Construction Today 2018 - Volume 16, Issue 3 - 87
IN THIS SECTION
Code 3 Construction
on the economic relationship between the community and the
meetings business is emerging. Cities are promoting not just their
facilities and cultural attractions to conference organizers, but
also their resources for innovation, often in the tech, research, and
education sectors. This far-sighted, inclusive strategy stresses longterm growth for cities and regions, rather than short-term returns.
Austin's South by Southwest (SXSW) is a notable example of this
approach. With minimal expense, the city leveraged its homegrown
media and music industries to attract attendees as well as outside
sponsors to the conference; the local economic impact of the 2016
event was $325.3 billion.
Redefining the destination-city in this way greatly enhances the
draw to convention visitors.
Drilling Down on Building Up
To keep up with these changes, the physical nature of convention
centers has also evolved. In the 20th century, convention centers were
all about scale, but the demand for cavernous exhibition spaces is
waning. Replacing the bigger-is-better mandate is a focus on customizable meeting spaces that can be tailored to diverse specifications.
Many communities are faced with a choice between building
new or renovating existing facilities. Typically, building a new hall
is easier than rehabbing an old one. However, finding a suitable site
- one that is sufficiently large, centrally located, and within walking
distance of urban attractions - is not always feasible. Opting to build
from the ground up also eliminates the need to interrupt scheduled
conventions, as they can be held in the outdated facility while the
new one is being constructed.
For convention centers located on a landlocked, built-out site,
there's typically one way to go when adding meeting space to the
hall - up. The old model for facilities situated everything at ground
level for easy access; now, with land at a premium, most buildings
are stacking spaces vertically. This presents its own set of challenges,
including incorporating parking into the structure and planning the
ground-level programming and content - but it provides an opportunity to make a design statement.
Inside the convention center, user expectations are a combination
of the pragmatic and the aesthetic. Great-looking public areas and
meeting spaces with a high level of quality detailing and finishes
(think wood veneer, clear-span design, and glass partitions instead
of drywall, concrete columns and popcorn ceilings). Architecture
that capitalizes on its setting, with a lobby or ballroom oriented
towards a view of a river or park, is another enticement that appeals
to meeting planners.
To maximize resources (both in area and revenue), it's possible to
Code 3 has an edge
when it comes to building medical facilities.
RLH Construction LLC -
Lexus of Orlando
GME Supply Co.
Ivanhoé Cambridge - CIBC Square
GRYCON - 3480 Main Highway
Stark Enterprises/Arbor Construction
Austin Commercial - Texas A&M
University Central Texas
D'Agostini Land Company
Central Builders Inc.
Code 3 Construction
simultaneously increase meeting capacity
and reduce exhibit space through creating
a physically flexible design. Moscone West
in San Francisco is an example of this tactic.
The building features more than a mile of
movable interior walls that permits a high
degree of freedom to reconfigure the 200,000
square feet of function space on the second
and third floors.
Of course, the technological features that
are intrinsic to the impetus for upgrading
a convention facility must be state-of-theart. Digital resources, seamless connectivity and security programs are central
to every successful meeting. Intelligently
planned and executed investments in convention centers will yield not only great
financial returns, but ensure a returning
customer as well.
Julian Anderson is a founding shareholder and president of Rider Levett Bucknall
North America, where he is responsible for overall management.
VOLUME 16, ISSUE 3 CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM