Case Study

MGM National Harbor Capital Region Gets First Luxury Gaming Resort

National Harbor, Maryland, USA

The Challenge

A preference for “white architecture” was established to respect the marble structures in the District of Columbia and the client’s vision called for a landmark tower inspired by the Washington Monument.

The Design Solution

MGM National Harbor draws inspiration from the strength and timeless qualities of the capital’s architectural legacy and achieves its monumental scale through a single architectural gesture: a massive plinth, or base, which supports the primary program elements above. HKS designers organized it along a central spine – like the National Mall – connecting one sequence of guest experiences to the next. Guests enter the property through an oval conservatory bathed in natural light. The 80-foot tall conservatory is lined with restaurants and high-end shopping.

Rising 24-stories, the hotel tower is the project’s landmark. Its 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 embraces the plaza to connect guests to unobstructed and panoramic views of the Potomac River and the Capital.

The Design Impact

MGM National Harbor is a premier entertainment destination and the first luxury gaming resort in the Capital Region, employing 3,700 people. The hotel reached capacity 242 nights during its first year of operation and totaled more than 6 million visitors.

Project Features

  • 1.7 Million square feet (157,935 sm)
  • 125,000 square foot (11,612 sm) casino
  • 234 guest rooms, 74-suite hotel
  • 27,000 square foot (2,508 sm) spa
  • 3,000-seat theater
  • 18,000 square feet (1,672 sm) of retail space
  • 15 dining options
  • 27,000 square feet (2,508 sm) of meeting space
  • 5,000-car parking garage
  • LEED Gold certified


  • 2018 Merit Award for Excellence in Design, AIA Maryland
  • 2018 Illumination Award of Merit, Illumination Engineering Society
  • 2017 NAIOP DC|MD Chapter, Award of Excellence, Best Master Plan/Mixed-Use Project