ARTICLE BY CSE MAGAZINE Exploring complex hotels, resorts, and casinos

Casinos and resorts are designed for fun and relaxation, but with such projects becoming increasingly complex and high-tech, engineers charged with tackling these structures have challenging work ahead of them.

Brant Dillon, Director of MEP, Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis Matt Dolan, PE, LEED AP, Senior Design Engineer, Southland Industries, Las Vegas Jeffrey S. Grove, PE, Director, JENSEN HUGHES, Las Vegas Ronald R. Regan, PE, Principal, Triad Consulting Engineers Inc., Morris Plains, N.J. Mark Richter, PE, LEED AP, Partner, National Residential & Hospitality Practice Leader, AKF Group LLC, New York City Gregory K Shino, PE, Technical Director of Fire Protection Engineering, NV5, Las Vegas Toby White, PE, LEED AP, Associate, Sr. Fire Engineer, Arup, Boston

CSE: What’s the biggest trend you see today in hotel, resort, and casino projects?

Brant Dillon: There has been a large increase in the amount of low- to midlevel hotels coming into the marketplace. These hotels are usually around 250 keys and have a very tight budget to meet the developer’s financial performance. As such, increased demand for an economical design that meets both performance and brand standards has made us look for new HVAC solutions.

Matt Dolan: Depending on the project location, there have been changes in space programming that move away from gaming as the main source of revenue and bring out more entertainment and dining opportunities, which widen guests’ options and improve their experience. These include nightclubs, restaurants, sporting-event and music venues, and conference spaces. For life safety system designs, we have seen a reduction in active smoke control designs/systems and the removal of hoistway venting for elevators in hotel towers. Prior to the 2012 International Building Code (IBC), pressurization-method active smoke control was common for guest room-tower corridors as defined under IBC Section 909. Section 403.4.7 of the IBC 2012 edition brought about the requirements and applications for post-fire salvage, which allowed the guest room-tower corridors to use this passive salvage method (after the fire is extinguished) in lieu of active methods. Post-fire salvage removes some of the testing and commissioning complexity found in active smoke control systems and associated pressure measurements at the zone boundaries. Several recent tower designs within the United States have used post-fire salvage, while towers in Macau maintain the active smoke control system designs and testing.

Jeffrey S. Grove: We see the audio/video (A/V) experience of these types of properties increasing to include large LED screens, music, virtual reality, and natural lighting to give the end user a unique experience for each new property. With these new experiences come fire protection challenges as various combustible materials (e.g., plastic, fabrics) are introduced.

Ronald R. Regan: We are seeing interest in and requirements for renewable, eco-friendly, and sustainable design and installations. These requests in the mainland United States tend to be more passive in requests—more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, solar for incidental requirements, gardens, walkways, water features, etc. Offshore Caribbean sites, which are to be eco-friendly, also feature a major economic and resiliency aspect. We’re seeing larger solar content with storage, solar thermal systems, and in the past 18 months, more emphasis on gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) for resiliency and to offset local-utility capacity deficiencies to ensure 24/7 power at any cost.