Huge soaring eagles flank the mammoth mall-like entrance to the casino with the largest gaming floor in Michigan, beckoning gamblers to the place that offers more than half the gambling action statewide. As the Soaring Eagle Hotel and Conference Center was under construction, the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribal Council called in Dow Howell Gilmore to design its completion. With most of the building's shell up, it had terminated its contract with the previous designer and construction management.
The seven-story, 512-room resort hotel and conference center attaches itself to the enormous gambling casino. The architects completed the interior design following the wishes of the tribe to provide a top-quality hotel reflective of the Anishinabe culture. Lobby seating, the indoor pool, and the dining room overlook a landscaped garden plaza to the west that is removed from the casino, rather than overlook parking. The interior employs indigenous materials—copper, iron, cherry wood, and dolomite stone. Tribal symbolism and woodland Indian motifs abound in the interior fabrics and light fixtures. All is enhanced with Native American sculpture, beadwork, artifacts, and paintings.
Casino gambling profits enabled the tribe to open the resort. And gambling revenues have financed subsidized housing, treatment for substance abuse and other health care needs, a newspaper, police and fire departments, and economic development. Each adult member shares in tribal benefits.