San Antonio's Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Opens New Expansion
San Antonio has opened the newly renovated Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Fresh of a $325 million expansion (the largest capital improvement project in San Antonio's history), the facility's footprint has increased to 1.6 million square feet.
A new addition was built to the east, which will allow for the demolition of the original 1968 structure to the west. In place of the original structure will be an expansion of neighboring Hemisfair Park, providing enhanced opportunities for outdoor events.
The revamped convention center now has 514,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, including 86,500 square feet of column-free multi-purpose space and a 54,000 square foot Stars at Night Ballroom. There are 70 meeting spaces (including divisible breakout rooms) and an eco-friendly design using energy reduction materials.
The expanded center is set on the River Walk in historic downtown, placing attendees within walking distance to the city's historic sites, including the Alamo, as well as local restaurants, museums, theaters, shops and thousands of hotel rooms. Walls of windows bring in downtown views, including the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas.
The convention center celebrated the opening with the unveiling of “Liquid Crystal,” a public art installation by artist Jason Bruges that is located in the center’s new lobby atrium. Its 3,510 LCD interactive panels create a digital fountain effect where the flow depends upon the amount of people and activity filling the atrium. It is one of three new art installations in the center, showcasing San Antonio’s arts scene.
Nearby: St. Anthony Hotel
The convention center expansion comes as a nearby luxury hotel, The St. Anthony, has completed its own two-year restoration and update to its guestrooms, public spaces and dining venues. Overseeing the renovation at the 277-key property — a member of Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ Luxury Collection owned by BC Lynd — was Dallas-based interior architecture/design firm ForrestPerkins.
The hotel's 31,500 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space was restored and updated, as well as The St. Anthony Club, which uncovered its original bar designed by Draper and authentic Venetian tile floors. The hotel also added two new food and beverage venues: The Rebelle restaurant and a new cocktail lounge named Haunt.
Originally built in 1909, the hotel’s new design aesthetic was influenced by fiesta, San Antonio’s annual spring festival dating back to the late 19th century. The designers added traditional fiesta floral patterns and jewel tones into decorative elements throughout the hotel, including stylized carpets, upholstery, artwork and light fixtures.
Other highlights of the renovation include the restoration of the lobby, known locally as “Peacock Alley.” This space now has a Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano acquired by one-time owner Ralph W. Morrison after he purchased the hotel in 1935. The lobby also has soaring ceilings, elaborate molding and sculpted columns,complemented by an authentic Calacatta marble floor and a grand staircase.
The 277 guestrooms were also remodeled. This included updates to the 72 suites. Featuring black, white, gray and gold hues, the accommodations have hints of the hotel’s shade of green. The guestrooms’ bathrooms were also expanded and modernized, with vanities, oversized showers and marble and tile detail.
The restoration of The St. Anthony is part of The Luxury Collection brand’s $300 million dollar investment effort this year.