By Jennifer N. Dienst, Contributing Editor
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New spaces, new amenities, and new experiences in Philadelphia
In the spring of 2011, the Pennsylvania Convention Center celebrated the opening of its $786-million renovation and expansion — a project that increased the center's footprint by 62 percent and pushed its total space beyond one million square feet. The facility is now home to the Northeast's largest contiguous exhibition space (five halls totaling 528,000 square feet) and its largest ballroom space (55,408 square feet), as well as a unique collection of new spaces and amenities. Two large conventions can now use the facility at the same time, and the latest in meeting technology, from full-perimeter security to one gigabyte of Wi-Fi available for attendees, makes the center the total package for meetings of every size and shape.
“We want our visitors to know that our building understands and delivers on their needs for a productive meeting,” said Ahmeenah Young, president and CEO of the center. “We want our visitors to feel very welcome, very comfortable, and very ready to come back again and again. We are laserfocused on customer service.”
In early 2013, the facility will continue to add amenities — a new tasting kitchen for VIP clients, chef's tables, and special events; the installation of new artwork done in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and other local arts organizations; as well as improvements in the Convention Center District's parking access. Exhibitors also will find new advertising opportunities throughout the center, and attendees can easily discover nearby cultural offerings with a new arts and culture tab on the center's wayfinding machines.
When it's time to switch to play mode, exhibitors and attendees will find plenty to do close to the center. Arts enthusiasts can stroll the connecting arts walk that leads to the new Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while history buffs will find the National Constitution Center and Liberty Bell close by. Three sports facilities — where the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers call home — sit just south of Center City, giving sports fanatics a convenient fix.
Accessibility is key to any successful meeting, and that's one of Philadelphia's top assets. With an ideal location in the center of the Northeast Corridor in Philadelphia, often called “the cradle of liberty,” the Pennsylvania Convention Center is within a day's drive of more than 40 percent of the U.S. population. The city is also a hub for a number of important industry sectors, from life sciences to green technology, and 330 Fortune 500 companies and more than 100 colleges and universities call the region home.
For more information: Pennsylvania Convention Center — Stephanie Boyd, Vice President, Sales, Marketing, and Convention Services; (215) 418-4750; sales@paconvention. com; paconvention.com
Pennsylvania Convention Center Highlights
• The Pennsylvania Convention Center, which completed a $786-million renovation and expansion in 2011, recently earned LEED Gold certification for the new addition, and was named the “Best Government/Public Building of 2011” by the Engineering News-Record of New York.
• With more than 1 million square feet of space in the heart of Philadelphia, the center is spacious yet ideally located close to some of the city's best dining, shopping, and attractions, including historic Reading Terminal Market and Chinatown. Philadelphia's Center City also offers more than 11,000 hotel rooms, with more in the works for 2013.
• While the 14th-largest convention center in the country can comfortably accommodate citywide conventions of up to 30,000 attendees, the staff will make corporate meetings of 30 feel just as at home. From the new tasting kitchen for VIPs and special events to the most advanced meeting technology in the nation, the Pennsylvania Convention Center has the amenities and flexible spaces that planners want and need.
• Affordability and sustainability are always top of mind for the staff of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Recently, the facility cut labor rates by 8 percent, and as a result of energy-conservation initiatives, the center decreased electric costs by 34 percent during the first eight months of 2012.
Convention Center Specs
• More than 1 million square feet
Total contiguous exhibit space
• 528,000 square feet
Total exhibit space
• 679,000 square feet
• Ballrooms: Two (32,000 square feet and 55,400 square feet)
• Grand Hall: 34,960 square feet
• Broad Street Atrium: 23,400 square feet
• Meeting rooms: 82
• Loading docks: 45
• Hotel rooms within a four-minute walk: 3,936
• Hotel rooms within a 10-minute walk: 6,402
• Hotel rooms within Philadelphia's Center City: More than 11,000