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 has undergone a massive transformation, ultimately re-energizing and the 46-year-old facility. The $325-million expansion and renovation 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 redesigned, along with linking to new transit systems and surrounding development. The solution for San Antonio captures 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 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 included more than 800,000 square feet of new construction and 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 was added along with a 54,000 square foot ballroom, 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 now opens up to 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 connectivity 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 are clearly displayed on the iconic north public entry, on the east Façade, visible from Interstate 37, and on the River Walk.
IMPACT. The new Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center has secured San Antonio’s competitive position among convention centers nationwide by providing a flexible, efficient experience that exudes the character and spirit of the city and its citizens. Its sustainable design has received LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.