Guest Blog: Casino Design, Sustainability, and Community Linkages: Requiring Excellence for Massachusetts Casinos

By the Mass. Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA MA):

The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA MA) has prepared a White Paper to help the Gaming Commission establish design, sustainability, and community criteria to evaluate gaming license applications on design excellence, integration with the community, and advancing sustainable development.  John Nunnari and Julie Taylor, AIA MA representatives, met today with the Commission to discuss the White Paper that they presented to the Commission on January 30, 2013.

The White Paper recommends: (1) 20 criteria the Commission might adopt as  Design, Sustainability, and Community Standards (these Standards include the state Gaming Statute requirements, and are intended to be compatible with local and state requirements); and (2) a Design Review Process (this Review Process will be the major tool to ensure the casino developments will comply with the Commission’s design, sustainability, and community criteria, and would closely coordinate with local and state reviews). 

Both the Standards and the Design Review Process, if adopted by the Commission, would be used to initially select three casinos from the applicants and to oversee the design and development of each casino project.

The 20 criteria are grouped in several categories:  overall design excellence, integration into surroundings, and tourism appeal (including enhancing the scenic beauty and historic features of the areas surrounding the casino); LEED (the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) and sustainable materials; energy (use of renewable energy, energy-efficient equipment, monitoring and improving energy efficiency, implementing district heating and cooling systems); community impacts (signage, lighting, noise, and community benefits and amenities); water conservation and minimizing stormwater impacts; monitoring and improving on-going operations in terms of energy and other impacts (post-occupancy commissioning); climate resiliency and availability as a community resource in extreme weather; and minimizing traffic impacts, maximizing public transit options, and considering vehicle circulation, garages, and pedestrian access.

The White Paper also highlights key points on design, sustainability, and community linkages from presentations by AIA MA, the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA) at a “Forum on Design Excellence for Massachusetts Casinos” held at the BSA on December 12, 2012.  A transcript of the Forum is available at .

The three casinos that will be developed in Massachusetts present a unique opportunity to create a new model for casinos – a new standard of excellence in design, sustainability, and community linkages.  The Commission is required by the gaming statute to issue regulations and has broad authority to evaluate casino proposals.  Massachusetts is not Las Vegas.  The Commission can require design standards and a review process to help create three casino projects with high quality design – design that fits the scale and character of our cities and landscapes, strengthens local communities by responding to community needs and resources, and results in casino operations that meet high but achievable sustainability criteria (including renewable energy, energy efficiency, minimal stormwater, and climate resiliency).  

The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Institute of Architects welcomes the opportunity to meet with the Commission or staff to discuss recommendations in our White Paper or related issues.  

Contact John Nunnari, Executive Director of AIA MA at 617- 951-1433 x263 or for more information.

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