The Javits renovation plan includes a new 22-acre “living” roof that will provide a green space said to be as large as Central Park’s Great Lawn.

NEW YORK - While the HVACR industry gathers in New York for its 60th annual International Air-Conditioning, Heating Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), the Jacob K. Javits Center will be continuing to develop plans for a renovation that will place it among the nation’s top expo centers.

The construction and renovation of Javits exemplify some of the same trends affecting HVACR market segments. According to a study by The Freedonia Group, the expected growth of the market ($14.5 billion by 2009) is being driven by increases in nonresidential construction, as well as residential remodeling.

Javits management is expanding and renovating the facility with several goals in mind. First, the renovation is hoped to bring more business and tourism to that section of the city. Renovation work will focus on meeting LEED certification requirements and generally improving the facility’s energy and environmental impacts. Finally, but not least importantly, the addition of facilities such as a hotel, restaurants, and entertainment areas, is expected to put Javits on par with other major facilities, such as Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The overall expansion will expand the convention center to 1.5 million square feet in combined meeting and exhibition space. According to Patrick Green, P.E., of Javits II Architecture, LLC, “Currently there are a few schemes being evaluated relating to the extent and the nature of the expansion-renovation of the Javits Center. The schemes vary considerably in terms of scope and will therefore influence the design of the accompanying HVAC systems.”

He confirmed that where feasible, the new system would be integrated into the existing Javits HVAC system. In addition, “There will be the replacement of, or upgrades to, systems that have reached the end of their useful lives, or that could benefit from any technical advancements that have taken place since the original construction/installation.”

The types of equipment being installed, he said, “will be a function of the selected scheme; the scope of the renovation-expansion will serve as guide, to determine what makes the most sense.”

The designs have been in the works for nine years by Saint Louis’ HOK (Hellmuth, Obata, + Kassabaum), and will be executed by lead designer Kenneth Drucker and principal-in-charge Sam Spata. Among the more ambitious parts of the plan are a 50-story, 1,500-room hotel with a glass-shingled façade; an esplanade along the Hudson River; and a 6,000-seat ballroom. The building’s new 22-acre “living” roof will provide a green space as large as Central Park’s Great Lawn.

Architectural firm Richard Rogers Partnership, FXFowle Architects PC, and A. Epstein and Sons International Inc., were selected by the New York Convention Center Development Corporation (CCDC) board of directors to design plans for the expansion and renovation. The mechanical systems are being designed by Flack + Kurz, New York.

“To date, no formal decision has been made regarding any of the schemes under consideration,” said Green. That being the case, it stands to reason that “at this stage, no subcontractors have been formally brought on board, although there have been discussions with subcontractors pertaining to procurement and feasibility in vetting certain design concepts.”

According to the CCDC, a new/renovated hot- and chilled-water thermal energy facility would replace the existing cooling-heating system serving Javits; and provide condenser water, chilled water, and boiler capacity for the Phase I expansion, including a convention hotel. The system would be designed to expand to serve Phase II.

The multiuse buildings and applications will include more than 1 million square feet of conditioned space. The firm will need to use processes and procedures “necessary to ensure the operation of equipment at or better than published efficiencies throughout the duration of the O&M [operations and maintenance] contract.”


Like many other convention facilities, the need for Javits to grow and renovate was fueled by comments that the existing Javits facility was in need of repair, too small for large displays, and lacking in facilities for today’s increasingly larger expos, explained the CCDC. As a result, expos and conventions are attracted to locations with facilities that better meet their space requirements.

Chicago’s McCormick Place, for example, contains nearly 2.2 million square feet of exhibition hall space (including 1.6 million square feet on one level), 345,000 square feet of meeting room space, a 45,000-square-foot ballroom, and 8,000 parking spaces after expansions in 1986, 1996, and 1997. Full-service bars, cafes, and restaurants are located throughout the complex. A full-service truck marshalling yard can accommodate up to 500 trucks at McCormick, said the CCDC.

The Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., contains nearly 2.1 million square feet of exhibition hall space, approximately 420,000 square feet of meeting room space, two 92,000-square-foot general assembly areas, a 62,000-square-foot multipurpose room (ballroom space), and 6,200 parking spaces. Three full-service restaurants and eight food courts are located within the center, and three covered loading docks contain 173 truck bays.

Javits is currently 16th in size in relation to the nation’s other convention centers, said the CCDC. For it to compete for the nation’s larger conventions and events, it would need to:

• Expand the amount of prime exhibition space to create a significant area of contiguous space (more than 500,000 square feet) while providing large amounts of additional meeting space.

• Provide ballroom space.

• Bring the facility into a state of good repair.

• Create an efficient truck marshalling and loading facility.

• Provide for a large, directly connected headquarters hotel.

Javits today contains approximately 760,000 square feet of exhibition space, 30,000 square feet of meeting space, and approximately 665,000 square feet of prefunction, support, and staging areas. The North Pavilion, a temporary structure erected on the south side of W. 39th St., contains an additional 54,400 square feet of exhibition space.

