The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa combines a variety of services under one roof. Despite the delineation of space, however, the design unifies the complex by establishing an overall atmosphere that project designer Scott Hatton with Lighting Design Alliance describes as 'fun, upscale, energetic, international and sensual.' Lighting treatments unique to each facility are the primary instrument in creating dining, registration and gaming areas that are at once distinct spaces and part of an entertaining whole.

Unlike many casinos, the Borgata's interior layout allows visitors to enjoy the hotel's offerings without traversing the gaming floor, which while visible from the lobby, is a secondary view to the three Chihuly glass sculptures in the forefront. AR111 accent lights bring the dynamic sculptures to life, while concealed 2400K neon traces the ceiling details in the lobby and registration areas. 'The idea was to get the warm incandescent color without using the typical lamp sources that are three inches on center. It was a maintenance thing.' A passageway featuring dramatically illuminated groin vaults bisects and surrounds the perimeter of the central gaming floor. In-grade fixtures and low-voltage striplights concealed in the column capitals uplight the juncture of arches and vaults, emphasizing this architectural form and, in the process, setting the passageway and casino apart from the surrounding areas. Ambient light on the casino floor is also provided by concealed orange-colored neon.

The registration area's design highlight is a bank of eight vertical waterwalls that are illuminated by an intricate arrangement of lighting treatments. 'These niches were challenging because we had many different effects crammed into a small area,' says Hatton. Each waterwall is illuminated by nine ETC Source 4 fixtures: three fitted with scrollers for alternating color, three with gobos for a break-up effect, and three with film loops projecting fire and water-ripple patterns. A total of 72 Source 4s are C-clamped to a pipe mounted along a soffit set 12 feet into the circulation space behind the wall. At night, preprogrammed effects animate the panels. In addition to the Source 4 luminaires, custom fiber optic extrusions with a 4-degree beam reveal the cascading water from above and below the niches. Three uplights positioned at the base of each niche, and two cove lights concealed vertically in the columns, sidelight a sheer drape that is pulled across the waterwalls during the day.

The Music Box Theater, used for small shows, was similar to the water walls in its complexity. The design called for many point sources in an easily maintainable arrangement. Manufacturer Tokistar developed 2-foot-square panels with four RGB LEDs poking through each panel; at the panel's perimeter, there is a quick-connect that snaps into the next panel. The lighting treatment also includes the same custom fiber optic fixture used on the water wall; it grazes light over the LED panels, which have a textured finish. A third light layer is provided by low-voltage track fixtures.

As one judge noted, 'The project management alone on Borgata is impressive.' Hatton, who spent a month at the site just aiming lights and setting dimming levels, agrees that it was a lesson in coordination. 'The fixture schedule gets so long, and there are so many different spaces, there ends up being a lot of revisions. All kinds of RFIs, questions and coordination issues come out of that.' The complexity of the project makes the success of its lighting design that much more impressive. A|L


Project Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Lighting design Lighting Design Alliance, Los Angeles

Architecture BLT/CLA, Philadelphia

Interior Design Dougall Design Associates, Pasadena, California

Electrical Engineer Giovanetti Shulman Associates, Broomall, Pennsylvania

Photographer Scott Francis

Project size 135,000 square feet (casino); 70,000 (event space); 50,000 (spa)

Watts per square foot NA

Installation cost NA

Manufacturers Aqua Creations, Color Kinetics, ETC, GAM, Glass Illuminations, Targetti, Lumascape, Lightolier, Lutron, Modular, Tokistar, Wybron

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