The Seminole Tribe of Florida took a bit of a gamble embarking on a $115 million fast-track renovation and construction project for its Coconut Creek casino, but it is now cashing in on the rewards. Sustainability informed the design of the casino’s 1.3 million-square-foot garage addition, 126,650-square-foot casino expansion, and 40,000-square-foot renovation, but green design is featured most prominently at the core of Coconut Creek’s public art installment: its sculptural biofiltration wall.
Set among six retention ponds playing host to diverse ecosystems, the casino has the unique opportunity to directly impact the health of its local environment. Designed by Michael Singer Studio, the wall directs water from the ponds and nearby canal down the side of the parking garage and into an irrigation system that feeds the site’s plant life, which includes a host of species both historically meaningful to the Seminole tribe—zamia pumila coontie, a traditional root used for flour, for example—and conducive to flourishing butterfly populations.
Filtering 150,000 gallons of water each day, the system draws water first through the filtration chambers within the wall, then channels it to aquatic gardens, which support the beneficial aerobic bacteria that break down organic impurities in the water. In its final step, ultraviolet and mechanical filters purify the water for reuse.
On top of the garage, a 23-kilowatt photovoltaic array powers the wall’s pumps, filters, and lighting as well as the garage’s lighting, elevators, and electric-car charging stations. “In Florida, your best opportunities for sustainable design have to do with sunlight and water,” says Jess Burts, Seminole’s vice president of construction. “If you can utilize those two elements, there is a lot of room to be imaginative.”
The casino’s interior provided fewer opportunities by the nature of its age—some parts of the property are 15 years old—but LED lighting replaced less efficient fixtures, old plumbing was changed out for water-efficient fixtures, and a new HVAC system was installed to efficiently handle the demand Florida’s warm and humid climate puts on the facility.
Three of the building’s exterior walls were torn down during renovation, which lasted eight months, and two new ones were constructed. All the while, guests were able to enjoy the casino’s amenities uninterrupted. Upon completion, the award-winning NYY Steak restaurant, the casino’s 1,200-seat entertainment venue, pavilion, and more than 32,000 square feet of retail space enhanced the experience. Most importantly, Coconut Creek, which was not submitted for LEED certification but followed many of its guidelines, is serving as Seminole’s sustainability showpiece.