Miami Beach Convention Center
When a $615 million expansion and makeover is completed in 2018, the Miami Beach Convention Center will truly reflect its vibrant South Beach location right down to its Latin-inspired fusion banquet cuisine and fashion-forward staff uniforms, according to Rolando Aedo, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the Greater Miami CVB.

“Our primary focus is to take the excitement of the Miami brand, which is known globally, and make it resonate throughout the convention center,” he said. “Miami is home to some of the world’s best chefs, famous fashion houses and important contemporary art shows like Art Basel, so we want our touch points to replicate this.”

Mindful of its proximity to the beach, prime shopping areas and Art Deco hotel district, the center expansion is designed to put the facility more in sync with its surroundings, he added. Along with such additions as a 60,000-square-foot ballroom, the center will feature 12 acres of surrounding parks and landscaped areas, and $6.5 million in commissioned public art throughout the building.

“We’ll have outdoor areas for receptions so groups can take advantage of our weather,” Aedo said. “There will be sleek lines that are modern with a tropical flair, plus a great use of color and light. Creating a sense of place is number one.”

Oklahoma City Convention Center
Evoking a sense of place and set in a location where attendees have easy access to city attractions are objectives behind plans for the new Oklahoma City Convention Center, said Mike Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City CVB.

Scheduled to break ground next January and open in early 2020, the new center will have a 30,000-square-foot ballroom and 200,000 square feet of exhibit space. It will be located on the south end of downtown Oklahoma City adjacent to the Chesapeake Energy Arena sports and concert venue, and a 70-acre park that is under development. The park will offer a cafe, lake and nature trails. A new streetcar system will link the center to the Bricktown Entertainment District and other areas around the city.

“We took a holistic approach before planning the project, making sure it’s located close to things attendees can enjoy and that there is easy access to other areas,” Carrier said. “It will be easy for delegates to go to a game or concert or get to the clubs and restaurants in Bricktown or Midtown. The site is also close to the Boathouse District, an Olympic training site for canoeing and kayaking, so attendees will even be able to go canoeing and even white-water rafting.”

The design of the new center, which will feature large windows facing the park and a terra cotta palette inspired by the Oklahoma landscape, will give attendees a sense of where they are, he added.

“It will be a very modern building that makes the most of natural light. When attendees walk out of any meeting room, they will see the outdoors,” Carrier said.

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio
After unveiling a $325 million expansion a year ago, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center emerged as an integral part of River Walk, San Antonio’s iconic serpentine riverfront lined with gardens, restaurants, hotels and historic attractions. The transformation brought such features as walls of windows framing views of the river and downtown, an indoor-outdoor pizza kitchen on the riverfront and a spacious wraparound balcony off the Texas-sized Stars at Night ballroom. Further reinforcing its sense of place are the Hall of Texans, with its life-size bronze statues of famous figures, and the Lonesome Dove Room, filled with dark leather furnishings and Western art.

“When you walk into our building, you know you are in San Antonio,” said Casandra Matej, executive director of the San Antonio CVB. “We’re built over the river and it was important to incorporate our surroundings into the space.”

Avenida, Houston
As Houston’s completely reimagined convention district, Avenida is a vibrant, locally inspired social, entertainment and business hub.

The campus includes Discovery Green park, George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB), situated between three professional sports venues (Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center and BBVA Stadium), and two hotels that are directly connected to the GRB: Marriott Marquis and Hilton-Americas. Meanwhile, the GRB has a new grand entrance that connects it with the plaza and park across the street.

Avenida is a magnet for locals, leisure visitors and convention-goers, with business venues, entertainment such as festivals and other events, major public art installations and restaurants such as Bud’s Pitmaster BBQ, Cueva (“wine cave”), Grotto (Italian), Xochi (Mexican-inspired) and Kulture (African/Caribbean).

Kentucky International Convention Center, Louisville
Currently closed for a $207 million expansion, the Kentucky International Convention Center is set to emerge in 2018 with a new 40,000-squre-foot ballroom, exhibition space increased to 200,000 square feet, LEED Silver certification and elements reflecting Louisville’s unique heritage, according to Cleo Battle, executive vice president of the Louisville CVB.

“The center will be more tied to the fabric of the community and our brand—really reflecting what we’re known for, whether it’s bourbon or horseracing,” he said. “This will be reflected throughout the building through historic photographs, artwork, the colors and even the floor design.”
Javits Convention Center, New York

While its location on Manhattan’s Far West Side was once lackluster, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center now finds itself in the middle of one of the city’s most resurgent neighborhoods. Recent developments just steps from the center include the first phase of Hudson Yards, a 17 million-square-foot residential, office and retail complex, the extension of the High Line elevated park and a new subway stop that is part of an expansion of the MTA’s 7 line.

“There’s a transformation going on around the convention center, which is giving attendees more to do and planners more of a reason to book meetings in our city,” said Jerry Cito, senior vice president of development for New York & Co. “It’s becoming a vibrant new neighborhood that is now easy to get to from other parts of the city.”

Javits itself is undergoing a transformation, having broken ground in December on a long-anticipated $1 billion expansion. Set for completion in 2021, it will include a new hall offering 500,000 square feet of exhibition space on one level. The center recently completed a $450 million renovation that featured the installation of a green roof, the largest in the Northeast.

“The renovation has been very well received by customers as well as the community,” Cito said. “They really got behind the green roof and other sustainability aspects.”