Background and Context
Since the creation of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) in 2006, Navajo Nation has developed four gaming properties in New Mexico and Arizona, the first of which was Fire Rock Casino near Gallup, NM. Being the first gaming property established on Navajo land, the design team for Fire Rock was tasked with developing a casino property that embraces a commitment to cultural heritage while also becoming a great source of revenue for the community to use as a stepping stone to build additional properties.
Early in the design and proposal process, JCJ Architecture partnered with Dyron Murphy Architects, a Navajo-owned design firm, to better collaborate with and understand the tribal sensitivities and complexities that were an inherent aspect of this project. This joint team worked together to design a facility that represents and respects Navajo ideals and captures the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains. The narrative behind the design embraces the spiritual mountains, incorporating the rising sun, Mt. Blanca; midday, Mt. Taylor; setting sun, Mt. San Francisco; and evening, Mt. Hesperus. Each of these mountains is represented by a distinct color within the architecture: white, turquoise, abalone shell, and black.
To reduce cost and minimize the build time, the Tribe decided to build a sprung structure. The simplicity in this construction method allowed the design team to allocate a significant amount of the budget to advancing architectural and interior solutions. As such, the story of the Navajo Nation was able to be thoughtfully depicted though details, materials, finishes and furniture selections.
Setting the tone of liveliness through native design, the interior carpets feature vibrant colors that immediately welcome and summon arriving guests. These colorful finishes guide guests through the space, encouraging excitement and directing traffic toward revenue generating program areas. At the focal point of the interior, visitor circulation culminates at a hearth, reflective of the surrounding stone mesas. The hearth features terrazzo floors, patterned in a graphic representation of each of the four mountains and embraces the history of the Navajo. A final gathering space, inspired by the Navajo Council, allows all members sit in equal status, at a large round, black granite, communal table within the dining and lounge area.
They brought years of experience and [have] proven sensitivity of Native culture to each of their projects, which have been amazing. Their work speaks for itself.
- Bob Winter, Chief Executive Officer
Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise