UDG Principal Don Buenger Received an Award for Innovative Architectural Design of Smokefree Casinos from the American Nonsmoker’s Rights Foundation

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The American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation recently hosted a workshop on creating safe and healthy smokefree casino jobs. Don Buenger, a Principal with the architectural firm Urban Design Group, was invited to speak about designing smokefree casino environments, and he was presented with an award for his firm’s innovative work.

Smokefree casino workplaces are now a reality in more cities, states, and in tribal properties. This workshop was another opportunity for networking, knowledge exchange, and to discuss best practices for successful smokefree casino implementation.

Donald C. Buenger, AIA, LEED AP, Principal with Urban Design Group (UDG), recently spoke about design considerations for creating smokefree casinos at a workshop sponsored by the American Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) Foundation. The ANR’s “Workshop for Safe and Healthy Smokefree Casino Jobs” was held in Cincinnati, Ohio from December 16-18 at the Westin Cincinnati and the Horseshoe Cincinnati Casino. Buenger was also presented with an award from the ANR Foundation for his firm’s work.

Buenger, and his firm UDG, were architects for the recently-completed Hollywood Casino Toledo that features an indoor smokefree environment and incorporates creatively integrated smoking areas and porches into the property. Buenger presented a session titled, “Ohio Smokefree Casinos from Design and Operations Perspectives” on Wednesday, December 18.

“Smokefree casino workplaces are now a reality in more cities, states, and in tribal properties,” said Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. “This workshop was another opportunity for networking, knowledge exchange, and to discuss best practices for successful smokefree casino implementation. Attendees included public health officials and advocates, health voluntary agency representatives and workers.”

At the workshop, ANR Foundation and partners highlighted the positive steps many gaming operators have taken to address the issue of secondhand smoke. There are now more than 500 smokefree casinos and other gambling facilities in the US, and many more internationally - from Canada and much of the Americas to Europe and New Zealand.

Today, 82% of the U.S. population are nonsmokers, and people are much more aware of the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke in the workplace and are demanding smokefree entertainment venues, including casinos. Twenty US states include casinos and other gambling venues in smokefree workplace laws. Smokefree casinos also meet industry goals to be green, sustainable, and to be a good community partner as well as a responsible employer.

“There are many lessons learned, and best practices for making smokefree indoor air largely a non-issue for gaming operations,” said Hallett. “For example, architectural design firms are now taking a more thoughtful approach to planning for outdoor smoking areas conveniently located near gaming floors as Don explained during his presentation.”

More casino operators now realize that strong smokefree laws are in the best interest of their company and shareholders. Smokefree laws help create parity and normalcy on this issue throughout a region. For example, the quicker that neighboring states adopt similarly strong laws, the sooner the industry will not have to deal with indoor smoking as a variable.

"Smokefree indoor air helps ensure a safe work environment for the employees in this growing job sector," said Hallett. "Gaming job creation should not come at the expense of sickening the people and communities those jobs are supposed to be helping."

The issue of smoke-filled casinos is pressing because workplace exposure to secondhand smoke remains a top preventable cause of chronic disease, healthcare costs, and premature death. 20 US states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands now include state-regulated gambling jobsites in smokefree workplace laws. A growing number of sovereign American Indian Tribes and Nations are also addressing the issue with smokefree and commercial tobacco free policies.

About Donald C. Buenger, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, UDG:

Upon graduation, Buenger joined UDG in 1975 at the firm’s inception. Buenger has been a passionate leader with UDG throughout his career, and he moved to Georgia in 1989 to open the Atlanta office. His dedicated leadership and passion for his profession has made UDG’s approach widely respected throughout the vibrant Southeast region and the country.

With countless major projects to his credit, Buenger has developed a keen sense of context and relevance in the studio’s work. He further understands the importance of balancing delivery with the realities of budget. This unique talent has been applied extensively in the commercial office market, mixed-use projects, education and resort/gaming sectors. From inception to completion, Buenger’s ability to clearly comprehend client needs, then translate them into realizing their vision through master planning, design and construction, has resulted in multiple loyal, decades-long client relationships.

Buenger holds a Bachelor of Architecture (with Honors) from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. He is registered architect, licensed to practice in 22 states and is recognized as a LEED Accredited Professional. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

About Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights / ANR Foundation:

American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation is a national non-profit public health organization dedicated to protecting everyone's right to breathe smokefree air. The ANR Foundation is a non-lobbying, educational nonprofit organization (501 (c) 3), which creates comprehensive programs for youth of all ages on issues of smoking prevention, the benefits of smokefree air, and the right to breathe smokefree air. For more information, please visit http://www.smokefreecasinos.org.

About the award-winning architectural firm UDG:

Founded in 1975, UDG offers architectural, interior design, master planning, product design, and purchasing and logistics services to its worldwide clientele from offices in Atlanta, GA, and Dallas, TX. A market leader in the application and advancement of Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), UDG's personnel work on a wide range of projects from hospitality, resort, and gaming projects to corporate office, university facilities, and urban mixed-use developments.

In the firm's 38-year history, UDG has completed more than $6 Billion in projects worldwide. The firm has received more than 80 design excellence awards and honors and 15 design competition awards, and has been featured in hundreds of magazine articles, newspaper pieces and design resource books. For more information, please visit http://www.urbandesigngroup.com.

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