Sara Gruber | January 27, 2016
January 26, 2016, San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio opened the doors to the newly transformed Henry B. González Convention Center today. 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’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.
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 Park.
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 Park, providing enhanced opportunities for outdoor events.
The expanded center is set on the River Walk in historic downtown, placing attendees within walking distance to so much of what drives meeting 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
“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.”
“San Antonio has been a terrific destination for so many of our meetings,” said Susan Fischer, Strategic Account Manager for Experient. “This convention center expansion opens the door for more and larger meetings to consider San Antonio. The increased size and flexibility of exhibit space, enhanced traffic flow and having the largest ballroom in the state, definitely sets it apart. This, combined with the city’s overall appeal is a big win for San Antonio and the meetings landscape.”
“The transformation of the Henry B. González Convention Center will further establish and secure its competitive position among convention centers nationwide by providing a flexible, efficient experience that exudes the character and spirit of San Antonio and its community,” said Michael J. 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.” Sawaya added.