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Thread: The national convention center search

  1. #1

    Default The national convention center search

    For those of you that follow my blog, over this weekend I'm going to be blogging about dozens of other convention centers, highlighting a handful of good and bad projects. The idea is to compare ourselves to what other cities have done and learn from their mistakes and high points. Since most of you don't follow my blog I'll post some of the stuff on here, too.

    Just to get us started, the award for best-designed convention center (it's a toss-up between this city and Pittsburgh)... is Columbus. Their center isn't as flashy as the D.L.L. Convention Center, but I feel like it makes up in its innovative approach to street frontage. Typically convention centers suffer from not really flowing with the area, breaking up the flow, and being a huge block. I like how they modeled the rear of the convention center after a street with individual infill projects.



    Built in '93, expanded in '99, with 1.7 million total space, and 426,000 sf of exhibition space (the '99 expansion, totaling 300,000 sf, cost a mere $81 million). They got the design from a 1989 design competition which architect Peter Eisenman won.

    Here's an aerial overview:


    I picked Columbus despite the fact that their convention center could really use a good remodel on the inside, and it's not too fancy on the interior either. Kind of a bare bones project. It is a lot of space though, it was built relatively cheap, features a connected convention specialty hotel, the design is the result of a design competition, and I have yet to find a comparable-sized center that interacts so well with the street level. So there you go.

    Think similar to the facade of the WinStar, but instead of surrounded by the world's largest parking lot and an interstate highway, surrounded by the built environment that the facade actually mimics.


    Here's the first post, where I also describe the worst convention center in the nation (Daytona Beach)..
    http://downtownontherange.blogspot.c...and-worst.html

  2. #2

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Great blog!

    I have been to many convention centers, I wonder if you are going to talk about any of them. My perspective is different because I remember the interior and location away from things for most of the convention centers.

    I didn't vote because I don't want them to build a convention center next to the park. That and the fair grounds project they through in MAPS.

  3. #3

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Right (and thanks for the compliment). You might appreciate what I had to say about the park/convention center duo:

    I would say that the hideous, garish design that the MAPS 3 people promoted for our convention center is VERY comparable to the Daytona center (and yes, I know it's one of many preliminary convention renderings that just act as placeholders until we are closer to breaking ground on this in 6-7 years). Let's get a head start on not making the mistakes that Daytona Beach made, because it would extremely costly for us. And if we go with such a hideous, garish design, look at the effect it will have on the park: I don't care how wonderful the park is and how well-designed it is, if you put it in front of a ghastly colorful object, it will look silly. That's why the convention center needs to be removed from the park and why we have no business with ghastly colorful designs in the first place. No wonder the convention center was the least popular MAPS 3 project -- I guarantee if they had just stuck with the C2S preliminary rendering (the "Rose Rock Center") that the convention center wouldn't have cost as many votes. Now, how it interacts with the surrounding environs, that's a whole different issue.

  4. #4

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Spartan, I agree

    Can someone post pics or a link to the "Rose Rock" design? A google search didn't work. Thanks in advance!

    Remember seeing one design similar to the pics shown above that had townhouses that made it blend in with the surroundings. Definitely preferred over the renderings used in the campaign.

  5. #5

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    This was the rose rock design. It doesn't mean anything really, it's just an attractive placeholder rendering to give us an idea of what a well designed center would look like that. To me it's a good start despite just being a placeholder (it's still a part of this public process), and the MAPS 3 illustrations are a definite step backward..



    And here was another good rendering.


    This however is ghastly.

  6. #6

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    I think it's unfair to criticize a design that wasn't done by architects, nor is what the City actually proposes. The Maps 3 information was put together but a group of graphic designers. Also, the site could (should?) change, so banking on a specific design is a bit premature. And, we get it already, you don't need to keep calling it ghastly.

    Back to Columbus. I agree on your interior assessment. However, I don't agree on the exterior. Even with the design as it is, the amount of blank wall space makes a walk along the convention center quite dull. The opposite side of the street (with Hampton Inn, a few stores and a couple restaurants, and then a church) is much more interesting. It may appear as though it interacts, but there is no real interaction.

  7. #7

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    I've posted about this before but Omaha's new convention center is pretty snazzy.

    Qwest Center - Home

  8. #8

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    It's a bit premature to even think about this stuff.

    I don't think the first MAPS project was even started 'til 3 years after the original vote. I doubt we see anything for at least 3 years as these projects are a lot more ambitious than the original MAPS projects.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    It's going to take a powerful public process to get the convention center project right, especially considering how dead-set the city is on putting the center on the wrong site. So let's begin that public process NOW.

    Omaha's center is snazzy but it feels really removed from the action in Downtown Omaha. That said, Omaha does have a lot of great urbanism.

