By Andra Bennett, APR
The City of Fort Worth has selected Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, Inc. (TVS), a global architectural design firm teaming with local firm Bennett Partners, to deliver design and construction administration services for the first phase of the Fort Worth Convention Center’s expansion.
The expansion project will take place in two phases and the facility will remain operational during both. The first phase includes the construction of new state-of-the-art food & beverage facilities, demolition of the annex, realignment of Commerce Street to create a site pad for a future convention hotel and rebuilding the center’s loading docks. This phase is expected to begin construction in mid 2023 and be completed in 2026.
“TVS has the reputation, experience, and vision that will make our convention center a memorable destination in its own right, and Bennett Partners is a well-respected local expert in the industry,” said Mike Crum, director of Public Events for the City of Fort Worth. “With all the momentum on the southeastern side of downtown with new residential property, new hotels and the Texas A&M campus expansion, we’re looking forward to welcoming larger events and more visitors than ever to Fort Worth.”
Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., TVS is one of the world’s leading convention center designers with major new build, expansion, and renovation projects in Las Vegas, New York City, Nashville, Puerto Rico, Panama, Canada and throughout China.
“Fort Worth is an amazing destination with a huge untapped potential for attracting the widest range of meetings and events,” said TVS Principal Rob Svedberg, FAIA. “TVS is thrilled to be part of this historic project that will establish Fort Worth at the forefront of the most important industry trends, anchor the south side of Main Street, and energize the entire convention district.”
Award-winning architectural planning and design firm Bennett Partners brings deep community knowledge to the project. Their recent developments in Fort Worth include the restoration of the historic Horse and Mule Barns in the Stockyards, downtown’s Frost Tower, the Kimpton Harper Hotel, the Museum of Living Art in the Fort Worth Zoo and Sundance Square Plaza’s Westbrook and Cassidy buildings.
“Like many of us from the Fort Worth area, I grew up attending events at the arena and the convention center, so I’m especially honored that a Fort Worth-based firm will have a meaningful role on the design team,” said Michael Bennett, principal and CEO of Bennett Partners. “This is a fantastic opportunity for Fort Worth to create a true convention district that will catalyze additional development in the southern part of downtown.”
The convention center expansion, which had been planned for several years to accommodate larger conventions and group meetings, was about to begin with robust funding from hotel occupancy taxes when the COVID-19 shutdown began in 2020. After a pandemic-induced pause, the Fort Worth City Council approved $52 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in December 2021 to support the first phase of planned expansion of the city-owned convention center. Broaddus & Associates, Inc. is serving as project manager in partnership with Elements of Architecture, Inc.
The second phase of the project will include the demolition of the 1968 arena and create approximately 97,000 square feet of net new exhibit hall space, 48,000 square feet of flexible meeting rooms, a new 50,000 square foot ballroom (twice the size of the current ballroom), as well as renovations to the current facility, which was expanded in 2003. This phase will be funded when hospitality taxes recover to the point where they can support the issuance of debt to fund the construction.
Andra Bennett, APR, is Marketing Communications Manager for the City of Fort Worth Public Events.