Sahara Hotel & Casino

Sahara Hotel & Casino Towers

Sahara Hotel Towers  Image by Michael E. Pipkins

Over the course of 8 years while working for  Fred Doriot, Architect as a Project Manager, Michael E. Pipkins was responsible for many projects at the Sahara Hotel & Casino.

Michael’s first experience at the Sahara came just as the first high rise design (from Fred Doriot, Architect) was being implemented. Michael began as a draftsman on this project right out of school. As usual, the first duties given to novice draftsmen consist of coordinating door details & schedules and other menial tasks.

It wasn’t long before Michael began taking a more active role in the projects at the Sahara. Michael cut his teeth on a casino bar known as the “Casbar Lounge”. A little known fact is that the “Casbar Lounge” started off officially as the “Casbah Lounge”, a name that the owners thought was more appropriate to the theme of the property. But Michael intentionally “mispoke” the name often, referring to is as “Casbar” which he felt was a more appropriate name. Eventually, the owners came to accept that the name “Casbar” had a better ring to it after all.

Later in his career, Michael was responsible for many other architectural projects at the Sahara. Including various other restaurants, offices, convention facilities and a new Race & Sports Book.

The final two projects that Michael was to oversee was a 2nd High Rise Tower, perpendicular to the tower that was under design when Michael was first hired and a 6 story parking garage to accommodate the new occupancy.

Sahara Parking Garage

Sahara Parking Garage Image by Michael E. Pipkins

After many weeks of pre-design and master planning for the new new tower and garage, and after struggling to deal with placing the desired new elements on a limited site footprint while still maintaining vehicular and emergency access, Michael finally stepped back and asked, “What if we simply allowed vehicles to drive through (under) the new high rise tower?” With this simple (and now seemingly obvious) question posed, Fred Doriot was able to masterfully blend this new design concept into the project.

Michael then took Doriot’s vision and was responsible for the creation and implementation of working drawings, code analysis, consultant coordination, detailing, exiting & accessibility analysis, and construction administration for both the new high rise tower as well as the parking garage.

Vehicles drive under the Sahara Hotel Tower

Vehicles exiting from under the Hotel Tower at the Sahara. The canopy and signage was added by another architect many years later. Image by Michael E. Pipkins.


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