George R Brown Convention Center Renovation


Houston First Corporation


Construction Cost
$176 million

Completion Date
December 2016

Project Size
123,000 SF plaza
186,000 SF convention center

George R Brown Convention Center Renovation


Originally completed in the fall of 1987, the convention center’s distinctive design is meant to reflect the city’s oil and gas-based economy. Despite two major space expansions as well as construction of a connected Hilton hotel, convention business declined through the years as newer venues opened in competing cities. Super Bowl LI, slated for Houston in February 2017, served as a catalyst to help reshape downtown’s east end into a vibrant new focal point of the city.

A major project aspiration was to move the focus of the convention center from the second level to the ground level by adding three atrium lobbies and two restaurants to the front of the building. These elements are tied together by a large cantilevered trellis that appears to hover effortlessly over the new lobbies. While it appears to be a solid canopy from afar, the trellis is actually made up of a series of 5-inch diameter pipes. In addition to serving as a signature architectural feature, the trellis functions as rigging support for concerts and events in the public space in front of the center.

Additional modifications included creating several column-free spaces inside the building and a pedestrian-friendly space along the front of the convention center. This plaza, which includes a water fountain with kinetic sculpture and a catenary “wharf” structure, connects the convention center to adjacent Discovery Green park.

By February 2017, the project was complete and welcomed a global audience for Super Bowl LI. The GRB’s renovated façade greets visitors and presents a dynamic new front door for Houston’s most important public meeting space. The refreshed and exciting new space for both Houstonians and visitors has been lauded by the owner as a huge success.