When Denver, Colo.-based WORTHGROUP Architects approached the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs about designing the tribe’s proposed casino in Warm Springs, Ore., they were told the finished property should incorporate an important tribal motif-the Columbia River’s Celilo Falls Fishing Platforms ancestors utilized to catch salmon with long-handled dip nets. The falls and platforms were destroyed when the Columbia River was dammed in the 1930s.

“These are Tribes that are reaching back to identify themselves with their history,” said Jim Mickey, AIA, WORTHGROUP principal and project executive. “The initial concept of incorporating those falls into the architecture was adopted very quickly by the client, and gave us a lot of inspiration and guidance along the way.”

The finished product-the Indian Head Casino-opened for business in February. The $13.5 million, 20,000-square-foot facility has an 18,000-square-foot gaming space with 500 slot and video poker machines and eight blackjack tables. The fishing platforms became abstract 30-foot tall sculptural elements that were incorporated into the property’s façade. River, fishing and other tribal design elements were also utilized in the casino’s interior design.

The good news-the resort has been an economic as well as design success. “Our players club enrollment has increased by over 3000 individuals since opening on February 4, with the greater majority of them coming from the Central Oregon market,” said Ken Billingsley, general manager of Indian Head Casino. “We hope to expand our customer base to include all of Central Oregon and to the people from the Portland area.”