Virginia beach plays home to striking convention center from SOM
The Virginia Beach Convention Center (VBCC) demonstrates SOM’s ability to look beyond an immediate project site in terms of community growth. Since its completion, VBCC has become the centerpiece of a 40-year master plan to green Virginia Beach and reinvigorate the classic beach resort town.
Design inspiration came from the region’s past, present, and future. A soaring 147-foot glass and steel tower pays homage to the city’s historic lighthouse, while lightweight trusses support an energy-saving glass curtain wall that curves around the entrance. The lobby features a panoramic video screen that displays both commissioned digital artwork and convention information. Cutting-edge technology is also on display in a cellular phone enhancement system that enables conference attendees to locate one another and navigate the facility without difficulty.
Working with the city of Virginia Beach, SOM designed 505,000 sq ft of space with several energy-efficient initiatives: lighting and HVAC systems programmed to conserve electricity during off hours, energy-efficient windows that limit UV penetration, naturally rot- and insect-resistant Cumaru wood flooring and decks, and effective storm water retention systems. In 2008, VBCC’s energy bill decreased by 13%. These sustainable design initiatives assisted the center in achieving “Virginia Green” certification from a statewide program to reduce the environmental impacts of the tourism industry.
The center includes four easily reconfigurable sub-halls with 40 ft ceilings and a 240-foot clear span roof. A significant feat of engineering, VBCC’s roof is one of the largest column-free spans in the U.S. The facility also contains a grand ballroom, meeting rooms, and a community-oriented park landscaped with plants that tolerate draughts and conserve water.
Since its opening, the convention center has significantly raised the community profile, acting as a catalyst for new development and inspiring the Virginia Beach community with a compelling vision of what their city can become.