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New meeting rooms in convention center opening Jan. 7

As part of a ribbon cutting ceremony and news conference Jan. 7, at 9:30 a.m., the most recently renovated meeting rooms located off of the 13th and Central streets entrance into the convention center will be opened officially. Festivities for this “Extreme Makeover” will continue from noon until 6:30 p.m.

This $20 million project, which was finished in only four and a half months, is the initial portion of a $135 million project which includes adding a ballroom of 40,500 square feet located off of 16th and Wyandotte streets.

“This massive renovation effort is the result of a lot of hard work of hundreds of individuals to bring our customers a state of the art meeting facility,” said Oscar McGaskey, director of the Convention and Entertainment Centers Department.

“From the outset of this project, focus groups were assembled to address the clients’ needs in a very direct and comprehensive way. The end result is a facility that is essentially brand new,” McGaskey said.

The renovations were designed by HNTB Architecture to update and complement the convention center, which was designed by Helmut Jahn and for which he was awarded an AIA Chicago Chapter Award in 1975.

The interior architecture and finishes are simple, classic and modern. The finish palette is warm and neutral, making it well-suited to be adapted by vendors and show designers to suit their individual needs. The finish palette employs extensive amounts of sapele and mahogany wood veneers, with accents of stainless steel and aluminum. The wood was grown in managed forests, which are reclaimed land used to re-grow native species promoting sustainable, healthy growth. Additional materials in the finish palette include blue pearl granite, cast architectural glass, fabric wrapped panels, and sculpted metal ceiling panels.

More than 50 percent of the facility was demolished to create a better meeting environment which includes these improvements and additions:

    Better circulation routes and way-finding signs

    ADA accessibility

    Larger meeting rooms

    New board rooms with wireless capability, projection screens, display rail, and marker board surfaces and credenzas

    Improved acoustics and ventilation in all the meeting rooms

    A state of the art projection system in pre-function space for vendors to use

    A new business service center and sundries store.

The digital addressable lighting interface protocol system added to the convention center as part of the renovation is the largest and most complex of its kind currently the United States. This is a standard protocol that defines how ballasts have to perform, and allows for individual control of each ballast. This versatility of control offers optimal flexibility of light levels, accommodating a multitude of room area uses including video presentation, product display, classroom style lecture, general meetings and celebratory events. This system allows for improved performance and efficiencies in management of control of lighting, as well as energy conservation.

In March 2005, the structural components for the new 40,500-square foot ballroom will be built. The new ballroom is the next component in the project and is expected to be finished in 2007.

“The completion of this project will help provide the momentum and energy Kansas City needs to look forward to the projects that have recently opened or are coming online in downtown Kansas City,” McGaskey said.

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