Music: “Crazy In Love” Original song by Beyoncé, Cover by Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra. For educational purposes only.

Chicago Grandé Casino

The Chicago Grandé Casino is a project for my Themed Entertainment Design graduate studies program at SCAD. The challenge was to create a themed environment and I chose to create a casino located in Chicago themed to the Roaring 20s. It is a three story Art Deco structure with a speakeasy (called The Blind Tiger), a theater (called Années Folles) and a massive sculpture anchoring the entire environment.

We were asked to put together a power point presentation and present our projects in class, so I imagined mine as a design pitch to a client who was shopping their casino around to different design houses. Since I knew everyone in the class would likely take “power point presentation” quite literally and put together slides with lots of text that they would read, I thought a video teaser with a beat would have more impact. I made sure to present after 2/3 of the class had gone, once the “audience” had settled into the routine of one 20 minute presentation after another, making my project a surprising and welcome departure.

As far as the artwork goes, I decided to go with a very literal photobashing technique where I began with photos and textures and combined them with photo manipulation and digital paint to create the finished product. This is the opposite of my preferred working method where I paint an environment and then overlay photos and textures to enhance the image. This method was very new to me and I made the switch very late in the design process, but it helped get ideas out quickly and also helped to ground the project in reality.

Overview sketch
Lobby sketch Lobby sketch Theater sketch Theater sketch Entryway sketch Entryway sketch

Concept Development

Initially the casino was to be located in the heart of downtown Chicago along the Magnificent Mile, a prestigious section of Chicago's Michigan Avenue. The area was attractive because of the mixture of upscale department stores, restaurants, luxury retailers, and various amenities catering to both tourists and the affluent alike. The Chicago Grandé Casino would be located near the Michigan Avenue Bridge at the origin point of the Magnificent Mile and surrounded by four 1920s era skyscrapers: Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, 333 North Michigan and London Guarantee Building.

exterior surrounding architecture

Based on feedback from professors and Chicago residents, I was encouraged to change my location to something somewhat more reasonable. The proposed site for the Chicago Grandé Casino then became Northerly Island in downtown Chicago, former site of Meigs Field. The location offers stunning views of the city, a world-class entertainment venue (Charter One Pavilion), and is minutes from the heart of the city which sees 46 Million visitors per year.

exterior entry
main casino floor
Statue sketch
Annees Folles Theater
Blind Tiger Speakeasy entrance
Blind Tiger Speakeasy
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