Wind-driven, flapper-panel walls create welcoming entrance at California casino

Wind-driven, flapper-panel walls greet guests with movement and illumination at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, California. Photo © Justin Cesler. Photo courtesy of MediaWorks/EXTECH
Wind-driven, flapper-panel walls greet guests with movement and illumination at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, California.
Photo © Justin Cesler. Photo courtesy of MediaWorks/EXTECH

At California’s Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, wind-driven, flapper-panel walls line the drive to the main entrance, greeting guests with movement and illumination. These sculptural feature walls showcase more than 4500 metal flappers.

Owned by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the resort and casino’s entry was envisioned by landscape architect Lifescapes International. Lifescapes’ concept included multiple freestanding columns of light-emitting diode (LED) screens displaying changing visual patterns set in front of a dynamic curtain of flapper-panel walls.

Revealed in September 2020 as part of Morongo’s renovation and expansion, the entry elements combine color, light, sound, and motion. Helping bring this sensory experience to reality, the manufacturing company designed, engineered, and fabricated the kinetic wall system in collaboration with MediaWorks’ installation team.

The kinetic wall system responds to wind currents, creating the appearance of rolling waves across the wall system, said Jim Leslie, general manager at the manufacturing company.

“Each wall spans approximately [18 m] 60 feet, ranges up to [5 m] 15 feet high and curves in two directions,” Leslie said. “Viewed from the side, the walls undulate from concave to convex, and across the top the heights rise and dip to accentuate the waveform.”

Within the wall’s structural framework, the approximately 4500 clear anodized, 152 by 152-mm (6 by 6-in.), aluminum flappers are horizontally suspended on a pin-mount system. The pin-mount suspension system allows the flapper elements to seemingly float in front of the support rungs and side rails as a veil. Finished in black anodize, the framework fades into the background to emphasize the dynamic flappers and their movement.

“Pin-mount has become our default suspension system because it allows for a continuous unbroken ‘surface’ of flappers that minimizes the supporting structure, it accommodates a 90-degree range of motion, and it provides a more economical price point than rod-mount suspensions,” Leslie said.

The pin-mount system also helps save time and labor during the kinetic wall system’s lifespan. If repair or maintenance operations are necessary, the flappers can be removed and replaced without specialized tools. After its life at Morongo Casino, the metal is completely recyclable.

To ensure specified longevity, appearance, and performance, the manufacturing company engineered and fabricated the kinetic wall system in its Pittsburgh factory. The flappers were mounted on their horizontal rungs and then preassembled into 40 sections for easy shipping and installation. Each section was 1397 mm (55 in.) wide and varied from 1524 to 3556 mm (60 to 140 in.) high. Delivered directly to the jobsite, the unitized system saved time and labor costs in the field.

MediaWorks coordinated installation while the casino and resort were fully operational, minimizing disruption to guests and staff. David Coronado, senior vice-president of business operations at MediaWorks said the kinetic wall system was accentuated with solid metal caps outlining the walls’ rolling shape, and the supported ribbons of colorful metal ascending and intertwining above the walls like sculptures in flight.

Morongo Casino Resort & Spa encompasses 18-ha (44 acre) extending to the foothills of the San Gorgonio and San Jacinto mountain ranges. The facility features a contemporary design inspired by the natural allure of its surroundings. The $250-million resort’s 27-story tower is the tallest building in Riverside County. It offers 310 contemporary guest rooms, 14 restaurants and bars, two-story luxury spa, and a 1394-m2 (15,000-sf) conference center.

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