SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Mayor Ivy R. Taylor, District 1 City Councilman Roberto C. Treviño and City Manager Sheryl Sculley welcomed San Antonio residents to the newly transformed Henry B. González Convention Center. The $325 million expansion marks the largest capital improvement project in the City of San Antonio's history and increases the footprint to 1.6 million square feet.
"Today, we are celebrating the beginning of a new era for the convention and hospitality sector of our local economy," Mayor Taylor said. "While this fabulous new facility impressively transforms the San Antonio skyline, it is only the beginning of the more far-reaching transformation that our entire community is experiencing. Infusing new life to the southeast portion of downtown, this project encourages people to discover the amazing things that are happening right here in the heart of our city. Whether people visit locally or they travel in from around the state or the country, our convention center is a gathering place to meet with colleagues, friends and family in a safe, beautiful space."
By expanding and modernizing the Convention Center, the City of San Antonio moves into a higher tier of the convention market, bolstering the city's ability to attract larger conventions. The expansion also dramatically changes the way downtown looks and operates.
"We are proud to unveil the City's single largest capital project to date, which was accomplished on time and on budget," City Manager Sculley said. "Not only does this project transform our convention center and convention industry, it is the first domino in a series of major projects that will reshape downtown, including Hemisfair and Alamo Plaza."
Today's festivities were celebrated with the unveiling of "Liquid Crystal," a public art installation by artist Jason Bruges that is located in the Center's expansive new lobby atrium. Its 3,510 LCD interactive panels create a digital fountain effect where the flow depends upon the amount of people and activity filling the atrium. It is one of three new art installations in the center, showcasing San Antonio's diverse arts scene.
"Architecturally, the newly transformed Henry B. González Convention Center brings a dynamic and innovative façade to downtown," Councilman Treviño said. "With the largest ballroom in Texas, the only meeting room of its kind cantilevered over two lanes of traffic, and its outdoor terrace offering dramatic views of downtown, visitors will get a truly memorable experience from the building."
The Henry B. González Convention Center, originally built in 1968 when San Antonio hosted the World's Fair, has welcomed numerous additions and renovations throughout the years. The project provided a clear opportunity to further secure the convention center's position as a top destination for conferences and events, while challenging the convention center design team to find a creative way to integrate the convention center into the surrounding downtown area and Hemisfair.
"Building on our rapidly growing downtown and vibrant culture, the transformation of the Center was focused on flexibility, connectivity and the creation of the unique experience of San Antonio," said Michael Sawaya, Executive Director of Convention and Sports Facilities for the City of San Antonio. "The new facility is immediately one of the finest in the U.S., incorporates innovation and technological advancements and solidifies San Antonio's position as one of the nation's top convention destinations."
A new addition was built to the east, which will allow for the demolition of the original 1968 structure to the west. In place of the original structure will be an expansion of neighboring Hemisfair, providing enhanced opportunities for outdoor events.
"We are so excited to welcome everyone to San Antonio with the beautifully transformed Henry B. González Convention Center," said Casandra Matej, Executive Director of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau. "This transformation has been truly phenomenal. Throughout the design process, we made sure to incorporate client feedback to supersede meeting needs for the next generation. The Center's architecture is indicative of San Antonio's personality with a gorgeous limestone exterior, enhanced by public art installations. The layout is flexible and easy to navigate, all while placing attendees in the heart of one of the nation's top travel destinations. It's an absolute gem and we're very excited that this allows us to grow with our meetings and conventions."
The expanded Center is set on the River Walk in historic downtown, placing attendees within walking distance to so much of what drives meeting and convention attendance in San Antonio: historic sites including the Alamo, local restaurants, museums, theaters, shops and thousands of hotel rooms. Walls of windows bring in tremendous downtown views including the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas. This offers a distinct sense of place, setting the center apart as one that forges with the atmosphere beyond its borders.
Transformation at a glance:
- 1.6-million-square-foot footprint
- 514,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space
- 86,500 square feet of column-free multi-purpose space
- 70 meeting spaces including divisible breakout rooms
- 54,000-square-foot Stars at Night Ballroom
- Enhanced circulation, way finding and accessibility of spaces
- Innovative design, flexible spaces and advanced technology
- Eco-friendly design using energy reduction measures
- Public art installations that exude the history and culture of San Antonio
- Upcoming expansion of neighboring Hemisfair Park
The construction project was made possible by Hunt-Zachry, Populous/Marmon Mok Architects, Project Control of Texas and the City of San Antonio Transportation & Capital Improvements Department.
One San Antonio
Diverse, internationally connected and globally competitive, San Antonio has a vibrant culture and economy and is consistently ranked among the fastest-growing cities in the United States. America's seventh-largest city offers opportunities in industries ranging from bioscience, financial services, aerospace, cybersecurity, energy and transportation manufacturing to healthcare. We are "Military City USA," home to crucial military commands supported by a patriotic citizenry. We welcome 31 million visitors annually who inject $13.4 billion annually into our economy, and UNESCO recently designated the city's Spanish colonial missions as a World Heritage Site. Celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2018, San Antonio is a city with a storied past and an even brighter future. For more information, go to meetings.visitsanantonio.com.
SOURCE City of San Antonio