Philadelphia’s first and only casino, SugarHouse, designed by Cope Linder Architects and opened in 2010 has enjoyed some four million visitors per year. Cope Linder Architects continued its involvement from original master planning and inception through an ambitious $164 million expansion that opened in late summer 2016. The expansion adds 152,000 sf of gaming, entertainment, and dining venues to the facility and continues the master plan north along the Delaware River with an extended public waterfront promenade and seven-story parking garage. A dramatic and dynamic lighted public art installation accents the contemporary exterior facing the main thoroughfare frontage.
As the second major phase of the master plan, the SugarHouse expansion added parking for 1,500 vehicles in a new seven-story garage, five new dining options including Hugo’s Frog Bar and Chop House operated by renowned Gibson’s of Chicago with a riverfront terrace and outdoor seating, a 10,000-sf concert and event venue, a 6,000-sf dedicated poker room featuring 28 tables, and expanded gaming options with a new high limits lounge, plus 44 new tables and 289 new slots.
Cope Linder Architects worked closely with the City of Philadelphia Planning Commission to realize aspirations for the larger waterfront plan with understated contemporary architecture and keen attention to the public domain. As one of the largest privately owned waterfront parcels in the city, the SugarHouse site offers landscaped outdoor pedestrian and biking pathways planned to one day connect to riverfront points north and south. In addition to coordinating the efforts of 15+ consultants, the Cope Linder design team worked in concert with two highly creative interior design firms, CLEO and DMAC, to craft diverse gaming and dining choices for patrons.
“Working closely with ownership and their advisors, we think of ourselves as conductors of an orchestra,” said Principal Ian Cope. “It’s critically important within a large mixed-use entertainment destination such as SugarHouse, which is really comprised of multiple venues, that each venue project its own distinct character, brand, and experience. That’s almost impossible to pull off without engaging multiple design talents to imbue the project with the richness and diversity that guests demand.”
Local environmental artist, Lyn Godley, created the colorful light box display on the façade as part of the City of Philadelphia’s Public Art Program. Dichroic, film-laced glass light boxes and dynamic, computer-programmed LED lights are electronically controlled to change colors based on time of day, season, or for special events.
The Cope Linder Architects team included principal leadership of Ian Cope and Stan Cairns, AIA, LEED AP, along with project manager Jim Shomper. Working in tandem with owner’s representatives, Development Management Associates LLC of Chicago and Keating Consulting of Philadelphia, Cope Linder led the collaborative consultant team including CLEO Design (casino and ballroom interior design), DMAC Architecture, PC (restaurants interior design), ENTRO (environmental graphics), Conspectus (specifications writing), The Harman Group (structural engineering), VDA (vertical transportation), The Lighting Practice (exterior lighting design), The Ruzika Company, Inc. (casino and dining venue lighting design), Giovanetti-Shulman Associates (MEP engineering), TimHaahs (parking structure design), Equipment Dynamics, Inc. (food services design), JME Hospitality (food services consulting), M. Malia & Associates (surveillance), and Metropolitan Acoustics (acoustic design). Additional consultants working directly for ownership included Urban Engineers (site/civil/marine engineering), McClymont & Rak Geotechnical Engineers, LLC (geotechnical engineering), Illuminating Concepts (lighting procurement), Morris Architects Planners (event space planning), and artist Lyn Godley (public art). Skanska USA was the general contractor.