San Diego Convention Center | Expansion

Playing off the original award-winning design of architect Arthur Erickson, the architects for Phase 2 chose to express the convention center’s nautical location with the use of expansive glass facades that provide a window to the maritime environment of the downtown marina district. The expansion adds more than 900,000 square feet to the original 1989 building design.

The new facility incorporates custom glass-clad barrel vaults as well as custom unitized curtainwall systems. The most challenging component of the expansion was renovating the convention center’s centerpiece; a 90,000 square foot pavilion created by a dramatic tensioned fabric structure designed by engineer Horst Berger. The extraordinary column-free space was unusable for much of the year due to the brisk breezes coming in off the bay. The expansion program included enclosing the open-sided pavilion in glass. Accomplishing this was complicated by the requirement that no loads could be transferred to the existing fabric structure.

The Enclos design team developed a wall system of glazed steel lattices to enclose the perimeter scallops of the space. The large exposed end of the space required the development of a steel truss system to cantilever from the floor of the existing structure to the curving interface of the overhead fabric membrane. The wall rises to a height of nearly 60´. The innovative truss system makes extensive use of stainless steel tension rods to minimize the structural profile of the truss elements. A simple glazing system is integrated directly to the flat surface of the rectangular outer chord of the trusses. The facility provides spectacular views of the bay and nearby downtown San Diego.



Facade Area:

sq ft


San Diego, CA




87 ft

General Contractor:

Perini Building Company, Tutor-Saliba Corporation


Deems Lewis & Partners, HNTB Corporation, Tucker Sadler Architects

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