|By Robert Evatt, Tulsa World,
Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 30, 2012--CATOOSA -- The main structure is in place and interior walls are going up.
Now builders and designers can focus on making the 98-room, $52 million tower being added to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa a fun, glamorous place to be entertained when the first two floors open up in the fall, said Jon Davidson Sr., director of hospitality operations at the Cherokee Nation-owned Hard Rock.
"It's starting to take shape from the inside out," he said. "Our teams can now visualize the rooms they're working with rather than just go by renderings."
For instance, what looked like an odd ledge above the main entrance during a walking tour Friday will be made into a large art display.
Mark Watowich, project director for Flintco, the construction company for the tower, said he hasn't yet heard what type of art will go in there.
"We'll have a backlit case people will walk under," he said.
A series of girders around the front entrance that will eventually form a decorative archway are echoed by girders on top of the 10th floor that will form a design to give the tower a distinctive look. Workers have taken to calling the support beams for the design "the eyebrow," Watowich said.
From the front entrance, the food court is visible on the opposite wall. Watowich said areas serving pizza and Mexican and American fare are already planned.
Most of the first floor will be devoted to gaming, including a poker room. Currently, workers are installing an elevated floor on the foundation that will mask the nest of wires needed to power hundreds of slot machines.
Harry Luginsky, senior superintendent for Flintco, said the tower requires a beefier and more elaborate electrical setup than most projects.
"You've got all the security systems and cameras in place, as well as the games," he said. "Every area has to be especially secure, with a surge protector on every device."
Adding to the electrical needs will be the second-floor media bar, which will be circled by a series of panels showing video. Watowich said a minimum of 150 video panels will be required to fill out the video wall.
The second floor will also have gaming, as well as direct access to the parking garage and an elevated walkway leading to outdoor parking.
Watowich said the Cherokee Nation hasn't yet decided what to do with the third floor, though possibilities include banquet space, meeting rooms or office space.
Floors 4 through 10 will house hotel rooms, many of which will be suites ranging up to 700 square feet.
"This is a size-and-a-half bigger than your typical suite," Watowich said.
The hotel rooms will be ready for occupants two months after the first two floors open.
Robin Flint Ballenger, chair of Flintco, said she's proud of the level of work her employees and contractors are able to provide, despite the summer heat.
"I know it doesn't look like it at first glance, but this is a very clean and organized construction site," she said.
Flint Ballenger noted that of the 400 workers currently involved in the project, 35 percent to 40 percent are American Indians.
Robert Evatt 918-581-8447 firstname.lastname@example.org
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