July 16, 2008

Architectural Design at the New Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Reflects the Spirit of Cooperation

Working closely together, the community of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Mohegan Sun Tribe have succeeded in bringing a new level of gaming and entertainment to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. According to Bobby Soper, President and CEO of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, "This spirit of cooperation is the guiding motivation behind the architectural design concept that celebrates Northeastern Pennsylvania, and pays tribute to the community and the Mohegan Tribe."

On approaching Project Sunrise at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs one's attention will be captured by a dramatically lit, 75-foot tall metal torchere atop the building projecting an abstract electric flame representing a Mohegan Tribe smudge pot and torches used to light the Region's coal mines. A "smudge pot" is used in a "smudging" ceremony which is a traditional ritual for spiritual cleansing. In the ceremonial ritual local herbs are burned and the smoke fanned to cleanse and purify the space. Smudging is a ritual way to cleanse a person, place or object of negative energies or influences.

It is more than fitting that a signature architectural feature of Project Sunrise is a 30-foot tall, vertically proportioned sculpture set in the center of the main lobby that pays homage to coal. The sculpture grows from the ground in natural, free-flowing forms seemingly fabricated from coal and as it extends higher it becomes increasingly more refined until it morphs into sparkly, diamond-like crystal forms - creating a direct, but subtle analogy between the natural emergence of diamonds from coal, and the emergence of Project Sunrise at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. "This sculpture," said Mr. Soper, "embraces the history, culture and community of the local area."

The sculpture has been created by the Baut Studio in nearby Swoyersville, Pennsylvania. Established in 1898 and in continuous operation since 1927, the Studio's coterie of artisans and craftsmen includes the fifth generation of the Baut family. Known around the World for their religious and institutional stained glass artwork and higher-end art glass products, the Bauts have designed several pieces of particular local significance including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located on the grounds of the Luzerne County Courthouse in nearby Wilkes-Barre. Their work includes a bronze sculpture of Pope John Paul II which is part of the Vatican Collection and the structural stained glass windows in the Cardinal Keeler Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. According to Project Sunrise architect Jim Murphy, of Hartford, Connecticut's JCJ Architecture, the Baut Studio was chosen for the project because of both its local roots and international acclaim. Sculptor Gerhard Baut said, "It's very fitting that we've worked on a piece that embraces coal, since so many members of our family were either directly involved in that industry or whose lives were certainly touched by the mines." He added that for many local residents, "this may be the monument a lot of folks here wished they always had."

The coal-to-diamonds sculpture stands at the beginning of a path, inspired by the landscape, the flora, the wildlife, the natural resources and the personality of the Pocono Mountain - Susquehanna River Valley, that will bring visitors to the Sunburst Bar bursting through the clearing at the center of Project Sunrise. The space will be filled with a golden light emanating from a 120 foot diameter acrylic abstraction of the sun on the ceiling, with a sophisticated computer program slowly changing light quality and hues during the course of a day. It is the energy of the sun's rays that permeates the Sunburst Bar and indeed all of Project Sunrise.

The new $208 million, approximately 300,000 square foot permanent casino project at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is scheduled for grand opening on July 17, 2008, pending approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The complex has been designed to deliver an exceptional gaming and entertainment experience to residents of Northeast Pennsylvania and tourists traveling through the region.