Flashing lights on gaming machines typically characterize the otherwise dimly lit interiors of casinos, but not so with this 66,000-square-foot addition at the Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway in Yonkers, N.Y. Instead, Studio V Architecture, working with Tillotson Design Associates (TDA), aimed to rethink and reinvent the casino typology—or at least the typology’s approach to lighting.
Daylight streams into the casino entry through a 45-foot-tall low-E glass façade that curves in a gentle 300-foot arc along its entrance road, providing a backdrop to the casino’s porte-cochere canopy. And it’s this 200-foot-long arched canopy, which takes its organic form from the hilltop surrounds—comprised of structural steel that supports ETFE pillows with embedded RGB LEDs on synchronized controls—that plays the part of the “Learning from Las Vegas” roadside signifier.
The 24-hour nature of gaming also meant that the lighting designers needed to develop a lighting scheme that required little to no maintenance. It also meant finding a way to illuminate the dramatic canopy so that the LED sources wouldn’t interfere with driver’s sight lines at night. The complex curvature of the system translated to individually customized profiles for each row of ETFE-illuminating stem-mounted LEDs, which sit 12 inches above the frame. At intersections in the steel canopy structure, dimmable white LED downlights are positioned to illuminate the driveway. Pole-mounted metal halide floodlights extend from the roof over the top edge of the glass façade, washing it with even white light that contrasts with the coloring of the lit ETFE membranes of the canopy. An interior LED cove highlights the façade curvature from within the casino.
The result of these lighting strategies is a structure that beckons to potential gaming enthusiasts not with a busy array of lights, but with an undulating glow from which even Las Vegas could learn.
There’s an incredible subtlety of transition.
The canopy has the resplendence of a moth wing.
Project Yonkers Casino, Yonkers, N.Y.
Entrant Tillotson Design Associates
Architect Studio V Architecture, New York
Lighting Designer Tillotson Design Associates, New York
Team Members Suzan Tillotson, Ellen Sears, Mitul Parekh, Kate Nelson
Photographer Paul Warchol Photography
Project Size 66,000 square feet
Project Cost $45 million
Lighting Cost Withheld
Watts per Square Foot Not available
Code Compliance Not available
Manufacturers 1212 Studio, HK Lighting Group, Philips Color Kinetics
To see all of the other winners of the 2014 AL Light & Architecture Design Awards, click here.