Designer Forum: CallisonRTKL’s bowling center design strikes back - Feb 2019

By Keith L. Wlosek

Bowling may be synonymous with Americana, but bowling centers are changing with the times. As retailers and malls reinvent themselves with a laser-like focus on the customer experience, bowling centers are following a similar trend.

CallisonRTKL’s design for Bowlero North Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona combines vintage and 21st century aesthetics. Bowlero Corporation, previously known as Bowlmor AMF, is changing the way America views bowling centers and has earned the badge of “retailtainment”-the intersection of a unique retail and entertainment experience under one roof. There are exclusive gatherings with local celebrities and influencers attending grand openings and other events, and “Instagrammable” moments at every turn. Bowlero combines a lineup of special occasions and exciting offerings with their retro-vintage décor, funky lights, faux-neon signage and inventive menu, not to mention several different types of flooring.

BOWLED OVER
Bowlero’s most recent location, which opened in spring of 2018, wasn’t always a bowling center. The 32,000-square-foot building was previously occupied by a pet superstore and, most recently, a furniture shop. Now, it has been brought to life as the newest addition to the Bowlero Corporation portfolio and a signature entertainment destination.

The new location brings 36 black-light lanes and an unmatched energy to the epicenter of the Scottsdale 101 mall. When patrons walk into the new address, vivid colors, quirky elements and an array of activities immediately grab their attention. A custom-made mat with the company name in bold blue letters provides a warm welcome. The mat, manufactured by Mats Inc., has multiple functions; it prolongs the life of the flooring underneath, acts as a branding tool and functions as a meeting point for groups. It also helps create separation between the selfie-perfect vintage car, arcade space, bowling lanes, neon shoe rental desk and bar.

The welcome mat replicates a bowling ball located just below a chandelier comprised of antlers. This striking light fixture, combined with the Sputnik chandeliers hanging on either side of the shoe rental desk, create a subdued tone of amber lighting found throughout the space. The entrance sets the scene for the one-of-a-kind bowling alley and is the company’s logo deconstructed: a bowling ball with antlers on either side.

ORDER UP
Patrons who veer left find themselves with varied seating options, a pool table, access to bowling lanes, a DJ booth, a vintage Airstream trailer turned food truck and a bar with a creative menu.

The CallisonRTKL team chose LVT wood-look flooring by Parterre Flooring Systems for these spaces because of its durability. With high tops, booths, communal seating and bar seating mixed together, groups of all sizes can be accommodated-and with Parterre’s LVT so can the foot traffic that comes with them. The team wanted to ensure a long-lasting material was chosen while subtly adding to the ambiance.

Parterre’s Ingrained and Vertu LVT collections in Lancaster Weathered, Twilight Oak and Nocturne Pine intersect with carpet at the pool table and seating, adjacent to the DJ booth. The spin tables sit in front of a wall covered in dark, muted cassette tapes with a DJ taking requests. The multi-tone flooring brightens the space and brings balance to the deep wall colors, while the high-def graphics create the look of stacked shipping containers. The industrial feel is balanced with faux neon signage and custom-picked vintage pieces.

Bowlero is inspired by retro-vintage objects. Old is cool again; vintage has character. The selection of each piece of furniture, each fixture and finish has been personalized to showcase the vibe of the brand.

Just inside, the bar includes 20 plush seats, six televisions and bright red lighting illuminating the bar face. Food can be ordered at the bar or from the bowling lanes and is made fresh-to-order. With an inventive menu that provides a twist on American cuisine, there’s something for everyone. Above the bar hangs a mega-sized version of the Bowlero logo with faux neon lights along the border. The lights brighten the bar area and make it easy to navigate.

Opposite the bar, patrons can dine and hang out at casual counter-style seating while watching bowlers and waiting for a lane. Just a few steps up onto the bowling level, each group has its own alcove of space, clearly defined by a change in flooring. The solid, darker wood color delineates the space, creating an identifiable zone. Groups can enjoy their space without intruding on others.

GAME ON
The arcade offers more than just a typical game room. The CallisonRTKL team worked closely with Bowlero to create a unique, state-of-the-art outlet. With a retro feel, it pulls in an older crowd to interact and reminisce, while the bright lights entice younger customers. Classic games like beer pong, a photo booth, air hockey and Wheel of Fortune are mixed in with contemporary favorites like the Giant Crane, Jurassic Park Arcade and The Walking Dead.

Bowlero made it a priority to consider the noise level in the arcade space due to its proximity to bowling lanes and music from overhead speakers. The design team selected multicolored Patcraft carpet tile to adorn the arcade in red, black and white tones, balancing the bright lights from the different gaming stations.

Patcraft’s Action Planks Color Pop collection in Atomic Pop creates a distinct space and plays into the retro feel of the arcade. In the past, bowling center arcades were relegated to dingy back rooms, but Bowlero’s is an inviting and entertaining environment that caters to all ages.

After customers finish gaming, they can collect their tickets and turn them in for a prize, like a life-sized stuffed animal or an assortment of candy. From the arcade, patrons have open sightlines that reach the bowling lanes and the bar. The open layout contributes to the nightclub feel and makes it easy to keep tabs on large parties and feel engaged with the space.

BATHROOM BREAK
The restrooms are tucked away in the corner and incorporate logo-inspired signage (the men’s room features antlers). Imagine Tile was chosen for its grainy asphalt-like ceramic tiles and faux manhole covers that span the floor. Glossy white tiles mix with colorful accents to create an industrial-meets-funky trim on the walls.

Beyond the visual appeal of the tiles, they’re also durable and can handle high footfall, while the wall tile is easy to clean. The bathroom is generally a space that doesn’t garner much attention, but Bowlero was true to its theme and design concept in every corner of the space.

FRAMING THE FUTURE
The CallisonRTKL team worked closely with Bowlero to create this brand-new slice of entertainment for the Scottsdale community. Every nook and cranny was crafted in line with Bowlero’s passion for pushing the boundaries of traditional bowling center design.

Since its grand opening in May 2018, locals have been flocking to the space. Patrons have taken to social media and in-person feedback to praise the space and its vintage/modern vibe. This positive response is largely due to the funky décor, the curated experiences and the flooring materials used in the open layout. By using the flooring to create distinct spaces, patrons can enjoy themselves in different settings and have multiple experiences all in one place.

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