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New Orleans Convention Center announces major renovation

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A rendering of the new ballroom of the New Orleans Convention Center.


Exterior rendering of the New Orleans Convention Center.

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NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – the sixth largest Convention Center in the nation — will launch a $50 million renovation project this December that will result in the largest ballroom in New Orleans, to be dubbed “The Great Hall” in reference to the Convention Center’s first use as the Great Hall of the 1984 World’s Fair.

In addition, the Julia Street entrance will be enhanced to now provide visitors with a grand “sense of arrival” that befits a Convention Center in one of the world’s most favored convention destinations, New Orleans.

Hall A of the Convention Center will be re-configured to create a 60,000 square foot ballroom. The existing entrance will be transformed into a sunny, windowed entry plaza welcoming visitors to the Center, and offer a 4,660 square foot “junior” ballroom with a roof-top terrace, and a 4,700 square foot executive lounge. 

Design elements of the Great Hall will include:

  • 86,000 square feet of flexible function space
  • Finishes found in a hotel ballroom including milled carpet, wall coverings and a décor reflective of New Orleans unique style;
  • Advanced sound, lighting and technology capabilities;
  • Divisions that allow for several concurrent but independent session rooms.

The space will also retain standard features of an exhibit hall including utility floor boxes, rigging points, easy access and ample pre-function space.

The entryway and ballroom renovations follow $93 million in improvements made to the 27-year old facility over the past five years, including a complete makeover of the interior lobbies, a repainted exterior, lobby furniture, digital signage and key card entry at meeting rooms, and a fully redundant 1-GIG internet backbone.

Hall A and the La Louisiane ballroom represent the oldest phase of the Convention Center, having served as the Great Hall of the World’s Fair in 1984, the year before the building opened for business as the New Orleans Convention Center.

“A city that hosts as many major meetings as New Orleans does needs a major ballroom. We know this type of event space fulfills a need that our clients seek year after year,” said Bob Johnson, president/general manager of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Construction is scheduled to occur between November 2011 and December of 2012. The first clients to use the space will be the Society of Personality and Social Psychology in January, 2013.

The project will be funded without any external financing.

The architectural firms Manning Architects & Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, a joint venture with LMN Architects, designed the renovations. [June 28, 2011]

With 1.1 million square feet of contiguous exhibit space, an award winning staff and first class amenities, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCCNO) is the sixth largest convention center in the nation and a consistent Top 10 host of the largest number of conventions and tradeshows annually. A leading rainmaker of the city’s hospitality industry, MCCNO event activity has produced $39.12 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $2.19 billion in new tax revenue

LMN is one of the world’s leading convention center architects with more than 60 completed projects and a distinguished record of design recognition. LMN provides comprehensive planning and design services to create cultural arts venues, convention centers, education facilities, commercial and mixed-use developments, interiors, and urban plans that celebrate and enrich communities. The firm is widely recognized for distinctive, integrated design solutions that are highly responsive to specific social, cultural, economic and environmental influences.

Manning Architects (MA) and Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR), under the joint venture, MA/EDR, have been successful collaborators for over 20 years. MA is an architecture, interiors, and planning firm based in New Orleans and formed by Wm. Raymond Manning, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP BD+C in 1985. EDR was established by R. Allen Eskew, FAIA in 1986 now lead by a team of seven partners. The MA/EDR Joint Venture represents two of the most well-known, widely-published architectural practices in the city with a long-standing relationship as collaborators on projects such as the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the New Orleans Museum of Art Expansion, and most recently on a planning assignment for the New Orleans Hospitality Task Force. The Joint Venture focuses on projects of major civic importance and was formed to bring the benefit of both firms’ experience to important institutional improvements in the Greater New Orleans region.




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