New convention center is the cornerstone of new Virginia Beach development
The Virginia Beach Convention Center (VBCC) demonstrates SOM’s ability to look beyond an immediate project site to foster community growth. Since its completion, VBCC has become the centerpiece of a 40-year master plan to green Virginia Beach and reinvigorate a classic oceanside 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 on display in a cellular phone enhancement system that enables conference attendees to locate one another and navigate the facility without difficulty.
SOM, working in collaboration with the city of Virginia Beach, 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 reconfigurable sub-halls, each with 40-foot ceilings and a 240-foot clear span roof. 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 draught tolerant plants and collected and reused rainwater.
Since opening, the convention center has significantly raised the community profile and acted as a catalyst for new development, inspiring the Virginia Beach community with a compelling vision of what their city can be.