Meydenbauer Convention Center Interior Renovations

Bellevue, Washington

Project Size:

Renovated area: 51,600 square feet

Project Status:

Completed 2015

Vision
The renovation enhances the Meydenbauer Convention Center as a destination experience for downtown Bellevue, engaging with the community infrastructure of surrounding blocks and expressing the city’s sophisticated identity as a unique setting for visitors from around the world. The interior design celebrates the convention center as an extension of the public realm – an open civic meeting place filled with daylight, activity, and rich detail. The project continues LMN’s relationship with the Meydenbauer Convention Center, including strategic renovation and planning over several years starting with the 2007 conversion of the exhibition hall to a highly successful multi-use ballroom space.

Site and Program
Originally opened in 1993, the Meydenbauer Convention Center has always been a prominent downtown Bellevue landmark. Now situated at the core of a vibrant mixed-use retail and residential development, the facility provides delegates premium access to hotels, shopping, and restaurants. The strength of this central location is expected to grow substantially with the completion of the Sound Transit East Link light rail system in 2023, including a planned pedestrian connection between the convention center and the downtown station. The 2015 interior renovations represent another step in the facility’s long-term planning, anticipating future expansion and a possible hotel co-development.

The renovation scope encompasses all pre-function spaces and meeting rooms on 3 event levels connected by a four-story atrium hall, with dramatic upgrades to finishes, lighting, furniture, and wayfinding. Newly imagined interstitial spaces between meeting rooms increase the range of programming options, while the 400-seat theater space is refinished to expand its functionality as a multi-use business, training, and performance facility.

Design
Serving as a front door and urban living room for downtown Bellevue, the atrium welcomes the buzz of pre-function gathering and offers glimpses of activity in the upper-level balcony overlooks. Circulation spaces in the upper levels are animated by custom light fixtures and rich finishes, making them suitable to host a variety of meetings in addition to the formal meeting rooms. The result is to expand the functionality and flexibility of the facility and generate new opportunities for spontaneous encounters.

The interior design strategy makes economical moves to transformative effect. Tilting wood wall panels in the atrium break down its four-story volume to a human scale, and give meaningful texture to the daylight from clerestory skylights. Dramatic shafts of programmable LED light cut through the atrium’s wood panels, which can change color to suit the mood of particular events, or give the facility a new identity at night as the overhead light dims. Color is applied strategically throughout the facility as a wayfinding element. In contrast to the warm tones of wood and copper ochre that clad the interior volumes, entrances to major program spaces are painted with a bright “Meydenbauer green” that pops in a visual rhythm, clearly distinguishing visitor spaces.