The Spokane Convention Center Completion Study represents a unique opportunity to strengthen the identity of the “East Campus” of the Spokane Convention Center Campus. The project is intended to fully build out the program originally envisioned for the 2005 expansion, while addressing the needs of facility users, meeting planners and reflecting current trends in the convention center industry. Above all, the facility will create a signature experience for visitors, delegates and the general public.
The Completion Study has been approached with a single objective in mind: to achieve the most cost- effective, operationally efficient and programmatically balanced project possible. Recognizing the likelihood of continuing challenges to the economic environment, the study has been conducted with a strict emphasis on careful consideration of cost impacts and functional benefits. The resulting recommendations in the Concept Design Report represent a practical, buildable and aesthetically integrated facility that will strongly support the continued success of the Spokane Convention Center.
Building on the success of the Expansion’s engagement with the Spokane River, the new spaces seek to capitalize on the direct connection to the Centennial Trail and Riverfront Park in a way never before possible. Incorporating feedback from critical stakeholder and agency groups, and adhering to the tenets of the Shoreline Master Plan, the Completion Project will improve the experience of visitors and the general public along the Trail. By adhering closely to the Spokane Public Facilities District’s Sustainable Practices Policy, this design respects the spectacular natural setting within which it is sited.
Scope of Study
The District is considering the completion of the Spokane Convention Center to include additional exhibition hall, meeting room and support space. The proposed project site is on the north side of the existing facility in the area where the C.I. Shenanigan’s Restaurant and parking lot are currently located. The Completion Project is intended to provide additional program spaces not included in the previous expansion and to enhance the overall building to meet the latest trends in convention facilities.
The Study is planned to run from October 2010 into early 2011 and conclude with the development of a Concept Design Report. The Report will include a summary of the proposed Design Concept in Narrative and Diagram format. Additionally, the report includes a Probable Cost Summary for the project.
As part of the Completion Study, the District is studying opportunities to make improvements to the adjacent Centennial Trail, public open spaces and restoration of the adjacent the river bank. The goal is to improve access and recreational use opportunities, while also improving the health of the river ecosystem. Work involving the Centennial Trail and riverbank is a separate project from the Convention Center Completion Project.
Consistent with the District’s Sustainability Goals within their Sustainable Practices Policy, the LMN+ALSC team promotes environmental responsibility through our practice of sustainable design and the application of “green” measures. Our process goes beyond the LEED evaluation system to ensure that environmental principles are carefully integrated into the entire process. The Conceptual Design approach outlined in this report anticipates being able to achieve a LEED Silver Certification for the Completion Project. Elements of our sustainable strategies are discussed within the Design Narrative that follows.
To assist the Spokane Public Facilities District in developing a Concept Design & Probable Cost Estimate for the project, the design team of LMN+ALSC was selected. Assisting LMN+ALSC are the following consultants:
Landscape – Murase Associates
Civil – DCI Engineers
Structural – Magnusson Klemencic Associates Mechanical / Electrical – MW Consulting Engineers Cost Estimating – Davis Langdon
Assisting the Spokane Public Facilities District are the following consultants: Programming / Market Trends - Conventional Wisdom
Land Use - Jim Kolva Associates
Executive Summary (by Conventional Wisdom): The challenge facing the design team is finding the balance between the amount of contiguous exhibition space desirable to meet near-term market demand and the reasonable capacity of the expansion site, given riverfront development guidelines and the urban context. The Programmer’s role is to ensure that the combination of exhibition, meeting and multipurpose space provides a balanced facility from the user perspective and has the right amount of public and service areas to provide an exceptional guest experience while improving operational efficiency.
Computer modeling examines how an audience of a given size would use the existing Convention Center, and then compares that audience to the function space available with the Completion Project. This approach identifies the demand for space for different types of event functions – banquet, plenary session, breakout meetings and exhibition – and compares the demand to the available space.
Improvements to functional efficiency are of equal importance to the marketability of the Convention Center. The back of house service areas include adequate storage for staging and setup equipment, tables and chairs; dedicated service corridors behind meeting rooms; a satellite pantry- warming kitchen that supports new banquet spaces; and a service connection linking the existing to the new areas to minimize disruption to ongoing events and overlaps with public circulation paths.
