The finished casino; because it occupies an existing building it can be sited close to the water’s edge.
Dynamic lighting animates the interior.
The 1950s railway building in its neglected original state.
Work proceeds on the structure.
Looking at old photographs of the abandoned 1950s CN rail shed near the Blue River Bridge near Sarnia, Ontario, one can hardly imagine it could be transformed into the brightly lit casino that now stands there.
Structural engineers Yolles of Toronto were asked to determine whether the existing steel structure could be refurbished to meet today’s building codes and the proposed new use. Reusing the structure would save costs, time and preserve a local landmark. It also meant that the building could be sited on the edge of the St. Clair River, whereas current rules required that a new building would have to be located well back from the waterfront.
With the help of BKL Engineering of Sarnia, Yolles undertook extensive surveys at the site, including excavations, to document the state of the 215-metre long steel frame.
The roof has a peaked roof and clerestory. Building codes in the 1950s did not take account of roof configurations and uneven snow loads. Yolles concluded, however, that only minor reinforcing was needed to the trusses and purlins to bring them up to meet current codes. They also added diaphragm bracing to the roof to increase the lateral resistance and make up for the removal of the masonry shear cross walls.
The structural engineers also designed a signature tower that architecturally “springs” from the structure with no cross-bracing. It was designed as a separate structure on steel piling supports that transfer its loads to the river wall.
Mechanical and electrical systems
As in any casino, the mechanical systems are formidable in order to cope with the large numbers of patrons who smoke. The air handling units provide 100% fresh air with 4 cfm changes per square foot (in a shopping mall they would be around 1.4 cfm). The units are equipped with thermal heat reclaim enthalpy wheels to reclaim heating or cooling energy from the exhaust air. They can recirculate some of the return air during non-gaming hours to conserve energy. In the gaming and public areas supply air is introduced uniformly at high level above the ceiling web and returned at intermediate level around the perimeter. The mechanical systems are controlled by a direct digital control (DDC) energy management and control system.
Completed for $44 million in 2000, the casino has 450 slot machines and 36 gaming tables and is protected by an advanced security and fire-safety system. It also has an early warning water detection system due to the many water fixtures that are part of the “sunken treasure ship” decor. Lighting plays a major role in animating the interior with a dynamic play of colour and movement using HID fixtures and spotlights.CCE
Client: Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
Structural engineer: Yolles, Toronto (David Watson, P.Eng., Paul Zucchi, P.Eng.)
Civil engineer and survey of existing site: BKL Engineering, Sarnia
Mechanical: Smith and Andersen, Toronto (Karol Goldman, P.Eng.)
Electrical: Carinci Burt Rogers, Toronto (Fred Carinci, P.Eng.)
Architect: Dunlop Architects, Toronto
A brightly lit casino near the Canada-U.S. border near Sarnia, Ontario occupies the skeleton of what was a derelict CN Railway cargo and passenger dock building.