FireKeepers Casino Hotel & Event Center:
Structural Services


IMEG provided structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering design and services, as well as architectural lighting, for the expansion of the existing FireKeepers Casino. The new 170,000-sf, eight-story, mixed-used hotel, event center, and casino expansion located in Battle Creek, MI, is comprised of 243 guestrooms, seven stories of hotel tower atop a new restaurant and bar, commercial kitchen area, pool and leisure spa, fitness and business centers, grand entrance lobby, casino gaming floor, and laundry services. The attached 25,000-sf event center consists of a performance stage, ballroom, and multi-use assembly spaces. The existing bingo hall was expanded an additional 25,000-sf for a back-of-house garage/storage area. The design team met a very aggressive schedule, and the design was drawn entirely in Revit 3D modeling software.

The hotel tower structural system selected was a cast-in-place concrete flat slab for all floors, along with the ground floor above the basement level, to accommodate the low floor-to-floor height and the desired high ceilings in the high-end presidential suites. The roof structure was also a concrete flat with no interior beams to support the tall “fin” structure that tops the hotel tower and resembles the flame effect leading to the FireKeepers logo. The main challenge was keeping the slab thickness as thin as possible with wider bay size to allow floor flexibility and accommodate the wider guest rooms. The lateral loads imposed a challenge due to the open floor layout. As a result, concrete shear walls along with both stair towers were used as shear walls to resist wind and seismic forces. Due to the high loads from the concrete tower, a deep foundation system composed of straight shaft concrete caissons were used bearing on competent bed rock to transfer those forces to the ground.

The event center structure is a steel frame utilizing long span steel joists to span the entire width of the building. The main challenge was to have a column-free space for over 120 feet long span. Specific loading criteria was set at the folding partitions supporting members to limit the total deflection to fit a very tight tolerance and the client’s specifications. Special connections were identified and detailed to allow for the roof structure to deflect independent from the folding partitions supporting members.

The porte cochere structure at the entrance was a challenge due to the three-dimensional aspect and geometry. A BIM model was created to simulate the final geometry and was provided to the steel fabricator for final detailing.

Another challenge with the new casino addition was the new foundations next to the existing building foundations. A concrete grade beam system was established to eliminate any induced soil pressure from the new foundations onto the existing footings and eliminating the need for underpinning or shoring of the existing structure. A new warehouse structure was designed next to the existing building with a separation joint to allow for independent movement between the new construction and the existing building.