Minneapolis-based Design Firm Guides Hotel Vision to Reality

personal-profile-john-cullingan.jpgDesigns on a promising future
John Culligan’s job involves telling stories – not with words, but with shapes, lines and colors. 

As Principal for Minneapolis-based Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc., Culligan and his team are designing the Potawatomi Bingo Casino Hotel, slated for groundbreaking in July.

Culligan’s firm has worked on many other casino hotel resort projects –including gaming facilities in Biloxi, MS, Albuquerque, NM, and Atlantic City. He’s quick to point out that each of these projects presents a unique opportunity. 

“Cuningham Group believes every building tells a story,” Culligan said. “Every client’s story is unique and represents their culture, their community, and their location. We work collaboratively with a client to transform their special stories into one-of-a-kind environments that differentiate them from their competition.”


Investing in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley
The Forest County Potawatomi have quite a story to share when it comes to their investment in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley. In just more than two decades, the property has gone from a simple bingo hall to one of the largest tribally owned casinos in the country. In January, the Tribe announced that it would be making another $150 million investment by adding a hotel to the property.

Prior to any ground being turned for the project, Culligan and Cuningham Group have been hard at work translating the Tribe’s ideas and vision for their hotel into sketches the community has become familiar with. 

“Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s design team decided early on to create a modern, iconic hotel tower that will stand out along the Milwaukee skyline” said Culligan. “It will welcome guests from afar – those traveling along I-43 and I-94 as well as those flying into Milwaukee. The tower rooftop will be illuminated with large letters spelling out “POTAWATOMI” that once seen in the distance will trigger a guest’s sense of anticipation that will culminate when they enter the Resort’s front doors.”

A mix of tradition, history and geography
In addition, the hotel’s exterior will reflect the rich tradition of the Milwaukee area as well as its geography. “The base of the hotel pays homage to the historic brick and stone character of Milwaukee, the Menomonee Valley and the existing Casino. In addition, the fresh, transparent glass tower rises from the hotel’s masonry base and reflects Lake Michigan’s shimmery waves on a sunny day.”

Culligan added that the Tribe’s culture and nature are woven into the design. “We created a second conical glass rotunda similar to the one overlooking the Casino’s Grand Lobby that will house a special meeting room and offers great views of downtown Milwaukee. This feature and the proposed modern glass “flame” at the top of the tower references the Forest County Potawatomi’s role as the “Fire Keepers.” The interior design will offer a natural, warm and colorful palette that will complement the existing Casino. The lobby feel will seem like walking through a forest where sunlight streams through a canopy of colorful leaves.”

While developing even the smallest details, Culligan and his team always remember that, “Casino Hotel Resorts are all about entertainment. We strive to build guest anticipation before they arrive and then deliver on that promise with “Big Wows” they will only experience at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino Resort!”

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