Innovation By Design

San Jose McEnery Convention Center Expansion

  • San Jose
  • 2014

CHALLENGE. Nearly 25 years after San Jose McEnery Convention Center opened, the convention center, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, was in need of a creative renovation and expansion. Designers of the project were challenged to develop a solution that would reflect the spirit of innovation that San Jose is known for to create a truly unique experience – one that would differentiate the facility by drawing attention to the city’s strengths – art, culture and technology.

Conceived as part of downtown’s ongoing revitalization efforts, the $130 million renovation and expansion required the Populous design team to maximize functional connectivity and seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor space.

INNOVATION. The project renovated the existing center and the expansion has added more than 130,000 square feet, making San Jose McEnery Convention Center the 5th largest convention center in California. The project’s design takes advantage of California’s climate, providing ample outdoor space that allows conference attendees and  visitors to feel connected to the city.  In addition, the renovated entry plaza and new terraced plazas along the building’s north and east façades create opportunities for unique meeting spaces that blur the line between inside and out, providing much needed connectivity to Downtown San Jose and the convention center/theater district.

The architectural design of the expansion communicates a forward thinking attitude, a primary goal of the city and Team San Jose. A clean, north façade maximizes site usage, while the east and west facades fold back to embrace outdoor meeting spaces and landscaped plazas.  Floor to ceiling windows on the north and east facades maximize natural daylight to the prefunction spaces and new ballroom, while providing sweeping panoramic views of San Jose’s downtown.  Locally sourced materials, including the use of reclaimed Redwood ceilings sourced in Northern California, communicate to visitors San Jose’s commitment to sustainable design principles and a distinct sense of place. In addition, public artwork, like the Idea Tree featured in the main entrance plaza, further provide context and a slice of San Jose’s culture and innovation.

IMPACT.  The Convention Center, shortly after unveiling the expansion in 2013, was recognized as the winner of the Structures Award in the Best Public / Civic Project category by the Silicon Valley Business Journal and was awarded the AIA Santa Clara Valley’s Special Citation Award. The San Jose McEnery Convention Center hosts more than 314 events a year, welcomes one million visitors and generates more than $86 million in visitor spending annually, on average, numbers which the expansion aims to help grow.