From a three-story hotel to a steamship inspired casino, this transformation takes you back in time to the gold rush days. Drawing on the story of Billy Barker, the town prospector during the gold rush, and steamships, a large part of this quaint town’s rich history; this building has become a piece of art through the transformation of a 1960’s hotel with unusable balconies and small hotel windows into a steamship inspired casino.
Turning this piece of town history that spanned an entire block into the Billy Barker Casino posed many challenges. Most casinos have a huge public space for entertaining, but we could not add that space into an existing building with less than the required fire ratings on existing walls, floors, and ceilings. As a compromise the casino was incorporated into the ground level and the basement utilized for the back of house functions with roll down fire doors creating the smaller spaces necessary to meet fire code requirements. One side of the building was modified to look like an old steamship with the unusable balconies as the boat decks, and the front was designed to resemble the bow of a ship. The remaining existing old buildings in the block were also incorporated into the architecture, contributing to the illusion of a steamship moored adjacent to old buildings along a pier. To complete the steamship image, a wheelhouse was added to the roof of the building with a real smoking smokestack and a paddle wheel where elite clients of the casino are invited to revel in the view. This design has made the casino a major tourist attraction in the city.
As with all of our projects, sustainable design practices drove the design solution we choose and are demonstrated throughout the project including the adaption and reuse of an existing building; the intensification of the urban experience through the addition of street interest and outdoor café seating; the installation of a more efficient HVAC system to save energy; and the utilization of durable selections for the interior and the exterior based on criteria of long lasting use and low maintenance.