June 7, 2001

Expanding for the future

  • For a convention center, more space means more appeal.
    Washington State Convention & Trade Center

    birds-eye view
    Image courtesy of LMN Architects
    The two sections of the Washington State Trade and Convention Center are connected across Pike Street by an arched glass canopy and a truck bridge. To the south of the arch is developer Trammel Crow’s One Convention Place office tower. On the northwest corner of the new addition is developer R.C. Hedreen’s Elliot Grand Hyatt Seattle hotel.

    Construction work on the expansion of the Washington State Convention & Trade Center is in its final stages, with grand opening festivities scheduled for mid-July.

    “We are on time and on budget,” said John Christison, convention center president and general manager. “This growth allows us the opportunity to accommodate a number of professional associations that we would have had to turn away in the past and puts us on much better footing to compete with other facilities in the western United States.”

    The expansion, which began with groundbreaking in May 1999, more than doubles the center’s heavy-load exhibition space from 100,000 square feet to 205,700 square feet and offers room for over 960 10-by-10-foot exhibit booths. A bridge within the block-long, elegantly arched glass canopy connects the new and existing exhibition halls, offering nearly 11,000 square feet of fully usable exhibit space that also serves as a special event area.

    Nearly 150 events have already been scheduled beyond the year 2002, bringing an estimated direct economic impact to the region of over $1 billion.

    The arch, Seattle’s newest landmark, stretches across Pike Street, with views of downtown, First Hill and Puget Sound. LMN Architects created a design that allows all of the exhibition space to be located on the same level, providing continuity and convenience for event planners and attendees.

    An additional advantage to this design is that it allows for two complete tradeshows to operate simultaneously in the facility, which also sustains a more consistent rate of hotel occupancy. Dual loading docks and entrance lobbies provide separate access to each event. Another addition is the new entrance lobby with a four-story glass atrium featuring a commissioned work by Seattle artist Ann Gardner.

    “The convention center expansion adds further dimension to Seattle’s growing prominence as a meeting and visitor destination,” said Steve Morris, president of the Seattle-King County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our visitors like the city’s mix of urban sophistication, natural beauty, and the unmistakable sense that dynamic growth and new ideas are happening all around them — those qualities along with great facilities make Seattle an increasingly exciting place to meet.”

    The inaugural event scheduled in the expanded facility will be the Seattle Gift Show, which runs from August 18-22, 2001. Making use of the entire convention center complex allows the Gift Show to bring all of its exhibits under one roof for the first time in 35 years. The economic advantages of the larger convention center are already apparent, with long-range bookings up over last year. Nearly 150 events have already been scheduled beyond the year 2002, bringing an estimated direct economic impact to the region of over $1 billion.

    Another facet of the expansion is enhancing Seattle’s already vibrant downtown streetscape with a mix of new retail establishments, restaurants, a luxury hotel and Class A office space. The convention center is currently offering eight new retail spaces for lease adjacent to Ninth Avenue and Pike Street. The size of these spaces range from 140 square feet to 9,176 square feet, with combinations possible to 11,659 square feet.

    Private development partners in the expansion include Trammell Crow Company, which opened its One Convention Place office tower last December. The 22-story building rises above the new convention center lobby and has its own distinctive entrance on Seventh Avenue, between Pike and Union streets.

    The R.C. Hedreen Co., another private partner, is currently completing work on the adjoining 450-room Elliott Grand Hyatt Seattle, a 990-space public parking garage and a Cheesecake Factory restaurant. Another new tenant will be the Seattle Public Library, which will open the doors to the temporary Central Library to the public on July 7. The library will use the convention center space for approximately three years until the completion of their new main branch. The location will then be occupied by the Museum of History and Industry in 2004.

    Grand opening festivities for the convention center will include a public open house on Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public is invited to take a behind-the-scenes look at the impressive new facility and learn more about the role that the center plays in the state’s economy and the local community. The event will include talks by guest speakers, displays, live music, refreshments and activities for the entire family. Admission to the grand opening event is free.

    Brian Baum is Community Relations Coordinator at the Convention Center. He served as Public Information Officer at the Museum of Flight prior to joining the WSCTC staff in December. Baum is managing events surrounding the grand opening of the expansion and can be reached at (206) 694-5151 or

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