I think the first event I ever attended at New York City’s Javits Center was probably 25 years ago when I was editor at a food retailing website and attended the Fancy Food Show. To be honest, my memories about that visit have more to do with the food (I had decided to limit my tasting only to vendors that offered biscotti as a sample) than the facility itself. Once I started covering the events industry, I visited the Javits Center — less than 45 minutes from my home — many more times and have followed its expansion progress with the interest of a local.
Now that the North Javits expansion has been completed, I was happy to be invited there for NYC & Company’s Tristate Meeting Planner event, held on April 5 in conjunction with Global Meetings Industry Day (April 7). More than 250 planners from across the metro New York region came together for a night of networking in the natural-light-filled rooftop Pavilion of the new building, along with more than 100 NYC & Company member businesses, including hotels and attractions like The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Before the reception, several planners and I accompanied Lisa Lopez, the Javits Convention Center’s director of sales and marketing, for a look at the new four-level facility, which is big on indoor and outdoor space, wide-open views of the Hudson River, and sustainability efforts, including new solar panels and energy efficient operations.
That the Javits can call itself an industry leader in sustainable practices is quite a shift from just about a decade ago. As a 2015 New York Times article described it, for years the Javits Center’s dark façade and severe angles earned it the nickname Darth Vader — especially apt for bird lovers like me since its mirrorlike façade caused birds to crash into the building, making it a major site of bird fatalities. A half-billion-dollar renovation begun in 2010 changed all that, cutting those deaths by 90 percent and creating a green roof that at last count has been inhabited by 35 bird species and four bat species. While the nearly 7-acre roof’s sedum vegetation was still winter sparse during our visit, we could see seagulls circling overhead.
The North building’s one-acre rooftop farm complete with greenhouse, which is adjacent to and in full view of the Pavilion, promises to offer a true roof-to-table dining experience and makes a lovely complement to the green roof.
And just as the spring and growing season is coming to the farm and green roof, so is the group business. “There is a strong demand for in-person meetings and events in New York, and our bookings certainly reflect that,” Alan Steel, president and CEO of the Javits Center, said in a release. “With our recent expansion, we are seeing significant interest in new corporate events, while our largest trade shows and conventions are returning with a renewed sense of excitement and energy.” Indeed, there were signs that the convention center was gearing up for the New York Auto Show while we were there, which opens on April 15.
Added NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon in the release, “It’s great to see the return of face-to-face meetings and events in New York City.”
I’m looking forward to a return trip to Javits for one of those upcoming events. And to see the birds.
More of the Javits Center Expansion
Click on the photos to enlarge them.
Michelle Russell is editor and chief of Convene.