Q&A with Francis Xavier Dumont, vice president and director of design for Leo A Daly

Francis Dumont has been passionate about architecture for as long as he can remember. As a boy in Philadelphia, he designed houses and sketched historic buildings in his neighborhood, and he went on to graduate with a degree in architecture from the University of Notre Dame.

Dumont’s career now encompasses more than 27 years in architecture and interior design. His work has included casinos, theaters, restaurants, hotels and a wide range of other commercial projects.

As vice president and director of design, he heads the Las Vegas office of Leo A Daly, an international architecture and engineering firm.

After a successful early career, Dumont was asked to launch the Las Vegas office of Leo A Daly in 1998. Their local projects have included the Suncoast, the D Terminal at McCarran International Airport, Lied Library at UNLV, the Phantom Theater at the Venetian, and Vdara at CityCenter.

Dumont and his team are presently redesigning and renovating Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall on the Strip, creating a rooftop nightclub, renovating the casino, and adding room amenities and a parking structure.

Leo A Daly has designed casinos for Native American tribes in several states, and is helping Wynn Resorts Ltd. with a high-rise in Macau. As a long-time proponent of sustainable architecture, Dumont is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate, and several of his projects have earned LEED certification.

What green or sustainable elements do you incorporate into your projects?

There are many different aspects of sustainable architecture, but the principal ones are conserving power and water. Whenever possible, we align buildings to take advantage of the surroundings and scenery and bring in natural light, called daylighting. We try to use local and reclaimed building materials, and we also consider the interior environment by avoiding substances that might out-gas chemicals from glue or adhesives. We encourage contractors to avoid waste during the building process and to dispose of materials in an environmentally responsible way.

Have you used any green techniques in local buildings?

Our design for the Lied Library at UNLV was our first local foray into green building. We used daylighting there with lots of north-facing windows, and it’s been very well received. We’re currently incorporating several green elements into our renovation of Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall. The owner, Caesars Entertainment Corp., is committed to sustainable operations as well as green design.

Do clients request that you bring green elements into their project, or is it something you suggest to them?

We always suggest it to our clients. Not everyone is interested, but many are, especially when we point out the cost savings for energy and water. Clients who are the most far-sighted are the ones most interested in sustainability.

What do you consider when designing casinos for Native American tribes?

We find that Native American tribes are especially interested in preserving the land for future generations, so they are very receptive to the idea of sustainable architecture. Also, if we find that certain materials or symbols are meaningful to the tribe, we try to incorporate them as design elements to help them preserve their culture.

Is sustainable architecture just a fad, or is it here to stay?

I believe it’s here to stay. When owners look at long-term operating costs, sustainability always makes sense. It may cost more at the beginning, but it pays for itself in the long run.