A Preview of the Las Vegas Convention Center Expansion

Las Vegas Convention Center|||||||Las Vegas Convention Center Expansion Groundbreaking Ceremony
Las Vegas Convention Center had an eventful week hosting CES 2018 Jan. 9-12. As if hosting the world’s largest tech tradeshow wasn’t enough, facility staff combatted flooding and a long power outage. But the flood of activity won’t be anything compared to what’s to come. A groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 8 marked a major milestone for a project to expand the convention center. To give a scope of the renovation’s importance, consider that in 2016, Las Vegas hosted nearly 22,000 meetings, conventions and trade shows, which directly supported an estimated 54,800 jobs paying $2.3 billion in wages and salaries. The idea is to maintain current business and attract new events. The expansion should debut at CES 2021 and renovation is expected to be completed two years later. Atlanta-based architecture and interior design firm tvsdesign has been tasked to turn the facility into the best of its kind. The company will draw on its experience leading the $1.5 billion expansion to the Jacob Javits Center in New York City and the $585 million Music City Center in Nashville. Connect talked with tvsdesign’s Rob Svedberg, who will serve as project executive, about upgrading Las Vegas Convention Center.

How does this project compare to others tvsdesign has developed?

Las Vegas has more in common with New York than anywhere else because both of those venues have shows just go there and not really interested in going other places. Both buildings are very busy with their work so the challenge is finding dates for new events rather than trying to convince people to come to the destination. Vegas is a completely different world. There is a whole ecosystem of events and resorts and activities that people can do and can’t get anywhere else.

What have your impressions been on the convention center as a visitor?

We're coming out here in preparation for this project for about five years. As designers cant help but a.) look at it critically and b.) see what you’d do to fix it. The building itself was a product of its era. It was a tradeshow market and trying not to compete with resorts and was pretty bare bones. It was a functional-but-no-frills kind of environment.

Was the facility upgraded to prevent events from leaving?

I don't think it was necessarily a defensive move, but the events themselves have evolved and the customers’ needs have evolved. Just like any good business, as customers needs adapt, then the facility needs to adapt. They do want to attract new events that aren’t coming but they also have very successful events and this project is going to make those events more successful.

How are the hotels and resorts that also serve events reacting to this project?

The convention center and hotels don't really compete with each other very much; they compliment each other. The role of convention center is to service the really large trade and exhibitors, midweek business that really fills up all the hotels. It really is a rising tide raises all boats philosophy. All resorts want each other to be successful and they want the convention center to be successful.

How to build in room for technology to improve once the building is complete?

Some of the technology changes so quickly that all you can do is provide a flexible infrastructure that the building can adapt. Part of designing for technology is designing so that technology is in the service of facilitating face-to-face interaction. It’s not about the technology, but how do you improve the experience of the users?

What trends are shaping your plans?

These projects always take three to five years to develop, so you really try to look 10 to 15 years in the future when you are looking at new building and programming and designing. I think the single biggest trend is the shifting demographics and technology environment we’re in. The meetings industry has been slow to catch up on the technology side of the business and the demographics have been pretty fundamental in that people aren’t just coming to events to see exhibits anymore, they’re coming for a social experience. In designing a building, you have to design a stage set. You are basically making a set design for social interaction.