Greater Columbus Convention Center

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Columbus Convention Logo.JPG
Front entrance to the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Downtown Columbus, Ohio.

The Greater Columbus Convention Center is a convention center located in downtown Columbus, Ohio, United States, along the east side of High Street.

The convention center was designed by Peter Eisenman, constructed in 1993, and expanded in 1999. Property management company SMG oversees day-to-day operations of the 1,700,000-square-foot (160,000 m2) facility, including 426,000 square feet (39,600 m2) of exhibit space, two ballrooms, and 61 meeting rooms.[1]


The facade facing High Street
  • 1989 - Design Competition (won by Peter Eisenman)
  • 1993 - Convention center opened to the public
  • 1999 - $81 million, 300,000-square-foot (28,000 m2) expansion begins
  • 2001 - Expansion is completed

Major Events[edit]

On the morning of January 9, 2008 a major water main break was detected, possibly beneath the building. Officials from the Columbus Division of Fire were concerned that part of the building, including the main hall, might collapse due to structural failure. It was soon determined, however, that the building was not in any danger.[2]

Annual Expositions[edit]

Interior of the facility

Exhibition Halls[edit]

Dimensions & Specifications[edit]

Hall Name ft2 Dimensions (ft x ft) Seating Capacity Booths Overhead Clearance
Battelle Hall 90,000 207 x 314 / 207 x 120 7,500 321 33'
Hall C 98,000 270 x 360 8,000 530 30'
Hall D 118,000 330 x 360 8,000 630 30'
Hall E 61,980 298 x 208 302 30'
Hall F 45,660 207 x 237.5 206 30'
Hall C & D 216,000 600 x 360 16,000 1,160 30'
Hall E & F 118,900 505 x 237.5 687 30'


USGS satellite photo of the Greater Columbus Convention Center prior to the 1999-2001 expansion. The expansion occupies the parking lot seen just north of the original building.

While the Columbus Convention Center is considered an outlandish design to many[who?][citation needed][weasel words], the true plan developed by Eisenman was limited by money. Because of this, the original materials and finishes desired were cheapened to fit within the budget of the project. What resulted was a series of interesting geometries with little architectural development.[3]

In an attempt to tame the large volume, Eisenman created a series of separate pavilions on the High Street facade, predictably canted at odd angles. These pavilions were intended to echo the rhythm of the brick facades on the opposite side of the street. The metallic colors originally proposed for the pavilions would have lent greater definition, but the pavilions are nonetheless blank.[3]

These pavilions initiate long, curving volumes which extend back to the truck loading docks along the rear. These volumes were designed to resemble trains in a trainyard from overhead. Along the street facade these volumes coincide with meeting rooms, the grand ballroom, and eating facilities. In the main exhibition space, however, they simply run above the supporting trusses without regard to the structural or spatial grid below.[3]

The general plan of the convention center is quite simple and functional. A major circulation spine runs from the parking lot through the complex to a pedestrian bridge which crosses a series of railroad tracks leading to the Hyatt Regency and shopping areas beyond. Most of the meeting rooms and offices are located on the High Street side of the spine, while the opposite side is dominated by the gargantuan exhibit area. This spine extends up to the roof level, with skylights bringing natural light directly into the interior corridor. Balconies overlooking the space from the meeting room side create a series of intersecting viewpoints. These are further enhanced by the level change in the circulation spine; from the connecting bridge over the railroad tracks where one descends a bank of escalators which slowly reveals the complex spatial nature of this central spine.[3]

Peter Eisenman relied on collaboration for his conceptualization of the design for the convention center. Richard Trott, who worked with Eisenman on the Wexner Center, also worked closely with Eisenman in the early stages of this design before he died in 1990. Eisenman was a strong believer in collaboration. “I believe that is always necessary to work with local architecture firms on major projects, because local firms understand their communities. With a commitment to integrate the design into the neighborhood, Richard provided not only this insight into Columbus, but much more,” said Eisenman.[4] Richard Trott’s contributions were highly important in the success of the convention center’s ability to relate to its surroundings. Because of the scale of convention centers, they tend to harshly contrast the surrounding buildings. They also tend to fail to engage pedestrians. It was a goal of Eisenman and Trott to not let Columbus’s convention center have these problems. “We have rebuilt High Street, respecting the scale of the North Market and the Short North, opening the Convention Center to the pedestrian life of High by taking heavy commercial traffic associated with the Center off that street,” said Eisenman in the executive summary. Columbus, especially along High Street, has a tradition of narrow buildings with articulated facades. The design for the Convention Center reflects this tradition through the bar system. It allows a huge structure to be read as a series of separate facades which helps the building relate to the pedestrian. However, this was not merely a façade system. These bars relate to the scale of meeting rooms and concourses on the interior of the building. Eisenman and Trott’s goal was for the convention center to be an active part of Columbus, not just a location to flock to for the occasional event. The design allowed the placement of the cafeteria to be adjacent to the concourses as well as the street. This allowed for a sidewalk café so that the building could become part of the daily life of the city.[5]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°58′18″N 83°00′02″W / 39.97162°N 83.00054°W / 39.97162; -83.00054


  1. ^ "Greater Columbus Convention Center Profile". CitySearch. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  2. ^ "Water-main break closes N. High St., threatens structural integrity of convention center". The Columbus Dispatch. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Eisenman's Chip-Board Fantasy". Robison, Elwin C. 1994. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  4. ^ "Columbus Convention Center". Croquis 83: 80. 1997. 
  5. ^ Trott/Eisenman Architects (1989). Columbus Convention Center.