JOSA LAMONT | NEWS EDITOR
The Riverside Convention Center welcomed more than 1000 people with open doors to the 65,000 square feet of newly remodeled collaborative community space Mar 1. The grand opening celebrated the end of a two-year project to modernize and restyle the Riverside Convention Center.
The project began February 2012 as part of a $1.6 billion project to improve downtown. The starting bid for the project was $36 million and escalated $7.6 million with the addition of an outdoor meeting area and added construction costs.
The project cost $43.6 million to construct, which the city borrowed to build the center and plans to pay back with hospitality tax revenue.
“The response to the entire facility, inside and out, has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Debbi Guthrie, senior vice president of the convention center.
The new space emphasizes a social element for conferencing and meetings, as well as technical upgrades that bring the building up to date.
The Center features an additional 20,000 square feet of gathering space on an outdoor patio that promotes conversation and interaction outside of planned or scheduled meetings. The facade combines glass and clean lines with archways and a tower for a contrast of modernism and tradition.
“Based on the comments that we have received, the community is thrilled that the architects were able to incorporate an ‘iconic piece of architecture within the city’s fabric’ in keeping with the traditional Spanish and Mission-style that is so common in the city,” said Guthrie.
Architect DLR Group WWCOT brought the modern flare and classic styling to the design that the Riverside City Council voted unanimously to implement. That enthusiasm was a stark contrast to other design proposals that couldn’t be agreed on, due to lack of “a wow factor” or “feeling too ‘60s” according to reports from 2012 city council members.
In addition to aesthetic appeal, the building now functions optimally with sustainable designs, Wi-Fi, high-tech security and new age technology.
The building boasts drought tolerant plants, low energy LED lighting, occupant sensors and “theater-quality audio/visual features,” according to
The center can now productively accommodate 25-3,000 people for events ranging from meetings to trade shows.