Ebay had just launched; “Toy Story” premiered in theaters; Operation Desert Storm officially ended; and Alanis Morissette released her award-winning album “Jagged Little Pill.” A lot has changed since 1995, the year Los Angeles Convention Center was most recently renovated, yet the facility has remained almost frozen in time. It shows in the meetings industry, which has been taking citywides elsewhere (San Diego hosted more than 60 last year, compared to L.A.’s 26).
Robert “Bud” Ovrom, executive director of the new Los Angeles Department of Convention & Tourism Development, is out to change that. While Ovrom is up for the feat, he’s candid about the challenges he and his team face in trying to complete the project by the 2020 target date. “Our space, quite frankly, is very tired and underperforming as a result,” says Ovrom.
The first step toward change was launching a competition for a new design. Out of 11 teams, the Kansas City, Missouri-based architecture firm Populous submitted the winning plan, led by Michael Lockwood, senior principal and architect. In a nutshell, the plan calls for integrating the building with the nearby $2.5 billion L.A. Live entertainment complex, home to, among other desirable venues, Microsoft Theater, Club Nokia, Grammy Museum, and a dual-branded JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotel.
“Conventioneers are not only going to the convention center, they’re going to L.A.,” says Lockwood.