When the Las Vegas Convention Center’s new 600,000-square-foot exhibition hall opens for CES in 2021, it’s going to be unlike any convention facility in Las Vegas.
Think big lighting and audio-visual displays and wayfinding integration.
“By the time this building opens, there’s going to be a lot of augmented-reality applications that are going to be key,” said Robert Svedberg, principal for Atlanta-based TVS Design, which in December signed a $59.8 million contract to design the new building.
“Think of the virtual assistants that people are getting in their houses,” Svedberg said. “Think of that as a way to navigate through the building. You know, ‘Hey Google, how do I get to Meeting Room 101?’ That will help make these buildings more user-friendly.”
User-friendliness will be a theme for the structure that will be located in the vicinity of what is now the Convention Center’s Gold and Diamond parking lots between Las Vegas Boulevard and Paradise Road and between Convention Center Drive and Elvis Presley Boulevard.
The exhibition hall will have public space for quick meetings, more bandwidth for communications, efficient back-of-the-house facilities and outdoor exhibition space stretching to a Strip gateway.
A precise location hasn’t been established, but workers are arriving for geotechnical testing and boring on the site. Engineers will drill holes to find where rock and groundwater is and to determine building load capacities and verify if there are any environmental issues on the site.
Svedberg also said the building is expected to be representative of Las Vegas.
“One of the amazing things about what I do is I get to come to places like this, kind of get under the hood a little bit and understand it,” Svedberg said in an interview.
“Part of the design is we have to represent Las Vegas in the architecture and part of that is you really have to understand what makes it tick,” he added. “It’s not just what the visitors think; it’s what do the residents think, what represents them to the world. It’s something everybody relates to, embraces and falls in love with.”
Svedberg admits to having his own love affair with Las Vegas. Part of that may have been the result of a six-year courtship toward getting the Convention Center project.
Calls from Las Vegas
Svedberg said he first got interested in the $1.4 billion Convention Center expansion and renovation project six years ago when he was contacted by two Las Vegas architects, TSK Architects CEO Windom Kinsey and Sean Coulter, one of two principals for the Simpson Coulter Studio.
“We started digging around and at that point, everybody was trying to figure out what the ambitions were and what was going to happen,” Svedberg said.
Two more local firms became a part of the team, Carpenter Sellers Del Gatto Architects two years ago and KME Architects last year.
When the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority decided last summer to have a design competition — a common practice for big projects in China where TVS has won contracts before — the team was ready.
The competition played out Oct. 25 when three finalists were given an hour each to pitch their ideas and 30 minutes to field questions from the LVCVA board and members of the Oversight Panel for Convention Centers in Clark County.
Svedberg said the session, which took six hours from start to finish, was “a pressure cooker.”
“I would equate it to traveling with your children,” he said. “You’re so worried about everything else that’s going on and everyone else when you’re leading something like that and how everyone else is reacting to it that it gives you the luxury of not focusing on your anxiety. But it is a pressure cooker. This was one of the bigger shows that had been out there so it was a big deal.”
Contract awarded in December
The LVCVA board agreed Nov. 14 that the TVS team had the best presentation and on Dec. 12, it awarded the contract.
Now, the focus will be on the design. The process of finding a contractor that will work with TVS has begun and Svedberg will ramp up another key element of the project, transportation within the Convention Center campus. That could possibly involve planning for the new look the north Strip is undertaking.
“Everyone’s ambition is to incorporate some kind of people-mover system in there that will go a long way to compressing the size of this facility,” Svedberg said.
“Imagine when Resorts World (Las Vegas) opens and Fontainebleau (Project Blue) is up and running and you have Circus Circus and you have Wynn, you’ll have 10,000 hotel rooms from where you can walk and get on this at the Strip, which is going to change how people interact with this building in a significant way.”
TVS will be talking with LVCVA officials and convention customers like CES, the National Association of Broadcasters, MAGIC and SEMA to determine the best way to move conventioneers around the various exhibition halls.
Choosing the right technology is critical.
“The key is to think about it in advance so that when somebody comes out with a new technology it’s really easy to adapt it into the building and to not overcommit,” Svedberg said. “You have to understand that any one technology is going to have a three- to seven-year lifespan.”
Svedberg expects to he’ll continue to travel frequently to Las Vegas as the three-year project to build the new hall progresses.
One of the stipulations on the new Convention Center exhibition hall is that it be built primarily for daytime use.
While many convention facilities across the country generate revenue by providing space for dinners and banquets, the LVCVA, overseen by elected officials and resort executives, prefers to leave that revenue source to the resorts.
That will take a design component off TVS Design’s plate as it plans the project.