Flexibility is Key for Convention Centers

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Convention Center Infrastructure

How can a venue take a huge sports arena or a wide-open trade show floor and turn it into a space that can host small, intimate events—while retaining the ability to use the whole space for a national convention?

The solution is flexibility, noted Patrick Finn, Product Manager for J.R. Clancy, Inc. “The ability to host an event that is both small and intimate or large and grandiose in the same location—that’s the kind of solution that boosts revenue for convention centers,” he said. “To be able to use a space for a small gathering, a large corporate party, or a major conference can make the hall a flexible or multi-purpose venue for all kinds of events that were not achievable before.”

Dramatic Expansion. Working with John Sergio Fisher Architects and the nationwide facilities management company SMG, J.R. Clancy brought unprecedented flexibility and ease of use to the decades-old Long Beach Arena in California. The arena, originally designed as a sports venue, had expanded its client base dramatically since it opened in the 1960s. It required a new solution, one that could transform a space quickly and efficiently from one event to another.

The design for the arena’s Pacific Ballroom includes the largest flying truss and tension grid in the United States. The tension grid can fly up and down—a new capability for a grid of this size—and it features a surrounding curtain wall that divides the house into halves or thirds as an event requires, blocking the view of the arena’s tiered seating to give attendees the sense of being in a room.

Massive, But Simple. J. R. Clancy provided the high-capacity hoists (84,000 pounds each) and control system for the grid configuration, and also installed the lighting and sound infrastructure. The massive grid system contains more than $1.6 million in fully integrated LED lighting instruments hanging over the 45,000-square-foot convention floor. The entire system can be controlled from a simple user interface: a wireless pendant controller.

Using the grid system, changeovers that once required a large crew can now be done in a matter of minutes—raising or lowering the ceiling, lowering the draperies, and changing the lighting to create the atmosphere for the next event. “The venue can provide the right look to create a fitting setting for the next event,” said Finn. “This makes the difference in giving a convention hall an intimate atmosphere.”

You can learn more about J. R. Clancy’s solutions for arenas and convention centers this week at the International Convention Center Conference in Atlanta, Ga.

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