Convention Center Expansion Projected to Drive More Business Downtown

Our motto at IES is “engineering communities from the ground up,” and we’re proud to say that we’ve done just that with the new additions and renovations to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

After more than two years of construction, the new convention center is complete and open for business! Projected to open in February, IES and the Design-Build team was able to complete the project a month ahead of schedule.

With the opening being moved up to January, officials are now talking about the opportunities the expansion will bring to our city. The $325 million renovation is expected to grow convention business, local development, and community in the heart of downtown San Antonio. And just in time! San Antonio ranked No. 1 in best cities for conferences by SmartAsset due to the number of major hotels in the market, the average cost of a hotel room, and distance from the airport to the city’s center. They also cited the River Walk, downtown area Tex-Mex cuisine and the Tower of the Americas as key spots to decompress after long business meetings.

The expanded convention center will offer 514,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, 85,000 square feet of column-free multipurpose space, a 54,000-square-foot ballroom, 70 meeting spaces, and a wrap-around balcony with views of downtown and River Walk. Local leaders are also particularly interested in the new gateway to Hemisfair that will be created as a result of the convention center project.

As part of the current work for IES, the oldest part of the facility will be demolished this spring. Only the newest portion of the convention center along the west bank of the San Antonio River will remain after demolition, and a dynamic new West Entry Lobby will be added that provides connection to the expanded facility from west to east. The land recovered by the City of San Antonio after demolition is slated for the new San Antonio Civic Park, which is part of the planned comprehensive redevelopment of the Hemisfair Park grounds and is expected to be complete this fall.

Redevelopment officials are confident that the improvements to the convention center and additions to Hemisfair Park will bring yet another reason for convention delegates and other visitors to spend more time and money in the heart of the Alamo City.

Andres Andujar, point person for the redevelopment, says the transformation of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center will have a far-reaching impact on the downtown area and could attract some $600 million to $700 million in private development. “We imagine at least a half million square feet (of commercial space) will be built out,” says Andujar about the northwest quadrant of Hemisfair.

IES is proud to be a part of this ongoing project and to have created new opportunities for the community of San Antonio and its economy. To learn more about our involvement in this project and the engineering challenges involved, see our case study here.

Design Highlights & Benefits

  • 514,000 sq ft of contiguous exhibit space
  • 86,500 sq ft of column-free multi-purpose space
  • 70 meeting spaces including divisible breakout rooms
  • A new 54,000 sq ft ballroom
  • Improved circulation, way finding and accessibility of spaces
  • Innovative design, flexible spaces and advanced technology
  • Eco-friendly design using energy reduction measures

(Sources: San Antonio Business Journal and Transformation SA)


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