Every city has a story to tell, and the buildings and public spaces within it are the mouthpieces through which their stories are told. Keeping the narrative consistent is vital, and new buildings, especially convention centers, need to be designed with connectivity…
CHALLENGE. San Antonio’s Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is in the process of a massive transformation, aimed at reenergizing and enhancing the 46-year-old facility. The $325 million expansion and renovation project is focused on flexibility, connectivity and sustainability to create a convention center experience that showcases San Antonio’s rapidly growing downtown and vibrant culture.
The project provided a clear opportunity to further secure the convention center’s position as a top destination in the US for conferences and events, while challenging the convention center design team to find a creative way to integrate the convention center into Hemisfair Park, also being redesigned, along with linking to new transit systems and surrounding development. The solution for San Antonio needed to capture the charm of the city in a fresh, forward-looking fashion representative of the city’s trajectory for the future.
INNOVATION. The design of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, scheduled for completion in spring 2016, was driven by a desire for complete flexibility and connectivity. The flexibility of the expansion can be seen in the addition of critical exhibition and event space, as well as the carefully thought out addition of unique and iconic experiences throughout, many of which are unprecedented in the industry. The expansion will include more than 800,000 square feet of new construction, while renovating more than 78,000 square feet in the existing building. To better accommodate larger, more varied events, 260,000 square feet of new exhibition space will be added, along with a 54,000 square foot ballroom, making it the largest of its kind in Texas. The expansion connects directly to the existing pre-function areas, establishing a circulation loop that conveniently links all exhibit halls, meeting rooms and ballrooms. In addition, interactive wayfinding and digital signage allows meeting planners to better brand their events efficiently.
By shifting the building east, the convention center will now open up the new Hemisfair Park, while exposing the River Walk to convention attendees to create a definitive sense of place. In addition, an iconic, cantilevered room suspended over Market Street is unlike anything currently found in the US. Just inside the main entrance, the largest public indoor courtyard space in the city has been added to provide greater connectedness to the city’s urban core, while giving convention center visitors an incredible space to relax and refresh. This blending of the indoors and out was also carried out with the addition of balconies that allow attendees sweeping views of San Antonio. To further communicate San Antonio’s rich culture, the city has invested in public artwork. These pieces will be clearly displayed on the iconic north public entry, on the east Façade, visible from Interstate 37, and on the River Walk.
IMPACT. When the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center unveils the completed expansion in 2016, it will further establish and secure its competitive position among convention centers nationwide by providing a flexible, efficient experience that exudes the character and spirit of San Antonio and its community.