Clark/Smoot, a joint venture of Clark Construction Group, LLC of Bethesda, Md. and the Sherman R. Smoot Company of Washington, D.C., served as the construction manager on the facility. For the last four years, Clark/Smoot supervised up to 1500 construction workers a day, including Clark Foundations and Clark Concrete, subsidiaries of Clark Construction responsible for completing the gigantic underground component that houses 40% of the facility.
“We anticipate and expect that this magnificent facility will quickly come to be known as the nation’s convention center,” said Lewis H. Dawley III, general manager and chief executive of the Washington Convention Center Authority.
City and hospitality industry leaders believe, when fully operational, the facility is the catalyst that will bring 17,000 jobs and $1.5 billion into the economy, luring back some of the large conventions that have bypassed the District because of its outdated convention center, built in the early 1980’s.
Architects from three firms - Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, Devrouax & Purnell and Mariani Architects Engineers - placed 40% of the building below ground, to lessen the visual impact of the building’s massive size, and split the above ground portion into three sections to blend it with the neighborhood. The 500,000-square-foot exhibition hall is the main feature found underground.
The new facility is big enough to host several shows at one time or have one major show moving out while another moves in. Expected to attract 3 million visitors a year, the new center has already booked 110 trade shows, conventions and meetings for 2003, far above the booking rate for most newly opened centers. Through 2008, nearly 400 events are scheduled, with room for more.
“The convention center puts the city on a whole new plane, where we can compete with New York and San Francisco and really be seen as this international city,” said Barbara Lang, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce.
Clark Construction Group, LLC is headquartered in Bethesda, Md.