Last updated: 09:21 AM ET, Sat October 24 2015

Major Renovations Planned for Miami Beach Convention Center

Destination & Tourism | James Shillinglaw | October 24, 2015

Major Renovations Planned for Miami Beach Convention Center

PHOTO: The new Miami Beach Convention Center will debut in mid-2018. (renderings courtesy of the Miami Beach Convention Center)

Miami has long been a popular convention and meetings destination, but it’s lacked a modern, world-class facility to attract major conventions. That will change in 2018 when the Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) opens in a completely refurbished and expanded form that is expected to attract more convention business and even more visitors to the destination.

On Oct. 22 at the existing MBCC facility, Miami officials celebrated the unveiling of a $515 million Miami Beach Convention Center expansion and renovation project, which will replace the current center that first opened in 1958 and was subsequently renovated and doubled in size in 1989.  Construction will begin in phases in December 2015 immediately following the Art Basel Miami Beach event. The new center’s features are showcased in a dedicated website.

“This will be the center for creative collaboration. This is the future of Miami Beach,” said Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. “We are excited to be delivering what our convention center clients need in order to book future events in Miami Beach and also a new attraction for our residents and visitors.”

MBCC will be transformed into a state-of-the-art convention center and public space that is expected to attract new national and international events and conventions. The new LEED-certified center is being designed by Denver-based Fentress Architects, in collaboration with Arquitectonica, a Miami-based firm, and Dutch landscape company West 8.

Miami Beach’s revamped convention center is expected to generate an economic impact of $5 billion over 30 years. When completed, it will feature 505,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 60,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom, three 20,000-square-foot junior ballrooms, 59,000 square feet of breakout meeting spaces, 806 on-site rooftop parking spaces, and an additional 12 acres of surrounding parks and landscaped areas. The current parking lot across the street from MBCC will be transformed into a 5.8-acre green park with a food pavilion and large public areas for events.

The exterior of the new MBCC will feature a design that echoes the movement of breaking waves and the motion exhibited by a swimming manta ray. Aluminum fins protect the all-glass building facade, and will provide shading and rain protection at entrances.

Interior spaces will flood with natural daylight through the glass facade, and sunshade fins will help protect interior spaces from heat. The center also will incorporate works by major artists, including  Franz Ackermann, Elmgreen & Dragset, Elle Harvey, Joseph Kosuth, Sarah Morris and Joep Van Lieshout.

Historic Carl Fisher Clubhouse will be restored and repurposed into a use to better serve the city and residents. The original building had steps to the canal edge, and it is proposed to recreate these steps and build recreational lawns and public spaces around it for visitors to enjoy.

“The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors (GMCVB) proudly supports the new Miami Beach Convention Center,” said Bill Talbert, GMCVB president and CEO “It is a new day for the meetings and conventions industry in the destination. With this fully renovated regional facility, the meeting planner community will have access to a venue that is world-class and at par with the evolving infrastructure and booming development in our destination. We are now in a better position to compete for major conventions and shows that bring with them significant economic impact to our community.”

The new center has a guaranteed maximum price that is not to exceed $515 million. During a 30-month building schedule, the existing MBCC will continue to host shows and events, including Art Basel Miami Beach, since many halls will remain open during construction.

PHOTO: A new public park will be built on the existing parking lot across from the convention center. 

MBCC has hosted many top travel industry events in the past, including Seatrade Conference (also known as the Cruise Shipping Conference), the American Society of Travel Agents’ World Travel Congress, and a number of other travel agent-related events. Other major events held at the existing MBCC have included the fight between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston in 1964, the Republican National Convention in 1968 and the Democratic National Convention in 1972.

The first convention to use the new MBCC facility will be the American Health Information Management Association in September 2018. Other groups already booked for the new center include the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. 

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