An architectural design team has been selected to create the vision for the third expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. Fentress Architects, a firm based in Denver, Colorado, was unanimously approved by the San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors at a meeting this morning.
The Board of Port Commissioners reviewed the design team selection at a closed session meeting this morning and an announcement was made to the public at a press conference held at noon at the Port's Administration Building.
City of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Council President Pro Tem Kevin Faulconer, San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors Chair Bob Nelson, Board of Port Commissioners Chair Robert "Dukie" Valderrama and San Diego Convention Center Corporation President Carol Wallace spoke at the press conference about the design team selection and the benefits of the Convention Center's expansion.
"The benefits of this expansion are vast," said Mayor Jerry Sanders. "It will mean more conventions and more tax revenue for critical services like police and fire. It is critically important for the entire region. This is a project I am proud to support."
Council President Pro Tem Kevin Faulconer, who represents downtown on the San Diego City Council, echoed Mayor Sanders' comments regarding the importance of the expansion to the region.
"This expansion will benefit every single neighborhood," he said. "The Convention Center is an economic engine and this expansion increases the horse power it generates. It will bring millions of visitors to our beaches, attractions, hotels and restaurants."
The proposed concept presented by Fentress Architects tops the expanded area with a five-acre rooftop green park. The park is built on a slant and features a band shell that can be used for outdoor musical concerts and other public events. The addition of the rooftop park maximizes the open space in the South Embarcadero area and when combined with the Port's Embarcadero Marina Parks North and South, gives the area the largest concentration of green space west of Balboa Park.
"A project like this takes a lot of energy and the cooperation of multiple agencies," said Port Board Chair Robert "Dukie" Valderrama. "We're pleased to be a part of this team."
The expansion will add about 225,000 square feet of exhibit space, 80,000 square feet of multi purpose ballroom space, 16,000 square feet of kitchen space and 101,500 square feet of meeting room space. Additionally, there will be an outdoor promenade, retail shops, pedestrian walkway and a water transportation center.
"Our meeting planners have told us what we needed in this expansion project and Fentress listened," said Carole Wallace. "This design is flexible, functional and efficient. The expansion will also give us the largest exhibit hall on the West Coast. We'll be number one."
Although the San Diego Convention Center Corporation is the lead agency on the expansion project, the Port will be the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act for the Environmental Impact Report. The Port will also be taking the lead on another element of the expansion – the addition of a hotel with up to 500 rooms.
The concept presented by Fentress Architects Inc., suggests three options for the hotel. One has it placed on the southeast corner of the Convention Center with the tower facing San Diego Bay. The second has the hotel in the same location, but with the tower facing Harbor Drive. A third option depicts it on top of the parking garage located next to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. All three options will ensure that the hotel's placement has minimal impact on bay views, public space and public access.