December 20, 2001
NEW BARGE MOUNTED CASINO FOR
Harrah’s Joliet, Illinois
Harrah’s recently opened a new barge mounted casino at their Joliet, Illinois property on the Des Plaines River near Chicago. The building on a barge replaces two USCG certified vessels that have been at the facility since 1993, the m/v NORTHERN STAR, a cruise-ship type vessel, and m/v SOUTHERN STAR, a sternwheeler. The barges for the new facility were designed by DeJong & Lebet, Inc., Naval Architects, Jacksonville, Florida. DeJong & Lebet, Inc. also designed the two casino vessels that were replaced by the barge-mounted casino.
The casino is actually mounted on two barges, which were built at Halter Marine in Port Bienville, Mississippi. Each barge measures approximately 200’x100’x16’. The barges are constructed of steel, except for the Main Deck, which is a 10½” thick concrete slab. This design technique was developed by DeJong & Lebet, Inc. to reduce construction costs by eliminating the steel deck plate since a concrete deck is required even with a steel deck.
Architects for the building project were Dale and Associates, Jackson, Mississippi. Major design subcontractors were Martin and Peltyn (structural), FEA Mechanical Engineers, RHR Consulting (electrical), Thompson Engineering (basin-civil), Dougall Design (interior), and Rogina Associates (civil). The contractor for the building construction on the barge was C. Rallo Contractors, Saint Louis, Missouri.
The barge facility is certified to meet the stability and bulkheading requirements of the Illinois State Gaming Regulations. Third party certification services were provided by Applied Material Technologies, Wheaton, Illinois.
The installation sequence of the casino barge facility was a challenging design problem for the design team. The goal was to keep the casino open while installing the barges and removing the boats. The casino construction was mostly completed off-site up the river from Joliet. The casino had temporary walls installed so the barges could be separated. The barges were then separated and the first half moved down the river to Joliet.
One boat was removed while the other boat remained open. The first barge was installed in the open space and that half was open for business. The second barge was pushed down the river and installed in the second boat location after the second boat was removed. The second barge opened for business and the temporary walls were removed. Both barges were now open, except where the final connections were made. Once the barge connecting was complete, the entire 200’x200’ casino building opened as a unit.
The entire sequence took approximately fourteen days.
The casino is one level with very high ceilings. The seamless passage from the land-based support building and nearly square configuration of the casino create the feel of a land-based casino, which is very appealing to the guests.
Harrah’s Joliet is the twenty-first building/barge type casino project with Marine Engineering by DeJong & Lebet, Inc.. These include barge-mounted casinos, boarding barges, auditoriums and entertainment centers in Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois.