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Motor City Casino

Arconic Architectural Products

In its heyday, Detroit, Michigan was known as The Motor City. It was the birthplace of grand automobiles featuring sleek styling and a modern attitude. With visions of chrome detailing and muscle cars in mind, the owner of Detroit’s Motor City Casino commissioned Giffels LLC. of Southfield, MI, to design a new entertainment venue for Detroit that would capture the essence and vitality that once characterized the city. Working in conjunction with NORR Limited Architects and Engineers, the project team brought in an award-winning automotive designer, Chip Foose, as a consultant on the project to add a bit of retro automotive flare to the design.

“Our client requested a design that would be characterized as distinctly Detroit,” said Frank Panici, OAA, principal of NORR Limited the Executive Architects for the project. “We chose to build upon the Motor City connection to create an aesthetic that celebrates the era of the American car.”

The completed Motor City Casino complex is comprised of four buildings linked by bridges on the second floor: the casino, food and beverage building, the convention center and a stand-alone hotel. “Reynobond® ACM was selected to reinforce our concept – the play between the old and the new,” Panici said. On the façade of the Casino building, whichh was originally a bread bakery, the architects created a three-dimensional “grille” by alternating ACM panels on the old brick façade. Single skin stainless steel sheeting was used to create the rounded and flared roofline mimicking the sleek lines prevalent in 1950’s auto detailing.

Part new construction and part retrofit, the $300 million, 1.1 million sq. ft. complex seamlessly blends the existing Continental and Casino, which is housed in the historic Wagner Baking Company--a Wonder Bread bakery originally constructed in 1915--with the newly built hotel, bridge and valet buildings. The work was done in stages over a three-year period – from July 2006 to final completion in January 2009, while the Casino continued to operate.

The Riverside Group of Windsor Ontario fabricated 82,000 square feet of 4mm Reynobond ACM, with a PE Core in a Valspar Champagne Metallic finish for all light bands on the Casino, Hotel and Valet buildings. Additionally, 45,000 square feet of 4mm Reynobond® Natural Brushed Aluminum, with a PE core in a clear Valspar finish was incorporated on all façades of the Continental, Casino and Valet buildings, on the entrance canopies and the column covers. MiG Construction of Detroit, MI served as the General Contractor for the project.

The flared roofline of the casino required precise engineering. “At the curved areas that interface with the light bands (pleats) there were definitely challenges,” said Stuart Salonen, production manager of The Riverside Group. “Basically you have a chevron-shaped panel that meets up to a radius. The only way to determine the precise size and shape of this end condition was to recreate a 3D model incorporating all of the site dimensions and then unfold it for CNC cutting from flat ACM sheets. The 2D ACM shapes were then meticulously welded together by a group of skilled craftsmen. A variety of additional fabrication processes were utilized to assemble and reinforce the components into their final multi-faceted and curved 3D form.”

The Reynobond ACM and Reynobond Natural Brushed Aluminum materials were selected for the project by the architect and owner after weighing various options from a cost, flatness, formability, manufacturing lead-times and overall aesthetics standpoint.

American Glass & Metals (AGM) of Plymouth, MI installed the architectural composite light bands for the hotel. CL Rieckhoff of Taylor, MI installed the Reynobond® ACM panels on the façades using a galvanized steel sub-framing to set the R4-300 pressure-equalized rainscreen system off of the existing structures.

Charged with the requirement of reducing overall framing cost for the rainscreen cladding system, Riverside Group engineered the chevron-shaped Champagne Metallic light band panels to span from top to bottom without any fixation to intermediate supports. “Since the overall height exceeded the maximum composite sheet width, the light bands were fabricated out of 2 separate panels and unitized together prior to crating and delivery to site,” continued Salonen. ”The unitized section had to be engineered to withstand wind and snow loads which necessitated custom gusset reinforcements on the back side to hold the overall shape together. Due to the massive size, we could only fit 5 of these units in a crate. The crates needed to be constructed in such a way that each light band panel could be removed in the order they would be erected on the building façade. With many hundreds of light bands required, the fact that our firm was a local fabricator (only 15 minutes from the project) allowed the owner to realize additional savings in freight costs alone.”

About Arconic Architectural Products

Arconic-logo-previewArconic Architectural Products manufacturers metal composite material and single-skin metal claddings for use in both exterior and interior applications. For more information, visit

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