If you’ve been in the trade show world very long, you’ve spent countless hours inside convention centers. You can probably name your favorite (and not-so-favorite) ones based on location, layout, or aesthetics. (Feel free to share in the comments.)
While we may not all agree on which convention centers we like best, there’s one thing we can agree on – their importance in our local cultures and business advancement.
BusinessWeek has an insightful, in-depth article from the perspective of architects at Populous who design convention centers around the world. (Which just happens to be based right here in Kansas City.) I like how the reporter refers to the buildings hosting “organized professional fun,” where people come together and “magic happens.” That’s probably how most of us like to think of the events and trade shows we attend.
But let’s not forget that convention centers have also served as shelters and makeshift hospitals for the communities they serve as well. The article provides perspective on the history and how the design of these massive buildings has evolved over the decades, from giant empty boxes to artistic, multi-functional gathering spaces. (There’s even a peek at a few renderings of upcoming renovation projects that Populous is working on.)
What might the future hold for convention centers, both in design and function? It will be fun to see how they evolve.
No matter what convention centers look like, I’m sure their function will still be, in the words of Rohit Bhargava, “Gathering the smartest minds in a profession together face to face for future-shifting conversations inspires hope.”