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Prominently situated on a historic hillside overlooking the Potomac River, MGM National Harbor is a premier entertainment destination and the first luxury gaming resort in the Capital Region. HKS designed MGM National Harbor to be a striking landmark to its community and a gateway into Maryland.
MGM National Harbor draws inspiration from the strength and timeless qualities of the capital’s architectural legacy. A preference for “white architecture” was established to respect the marble structures in the District, and the vision called for a landmark tower inspired by the Washington Monument.
In addition, precedents established by the District’s historic urban plans – including the 1791 L’Enfant Plan and the 1901 McMillan Plan – are interpreted as organizing devices that root MGM National Harbor in its place and give meaning to the architecture.
The Vision and Design
MGM National Harbor achieves its monumental scale through a single architectural gesture: a massive plinth, or base, which supports the primary program elements above. Visitors approach from a lower vantage point and ascend up a hill to arrive – a strongly symbolic journey of climbing a series of grand steps and arriving atop to experience a landmark.
Casino and hotel guests arrive through a glass-enclosed conservatory bathed in natural light. The 80-foot tall conservatory, lined with restaurants and high-end shopping, celebrates the moment of arrival and is the heart of the property.
Rising 24-stories, the hotel tower is the project’s landmark. It’s angled and knife-like edge recalls the strong vertical form of the Washington Monument. The tower is rotated 33 degrees from the project’s axis to be parallel with the National Mall, deepening the relationship between the site and the heart of the District.
A landscaped roof deck provides a gathering space and an expansive area for indoor-outdoor dining. A digital façade, cantilevered off the point of the plinth, adds visual energy and brand identity. A bold, sweeping roof bridges off the entire property to unify the discrete elements of the plan. The roof embraces the plaza to connect guests to unobstructed and panoramic views of the Potomac River and capital.