements that evoke a Vegas vibe, such as the color red and crystal accents. Aiming to make patrons still feel close to Zürich, the firm adapted the Vegas look with Swiss influences, adding classic European elegance. As Steelman put it, “It’s all in good taste, which is very Swiss.”
One would think that creating a casino within an existing commercial structure would pose a challenge, but Steelman Partners did not see this as an issue. Steelman says the firm approached the planning for the Swiss Casinos Zürich as they do almost every project. He shares: “As we embark on our projects, we listen carefully to our clients’ requirements then offer our design assistance with regard to creating an even better project. The ownership team at Swiss Casinos is very experienced and operates many casinos, and so for each section of responsibility (architecture planning, interior design and lighting design) we were sure to pay close attention to the details they specified.”
Steelman Partners took an approach to the renovation that was convenient for their customer, ensuring that the construction of the casino would not interfere with other activities in the Haus Ober. The space for the casino is small, but the firm planned the location of its various areas in a way that piques the curiosity of guests, encouraging them to explore the entire facility. Guests can easily make their way through the grand lobby and atrium, and across the floor to the stunning slot or table games areas. Players have a lot to choose from, as the casino’s two floors house 26 gaming tables and about 400 gaming machines.
Those eager for high-stakes action in a relaxed atmosphere can find what they’re looking for in the beautiful Club Privé, a private area with its own table games and slot machines. Guests who wish to have a drink or see some entertainment can take a break in the entertainment lounge, or visit one of the several casino bars strategically placed about the property. And smokers can also be comfortable as there are designated smoking areas throughout the casino.
Reflecting an increasing architectural commitment to environmental responsibility, Steelman Partners and Swiss Casinos Holding AG chose to use components that make the property more sustainable. The casino itself was incorporated into an existing structure, instead of being built from scratch. LED energy-saving lights and other Swiss techniques for energy saving were installed. And due to its location—close to popular haunts and numerous rail stations—the casino can easily be reached by foot or mass transit. The property also boasts unique new innovations; an air evacuation system for the smoking areas helps rid the casino of harmful tobacco particles, and lighting advancements were used to increase light quality.
While every bit of Swiss Casinos Zürich is outstanding, certain aspects do stand out among the rest. The glass stairways and chandelier at the entrance are favorites, and for good reason. These beautiful, elegant structures create an aura of anticipation and set the tone of the entire casino. No guest will be able to miss the Sin City spark in the ornate glass structures or the Swiss simplicity in their design.
There is also consensus that the casino’s location adds to the property. Close to the lively Bahnhofstrasse—the center of the commercial district in Switzerland—and Altstadt—the beautiful historic part of Zürich—there is no doubt that the casino is perfectly situated to get the attention of tourists and residents alike. The location also impacted the design as Steelman Partners wanted to be sure that the casino fit in the context of its environment. Steelman explains: “We design each casino in accordance with an exact assessment of the urban context and the general tastes of the customers. Swiss Casinos Zürich is a tasteful, exciting casino design that fits into the urban context of Zürich and within the commercial structure of the city. It is not a casino to dominate an existing urban fabric, but one designed to complement it.”