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Radisson Fort McDowell Resort

arrow Learn more about the 2013 American Trails International Trails Symposium...

arrow Learn more about the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort


Photo of stone building interior

hotel Reception area

The Radisson Fort McDowell Resort is conference hotel for 2013 American Trails International Trails Symposium

From the Phoenix office of LEO A DALY

The Radisson Fort McDowell Resort was designed by the Phoenix office of LEO A DALY to complement the surrounding landscape and pay tribute to the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation's rich cultural legacy.

Blending Native American design elements with features emphasizing the Sonoran desert landscape, the resort fits in perfectly with its surrounding environment. Throughout the course of the project, designers worked closely with members of the tribe to ensure the resort honored Yavapai culture. Part of the design intent also was to educate visitors about the tribe and its traditions through numerous elements as well as the nearby mountains and rivers.

The Fort McDowell Yavapai, the "People of the Four Peaks" are one of three Yavapai tribes in Arizona. The nation, which has lived and prospered in Central Arizona for thousands of years, was granted a 24,000-acre reservation 35 miles northeast of Phoenix in 1903. The Radisson Fort McDowell Resort was one of the tribe's most recent commercial ventures.

photo of building with flaming cauldron

Entry of the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort complex

The soaring, four-story lobby that greets guests is flooded with daylight and provides commanding views. Woven mesh screens that hang from the ceiling add a sense of movement and drama to the space. Their cloud-like shapes and translucence lend an element of the sky to complement the earthy, stone finishes and flowing pathway that meanders through the lobby.

The outdoor experiences are tied together with a flowing landscaped pathway meandering through the site, which evokes the nearby Verde River, and is dotted with water features, artworks, and viewing terraces. Guests are introduced to the path at the porte-cochere, featuring a 12-foot metal sculpture by artist Gordon Mischke that references the Yavapai's strong tradition of basket weaving. A variety of smaller Mischke metal sculptures are found along the winding path.

The exterior also includes several design elements that express Yavapai culture. The hotel windows alternate in composition from one floor to the next, mimicking basket weaving patterns. The cornice line's rich copper band illustrates the typical darker edge of a Yavapai basket colored from the native Devil's Claw plant.

Photo of pools with mountains

Pools and outdoor areas with the desert view from guest floors

The green of the Verde River and the red-purple of Red Mountain inspired the exterior colors of the hotel and conference center. Viewed from afar, the resort blends into the Verde River's distinct green background, while at a closer distance, the building is grounded with a lower band of the red-purple, evoking nearby Red Mountain.

The property's naturalistic landscaping, as envisioned by Logan Simpson Design, is primarily composed of native plants such as cactus and Yucca to both connect to the desert setting and to contribute to its sustainability by minimizing watering requirements.

The hotel and conference center's interiors also include many allusions to the Yavapai culture and the surrounding land, Basket forms and textures were abstracted for custom designed carpets and wallpapers. The vibrantly colored Sonoran desert and plant life informed the color palette of the interior design with deep earth tones and vibrant shades of green. The Devil's Claw plant also provided inspiration for several of the wall sconce lighting designs. When it came time to provide names for rooms and facilities, designers sought the guidance of Yavapai elders.

The combined disciplines of architecture, interior design, engineering, environmental graphics and landscape architecture worked together to strengthen functionality and emphasize the unique setting of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

Photo of swimming pool and rock walls

Swimming pool and patios

The design also establishes a cohesive identity for both the existmg casino and the new hotel and conference center. The old and new buildings are united through the use of similar colors, materials and forms. Enjoyable pedestrian links, clear visual connections, flexible program functionalities and memorable spatial experiences were also employed to further create a sense of cohesiveness within the resort.

The hotel and conference center's site plan was created through the delicate weaving of functional requirements, program relationships and prominent views. In fact, one of the goals of the project was to minimize the height of the new buildings in order to maintain the property's connection to the outdoors. Together the hotel, conference center and existing casino serve to frame the landscape: the views to the Superstition Mountains, McDowell Mountains, and Red Mountain anchor the project and inform the guests about the site. At the same time, the buildings' shapes and relationships create different pockets of interesting outdoor spaces.

Photo of solar panels on roof

Lobby area with expanse of native stone

The on-site Wassaja Conference Center (named after Dr. Carlos "Wassaja" Montezuma, a Fort McDowell Yavapai tribal member who became a distinguished leader of his people) offers more than 25,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space. The grand ballroom consists of 18,000 square feet, while the conference wing includes 3,600 square feet that can be divided into five separate sections. Throughout the design development process designers sought input not only from Yavapai adults and elders, but from tribe's young people as well. Their feedback and comments in the design meetings, relating to imagery and Yavapai culture, were essential to the process. Several art workshops were set up to have the young people create original glass artwork for the hotel restaurant.

Carlson Hotels' Radisson brand serves as the property's operator and joined the project after the primary design concept had been developed. Radisson's unique brand standards were then incorporated into the design for the guest rooms with subtle enhancements to strengthen the guest's sense of place. The bed linens feature the Radisson brand's white-on-white color scheme, but with subtle textures and patterns and a richly colored throw blanket to tie the rooms to the whole of the resort and site.

The project was realized as a design-build effort with O'Neil Construction and LEO A DALY. The integrated approached allow for the project's vision to be maintained throughout design and construction. LEO A DALY and subsidiary engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam also collaborated to provide master planning services and design of the bridge leading to the property.


For more information...

Learn more about the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort

See more activities that are part of the Fort McDowell Destination of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

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