The recommended facility program adds 18,000 sf of new prime exhibition space, a 13,500 sf divisible multipurpose room for large meetings, banquets and receptions, a 10,500 sf of flexible meeting space, a satellite pantry-warming kitchen and large storage area for the setup equipment to be used in the north half of the building. The multipurpose room should have a high ceiling, improved acoustics and the production-intensive audiovisual/lighting/power systems needed to support plenary sessions, Web- casting and multimedia presentations.
Conventional Wisdom’s preliminary analysis indicates the proposed expansion will improve the marketability of the Convention Center by providing a better mix of space that is more attractive to a wider audience. While the new construction will not significantly increase the size of groups to be attracted to the facility, the greatest opportunity will be to market conventions with banquets for groups from 1,000 to 1,500 attendees.
Community Groups: the District feels that it is critical in its planning process for expansion of the Convention Center, that public input be solicited early and continuously throughout the process. The District identified individuals and organizations that would potentially be impacted by or have a strong interest in the Convention Center Completion Project. Two groups were formed and included city and other agency staff, adjacent property owners, Convention Center users, river protection and recreation advocates and Friends of the Centennial Trail. Two separate groups of meetings were held. One was the River Bank Restoration Group, focusing on the space between the Centennial Trail markers and the water’s edge. The other was the Convention Center Expansion Group, focusing on the programming and design of the structure as well as the surrounding area. Both groups shared common interests particularly with public access and interface of the building and the shoreline/Centennial Trail environment. In these meetings, the project goals and design concepts were presented. The groups were given the opportunity to present their ideas and concerns related to the Convention Center Completion Project as well as its impact on the river front.
Many of the concerns and ideas raised in the meetings were integrated into the design concept. The following are some key reoccurring themes that came from the meetings:
- Improve the connection of the Convention Center to the RiverBank/Centennial Trail.
- Meet set-back requirements of the recently adopted Shoreline Master Plan.
- Provide interior and exterior spaces with views of the river.
- Locate meeting rooms adjacent to the Exhibition Hall.
- Soften façade of the building that faces the river.
- Improve access for pedestrians arriving from the north on Division Street.
- Improve access to river and Centennial Trail from Spokane Falls Boulevard.
- Provide public amenities and activities along the Centennial Trail to encourage day and evening use.
- Provide safe river access for boating.
- Limit access to river bank from Centennial Trail.
- Maintain adequate width of Centennial Trail.
- Fire Department: the Design Team met with Chief Bobby Williams and Dave Kokot of the Spokane Fire Department on December 14, 2010 to discuss their issues and concerns regarding the proposed Convention Center Completion Project. Fire trucks need to get within 150 feet of any point of the building. The Centennial Trail currently serves as the fire lane for this purpose. Primary Fire Department access points are the Convention Center breezeway and the Marriott Courtyard Hotel parking lot. The existing secondary access point between the Ag Trade Center and the Doubletree pool must be maintained. The fire lane must have a minimum clear width of 20 feet with a minimum of 15 feet of that width paved.
- State Agencies: Members of the Design Team met with Mike Maher of the Department of Ecology and Karin Divens with the Department of Fish and Wildlife January 7. 2011. The purpose of the meeting was to get a clear understanding of these agencies concerns about modifications to the river bank and the Centennial Trail directly north of the Convention Center. The key issues/concerns are as follows:
- Basalt river bank armament is okay in specific areas where justified if placed naturally and combined with plantings.
- A boat launch under the Division Street Bridge is acceptable. Placement of rocks in the river for this purpose will require a “Hydraulic Project Approval” from the DFW.
- A dock or pier in the river will require a “Hydraulic Project Approval” from the DFW.
- The City of Spokane Planning Department will review the project for compliance with the Shorelines Master Program.
Key Points to be considered in Shoreline Approvals: The design team held several stakeholder meetings, and reviewed the project with the City Planning Department, City Fire Department, City Parks and Recreation, City Arts Commission, Department of Transportation, Department of Ecology and Department of Fish and Wildlife.