In case you haven't heard, the Albuquerque Convention Center recently unveiled a $25 million transformation. The facelift updated everything from the exterior façade to the interior decor. From uniquely Albuquerque elements like an expanded selection of artwork from the city's public art collection, to modern upgrades like the installation of laptop bars, the center looks and feels like a brand new facility.
We caught up with the general manager, José García, to learn more about the scope of the changes.
ABQ365: Can you give us an overview of what improvements have been made to the center?
José García: The improvements to the center happened in two different phases, both aiming to achieve a look that better represents the unique characteristics of our area. You can read about all of the improvements - from paint to demolition - here. A few of my favorite renovations include the work done on the upper-level ballrooms in the west building, the beautiful 5600 square-foot addition (and outdoor deck!), the gas fireplace in the atrium area and new LED lighting.
The LED lights are a pretty big deal, right? Can you tell us a little more about them?
We are very excited about LED technology. I know you want to know more about the color changing LED lights in the Ballroom, but first we need to visit all of our lights. Over the past two years we have undergone a LED retrofit. What does this mean? It means that 99% of our lights have been switched from an incandescent or fluorescent bulb/fixture to an LED fixture. Additionally, the whole building is on a LUTRON lighting management system that helps us control entire rooms or each individual light. For example, if you have a meeting and there is a light above the projection screen and projector, we can individually turn of each light with the computer. No more engineers grabbing a ladder and unscrewing a light bulb.
Now onto the fun stuff, our color changing LED lights in the Ballroom. This is one of the most dynamic, if not the most dynamic, lighting systems in the state with over a million options and variations. Choose a color, choose a program ... the sky's the limit. These color changing LED lights transform the Ballroom with the push of a button.
Can you talk about some of the uniquely Albuquerque aspects of the ACC renovations?
Right when you walk in the center, the new, large windows allow for sunlight to shine in 310+ days a year. In La Sala (the atrium on the main level), everything from the carpet and the furniture to the rock-encased fireplace were deliberately chosen to reflect the uniqueness of our city. The carpet is actually a topographical map of Albuquerque.
The meeting rooms have big, beautiful wooden doors and the ballrooms have wood features on the ceiling that really have an Albuquerque feel. The exhibit halls, ballrooms and Kiva Auditorium have new portals that are reflective of the territorial style. Coming soon is a custom table being designed by a local artist that will really be the showcase piece of the Kiva Board Room. We can't wait to see that.
Speaking of seeing things, when can the public go in and take a look at the renovations?
They can come today if they want to. Just check in with our Guest Services team or stop by The Hub Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.
Let's talk budget. Can you explain how the project was funded?
The budget for the design and construction of the facelift was approximately $25 million and was funded by the city's debt refinancing plan. Roadway funding and 3% efficiency funding also contributed. Taxpayers did not see a tax increase in order to fund this project.
Are there any events coming up that are open to the public where renovations will be visible?
Yes! Check out all of our upcoming events here.
What's going on with Civic Plaza? Any exciting changes coming up?
Yes, we are continuing to build out events and work with stakeholders to make downtown and Civic Plaza a real "place to be." We worked with the City of Albuquerque to move Truckin' Tuesdays down to Civic Plaza and hosted the mid-week Civic Plaza Growers Market this summer in cooperation with Main Streets. There will definitely be more to come.
Editor's Note: This renovation project marks the center's first major remodel effort in more than 20 years. It was designed by Albuquerque's Dekker/Perich/Sabatini and built by construction firms Gerald Martin and Bradbury Stamm.