  10. #10

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    [QUOTE=Spartan;281746]It's going to take a powerful public process to get the convention center project right, especially considering how dead-set the city is on putting the center on the wrong site. So let's begin that public process NOW.

    Omaha's center is snazzy but it feels really removed from the action in Downtown Omaha. That said, Omaha does have a lot of great urbanism.[/QUOTE

    NO SITE HAS BEEN SELECTED.

  11. #11

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    It's going to take a powerful public process to get the convention center project right, especially considering how dead-set the city is on putting the center on the wrong site. So let's begin that public process NOW.
    One idea:
    Plant several NotThisSite! signs all around and in the city's preferred site.


    Maybe not.

  12. #12

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    [QUOTE=rcjunkie;281773]
    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    It's going to take a powerful public process to get the convention center project right, especially considering how dead-set the city is on putting the center on the wrong site. So let's begin that public process NOW.

    Omaha's center is snazzy but it feels really removed from the action in Downtown Omaha. That said, Omaha does have a lot of great urbanism.[/QUOTE

    NO SITE HAS BEEN SELECTED.

    I can't think of another City in the Country more similar to Oklahoma City than Omaha.

    Great Urban core, a short drive to a College football powerhouse, close proximity to a "city" river, incredibly friendly, even the view from the top has a striking resemblance:


  13. #13

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    True. And nothing on the south side...if we're looking north.


    errr probly westward.

  14. Default Re: The national convention center search

    I had never been to Omaha when I saw the convention center. I was pretty impressed with the whole city. Lets face it, its not Chicago or NYC, but its a comperable city - a bit smaller than OKC but fairly affluent.

  15. #15

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Quote Originally Posted by mugofbeer View Post
    I had never been to Omaha when I saw the convention center. I was pretty impressed with the whole city. Lets face it, its not Chicago or NYC, but its a comperable city - a bit smaller than OKC but fairly affluent.
    They have Urban Outfitters.... =( Please UO come here soon!

  16. #16

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    [QUOTE=RedDirt717;281784]
    Quote Originally Posted by rcjunkie View Post


    I can't think of another City in the Country more similar to Oklahoma City than Omaha.

    Great Urban core, a short drive to a College football powerhouse, close proximity to a "city" river, incredibly friendly, even the view from the top has a striking resemblance:

    I've heard great things about Omaha but never visited. Very attractive. It also appears to be denser than OKC.

  17. Default Re: The national convention center search

    I hope you mean more urbanly dense?

    From what I saw on my visit, no, not really. Its set up kind of like Tulsa with downtown on the river and then virtually the entire city west of there. Not a huge amount of urban condo and apartment construction. The downtown is a bit smaller even than ours but with a very nice Bricktown-type area and far less suburban office development. The main drag, Dodge Rd. is kind of the backbone of the city with most things going on along there. Far from perfect, but the scope and size of the convention center is a good comparison.

  18. #18

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    What surprises me is that OKC has an edge over Omaha, which is a more progressive city with an equally strong civic spirit and a stronger corporate base. Warren Buffett is to Omaha what Boone Pickens is to OSU.

    We can learn from Omaha's successes and failures with their convention center. For example, many of you heard last year that OKC had the highest percentage increase in convention business. Omaha was #2, so that's a huge success. Omaha has had a handful of smaller hotels crop up in NoDo (success), but none of them that we would consider a competitive convention hotel (failure). The Qwest Center has helped spark a revival in NoDo (success) but fails to actually feel like a contiguous part of NoDo or even DTO in generally for that matter (failure). I would call the Qwest only a "marginal success", in the context of how much better it would have been had it not been wedged between 480 and the Missouri River.

  19. #19

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Quote Originally Posted by mugofbeer View Post
    I hope you mean more urbanly dense?

    From what I saw on my visit, no, not really. Its set up kind of like Tulsa with downtown on the river and then virtually the entire city west of there. Not a huge amount of urban condo and apartment construction. The downtown is a bit smaller even than ours but with a very nice Bricktown-type area and far less suburban office development. The main drag, Dodge Rd. is kind of the backbone of the city with most things going on along there. Far from perfect, but the scope and size of the convention center is a good comparison.
    Dodge Rd is a more chic and more developed version of the NW Expressway (and then further out towards 680 it resembles Memorial Rd with the controlled-access highway, so Memorial could also benefit from its example). I've always thought we could learn from them on that.

  20. #20

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    What surprises me is that OKC has an edge over Omaha, which is a more progressive city with an equally strong civic spirit and a stronger corporate base. Warren Buffett is to Omaha what Boone Pickens is to OSU.

