San Jose’s Phenomenal Convention Center Debut

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San Jose Convention Center

The San Jose McEnery Convention Center finally debuted its new $130 million renovation with an October gala event that even Bugs Bunny attended.

The dinner event celebrated the 125,000 sf addition to the center’s ballroom and meeting space, creating a facility that now totals 550,000 sf. The night consisted of a performance of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II played by Symphony Silicon Valley, which created a playful theme for the grand opening. An orange carpet in honor of the Looney Tunes character’s favorite snack greeted attending guests. Drinks such as a Carrotini and Tasmanian Devil were served before guests entered the newly renovated ballroom where they ate dinner and watched the performance.

“The remodeled convention center will attract bigger events and ensure that Team San Jose clients will keep returning and growing with us,” says Karolyn Kirchgesler, Team San Jose’s CEO. “I am excited about celebrating one of the city’s latest marquee developments to attract meetings and conventions, welcome new visitors to our community and contribute to the vibrancy of downtown.”

Guests are greeted by Idea Tree, an interactive public artwork that honor’s Silicon Valley’s creative idea landscape when entering the facility. The art installation consists of a freestanding sound booth where visitors can leave a short voice message. They are prompted by questions that ask the speaker to state their favorite quote or an idea that inspires them. Then, beneath the tree structure, people can listen to the messages that are wirelessly transmitted to create a truly inspiring and memorable experience. At the gala event, messages ranged from thought-provoking words of wisdom to enthusiastic cheers about local sports teams—both of which left visitors with a sense of community pride.

“We live in a dynamic age, so public art cannot afford to remain as static objects of passive enjoyment,” says Idea Tree artist and architect Soo-in Yang. “Through my work, public art becomes a domain for active public participation and discussion, which is the concept behind Idea Tree.”

Several of the public spaces within the convention center also inspired this sense of collaboration and technology. For instance, the stairs in the convention center lobby provide outlets for meeting attendees to plug-in, as well as a space to sit and network outside of the more formal ballroom setting. The Hub, or lobby lounge, provides a naturally lit space for networking, too. Plus, the terrace located outside the ballroom provides another networking space—perfect for receptions or simply a fresh-air break between meetings.