Massive Project in Santa Fe, New Mexico
by Larry McLane , McLane and Company
From Architectural West Jul/Aug ’11
The new Buffalo Thunder Resort, located 12 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is designed to be a Four-Star destination and includes a 150,000-sq.ft. Las Vegas-style casino, a 390-room Hilton Santa Fe North, and complete luxury and conference amenities. Buffalo Thunder Resort, sited on 587 acres, is owned by the Pueblo of Pojoaque. The name of the new resort was chosen because it is a symbol of spiritual strength for Native Americans, according to Tribal Governor George Rivera.
The design, by Thalden-Boyd Architects of St. Louis and Tulsa, is in southwestern pueblo style and incorporates artwork from pueblos throughout New Mexico. Thalden-Boyd, a Native American firm, specializes in the design and architecture of casinos, hotels, and related hospitality projects.
Approximately 7,000 linear feet of Flex-C Trac® was utilized to create theming elements, soffits, and radii. The Flex-C Trac system provides an easy way for builders to frame high quality curves by utilizing a simple, flexible metal track or plate for use with wood or metal studs.
Installation of the Flex-C Trac was done by KHS&S Contractors, Dallas, Texas. KHS&S was the framing and theming contractor in the casino and on the exterior of the project. “We’ve used Flex-C Trac in the past and like the benefits of it,” according to Ryan Smith, project manager. “The structural capabilities of the 16-gauge Flex-C Trac were extremely important in our decision to use the product. This kept us from having to bend and/or cut metal of the same thickness, which would have been very difficult and time consuming.”
The primary use of Flex-C Trac was in ceiling and soffit applications at Buffalo Thunder. “Some of the soffits had huge drops, 15’ to 20’ from the deck above. There were also many extremely heavy theming elements that had to be supported from above,” according to Smith. “Due to the height and the complex shapes and angles we were dealing with, we needed to be able to pre-form the shapes on the ground. The Flex-C Trac allowed us to do that. It’s very easy to work with. Once we were happy with the shapes, we attached the Flex-C Trac to our sub-ceiling, which was heavy-gauge studs acting as joists 12” or 16” on center, spanning the steel beams. In some cases, we constructed complete soffit systems on the ground and then lifted them up and secured them in place.”
Smith acknowledges that traditional framing methods could have been used. “But this application was perfect for Flex-C Trac,” he said. “It’s a great product for normal curved framing but as the applications become more complex, the value is even greater. Flex-C Trac may be more expensive on the front end but in this case it delivered significant labor cost savings on the back end.”
The Flex-C Trac distributor on the project was Cal-Ply, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Flex-C Trac is made of galvanized steel and is available in 16- and 20-gauge in a wide variety of widths. Flex Lite, a new light-duty alternative, is available in 25-gauge steel. Flex-C Plate and Flex-C Angle are both available in 20-gauge.