    We can learn from Omaha's successes and failures with their convention center. For example, many of you heard last year that OKC had the highest percentage increase in convention business. Omaha was #2, so that's a huge success. Omaha has had a handful of smaller hotels crop up in NoDo (success), but none of them that we would consider a competitive convention hotel (failure). The Qwest Center has helped spark a revival in NoDo (success) but fails to actually feel like a contiguous part of NoDo or even DTO in generally for that matter (failure). I would call the Qwest only a "marginal success", in the context of how much better it would have been had it not been wedged between 480 and the Missouri River.
    OKC has much more going for it than Omaha in terms of a convention center. I think most importantly is proximity. OKC is right in the middle of three very important national interstates, central location, relatively inexpensive prices, and a general curiosity in the country about America's next city in bloom.

    I honestly think that this next MAPS is going to bring a special chapter in Heartland City.


    [edit] Actually I kind of like that, "Heartland City" the tourism department should use that. Someone make a call.

  21. #21

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Quote Originally Posted by RedDirt717 View Post
    OKC has much more going for it than Omaha in terms of a convention center. I think most importantly is proximity. OKC is right in the middle of three very important national interstates, central location, relatively inexpensive prices, and a general curiosity in the country about America's next city in bloom.

    I honestly think that this next MAPS is going to bring a special chapter in Heartland City.


    [edit] Actually I kind of like that, "Heartland City" the tourism department should use that. Someone make a call.
    I really like Omaha.

    But it gets way too cold for me.

  22. #22

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Quote Originally Posted by mugofbeer View Post
    I hope you mean more urbanly dense?

    From what I saw on my visit, no, not really. Its set up kind of like Tulsa with downtown on the river and then virtually the entire city west of there. Not a huge amount of urban condo and apartment construction. The downtown is a bit smaller even than ours but with a very nice Bricktown-type area and far less suburban office development. The main drag, Dodge Rd. is kind of the backbone of the city with most things going on along there. Far from perfect, but the scope and size of the convention center is a good comparison.
    Well I'm looking at the photo and the area to the left of the CBD appears very dense with low and mid-rise building. Is that the entertainment district?

  23. Default Re: The national convention center search

    I think its that part on the left of the hi rises. Its more active than Bricktown - more retail and more restaurants. Don't know the history of it, I just drove around before my plane home

  24. #24

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    Quote Originally Posted by sidburgess View Post

    Beautiful river. Is that a park that they have on the "south" side or just random undeveloped land?
    Both sides of the Missouri River have a park. The one in front of downtown adjacent on the west side is a hideous office park..I guess their squandered opportunity version of Lower Bricktown. On the west bank of the Mighty Mo is another park.

    Undeveloped land aint that well landscaped along a river bed. lol

    On the south side of DTO you can see the Old Market, their version of Bricktown. In the aerial you can see the edge of the Qwest Center across 480 .. you really just see the arena portion, but the convention center is attached further north (it's a very elongated structure).

    Soonerguru, the Old Market is like Bricktown but it's more functional and has less entertainment options.. imagine something more along the lines of MidTown in that case. It's a lot more local, few chains, and it's actual live/work/play and not, for lack of a better term, play/work/play/shop/play/play.

  25. #25

    Default Re: The national convention center search

    For anyone interested, I've completed a lot of the series so far. I've analyzed the heck out of regional cities that are smaller than us (Tulsa, Omaha, Des Moines, etc).

    So far what I have, for those who are interested, is:

    My favorite and least favorite convention site plans
    A Downtown ontheRange: Convention center search: The best and the worst

    A critical analysis of the Cox Center, which is actually a huge center..just not dedicated to conventions
    A Downtown ontheRange: Convention center search: Cox Convention Center

    Some harsh realities about OKC is supposed to attract more convention business with "bells and whistles" whatever that means
    A Downtown ontheRange: Convention center search: Reality

    Comparing OKC to smaller regional convention cities
    A Downtown ontheRange: Convention center search: Regional cities

    Taking a closer look at Omaha, Lincoln, and Albuquerque..who have done/proposed some cool things
    A Downtown ontheRange: Convention center search: Incorporating Amtrak

    Check this out if you want to see a well-incorporated superblock structure
    YouTube - West Haymarket Arena Concept

    The unique thing about the Haymarket Arena proposed for Lincoln is that the majority of the funding for it is actually going towards to overall site plan. They've invested so much into the site plan, making it possible to build a mixed-use urban village where there was previously a rail yard, that the arena cost is $400 million. That's just as much for the urban village and the Amtrak station as it is for the arena, though.

    Lincoln and Albuquerque have built within the existing urban fabric they have for these facilities and NOT combined blocks and created a superblock in their downtown. They have not disrupted flow, and the main reason is that they've put these facilities on the edge of neighborhoods up against rail lines.

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