RENOVATING THE GREAT OUTDOORS: Work will begin this year at the Anaheim Convention Center, in Anaheim, Calif., on a project to increase the center’s outdoor and special-event space by 100,000 square feet. The multipurpose “Grand Plaza,” to be established in front of the center between two hotels, will include lush landscaping, walkways, fountains, and other water features, and can be used as outdoor function space or as a respite between meeting sessions.
to be nice to strangers, to open doors for them, to trust them —and perhaps even to engage with them in new business ven- tures.”
Feel-Good Spaces The power of well-designed public spaces is something that meet- ing destinations are increasingly discovering—with second- tier cities becoming especially proficient at integrating them into their conference infrastructure. A good example is Discovery Green, a 12-acre park created by a public-private partnership between the city of Houston and the nonprofit Discovery Green Conservancy. Built on space that formerly was occupied by park- ing lots, Discovery Green has had more than three million visi- tors and hosted more than 800 public and private events since it opened in 2008. The park mixes natural landscapes, such as tree-shaded
pathways, perfect for meditative walks, with numerous oppor- tunities for activity and interaction, from kayaking rentals to an outdoor reading room. “What makes Discovery Green
Convention Centers in HighlyWalkable Places
unique is the multitude of activities that happen in this urban park every day,” said Greg Ortale, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The park is surrounded by the hustle of downtown, but remains a tran- quil escape for those who go there.Whether you’re eight years old or 80, there’s something for everyone.” The park has had a demonstrable effect on attracting the
attention of meeting and event planners, Ortale said. “Dis- covery Green has definitely improved meeting planners’ per- ception of Houston,” Ortale said. “The park provides a much-needed bridge, from the [George R. Brown] Convention Center to the Central Business District and the other hotels, restaurants, and nightlife downtown has to offer.” He added: “Big events are also making use of the space. Discovery Green played a big role in the recent National Senior Olympics and the NCAA Men’s Final Four here in Houston. So the park is certainly a major selling point, making downtown more pedes- trian-friendly to convention attendees.”
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6. Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, San Antonio
Walk Score: 91 The convention center’s
64 pedestrian-friendly status is
secured by its location along the RiverWalk, the main artery of downtown San Antonio, which is being expanded from three miles to 15. Similarly, the convention center—which is adjacent to lush HemisFair Park—has added an outdoor plaza that immerses visitors in the city’s downtown.
pcma convene February 2012
7. Salt Palace, Salt Lake City
Walk Score: 91 The $2-billion City Creek Center,
which will feature
outdoor space and a mix of residential, restaurant, and retail space, opens on 23 acres this year. The center will include an out- door pedestrian shopping mall and six acres of public spaces, adding to Salt Lake City’s downtown renaissance.