Layout Design Lessons -- from a Casino?
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Ideas for moving people and drawing attention

So what do casinos and model railroad layouts have in common? It's not just that you spend a lot of money to be dazzled by lights, sounds and movement. I'm not much of a gambler, in fact my buddies refuse to be seated at the same "21" table with me because I make such bone-headed decisions. That, and the fact that I'm constantly looking for ways to make my 20 bucks worth of gambling money last an entire weekend! But I have good friends living in Las Vegas and my marketing career has often brought me there for conventions and meetings, so I have spent a lot of time in casinos.


And I find the casinos to be a very interesting example of design ideas that can be applied to model railroading. When one considers any of the newer casinos, everything from the entrance at the parking lot to the hallways to the location of the restrooms is designed to move the visitor through the building toward the gambling areas and to keep them there once they arrive.


Access hallways are non-descript and have low light levels. The gambling area beckons -- an oasis of bright lights just down the hall. This has the effect of moving the visitor through the low-profit areas quickly, guiding their steps to the profit-making "pits".


We can put some of these lessons to work in layout design. Areas of limited access space or where we don't wish visitors to congregate can be less brightly lit and have no attractive features to command attention. The areas where we have provided more access and wish to direct visitors' and operators' attention may be better lit. Sight lines may be guided to key locations and scenes.


Take a look at your plan or layout room and give some thought to gently guiding visitors and operators to the locations and viewpoints you desire them to occupy. While I'm not recommending that you should immediately jet to Vegas to "do research", observing the principles that casino designers use to maximize the take might help you maximize visitor flow and enjoyment.



Except for photo, Copyright 2004 by Byron Henderson

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