“The Javits lacks a sufficient amount of prime exhibition space, including an inadequate amount of contiguous space, to attract the largest conventions and trade shows,” said the CCDC. “The main exhibit hall area contains Javits’ largest prime contiguous exhibit space of approximately 410,000 square feet, with few columns and ceiling heights of at least 33 feet in most of the area. The lower level of exhibit halls has lower ceiling heights of 18 feet and significantly more columns, rendering this space less than prime.”

In addition, Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC, the state’s economic development agency) described the existing facility as being “critically deficient in meeting room space. For a convention center of its size, Javits has a very small quantity of meeting room space, resulting in the lowest ratio (1:25) of meeting space to exhibit space of all major competing convention centers around the country.” There currently is no ballroom space.

“Other convention center ratios of meeting and ballroom space to exhibit space typically range from 1:8 to 1:2,” said ESD. “This indicates a severe deficiency of meeting and ballroom space relative to exhibit space. This deficiency places the Javits at a serious competitive disadvantage.”

The existing space also was found to be “in immediate need of repair and renovation. For example, roof leaks are a persistent problem during heavy rain, and the HVAC system is in significant need of an upgrade. Both problems detrimentally impact operations.”

Several studies, including a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study commissioned by the New York Convention Center Operating Corporation (CCOC) in 2004, found that if Javits were renovated and expanded, it could greatly improve service to existing shows and capture a larger share of the national convention/trade show market. In particular, the studies pointed out an opportunity to garner an increased share of the professional association convention business.

“If Javits were larger,” said the CCOC, “had a substantially greater amount of prime exhibition space, including a significant increase in contiguous space, an appropriate number of meeting rooms, a ballroom, and a headquarters hotel, Javits could book substantially more business.

“If Javits is not expanded and upgraded, its ranking in terms of prime exhibition space, meeting space, and flexible ballroom space will deteriorate further in comparison to major competitors that are currently undergoing or planning extensive expansions. Without expansion and a substantial upgrade, Javits events will become more limited in number, scope and duration, and the economic impact of larger, more frequent events, both within and beyond Javits, will be diminished.


The expansion of the Javits Center will increase exhibit and meeting room space from approximately 790,000 square feet to more than approximately 1.3 million square feet in the first phase, enabling it to host virtually any convention or trade show, according to the CCDC.

The expansion is expected to add an estimated $53 million in combined annual tax revenue for the city and state, in addition to the $97 million it already provides. The corporation also estimates that the expansion will create thousands of new, permanent jobs.

The Javits expansion will take place in two phases, with Phase I expanding south to 33rd Street and north to 40th Street, and include a 1,500-room headquarters hotel. The expansion will create the largest ballroom in New York City, capable of holding 6,000 people. Private financing of $200 million will help to finance the convention center hotel.

Phase 1 is expected to cost $1.4 billion, funded through several sources. The city will contribute $350 million under a Memorandum of Understanding, and the state will contribute $350 million through a state-supported credit in conjunction with a restructuring of existing Javits Center bonds. An additional $500 million will be raised through the sale of bonds.

According to the CCDC, the Javits Center Expansion and Renovation Civic Project and Land Use Improvement Project is bounded by 40th St. on the north, 33rd St. at the south, 11th Ave. at the east, and 12th Ave. at the west; as well as 36th St. on the north, 35th St. on the south, 11th Ave. on the west, and Hudson Blvd. on the east.

The project also includes the creation of a multilevel, combination truck security screening, marshalling, and loading facility; the development of a convention center hotel between 11th Ave. and Hudson Blvd. from 35th to 36th Streets; and commercial and residential development of the block bounded by W. 34th, 11th Ave., W. 33rd, and 12th Ave.


The new exhibition space, located directly north of the existing facility, will pick up on the 90-foot structural grid of the existing Javits. Power, data, and wireless connections will be available throughout. An additional 100,000 square feet of exhibition space is located on the top floor adjacent to the convertible ballroom space. New toilet and core elements will increase building services for all of the exhibition spaces.

The goal of the expansion would be to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating of silver.

A new central refrigeration and heating plant, located along the side of the convention center (near the truck loading docks), had been proposed for the center, Plenary Conference Hall, and the hotel. According to the CCDC, “the plant was analyzed using both No. 2 fuel oil and natural gas. The screening analysis showed that firing either fuel would not produce a significant adverse air quality impact on the proposed hotel, an existing residential building on W. 41st St., and Route 9A, or on the proposed developments along 11th Ave. between W. 34th and W. 42nd.”

The HVAC design is still being developed. If a central HVAC system is proposed:

• The development must be phased to construct the tallest tower initially; and/or

• The HVAC stacks must be designed to discharge at an elevation above the tallest residential floor on the 33/34 Site; and/or

• The minimum distance from any HVAC stacks must be 200 feet from any buildings of a similar or greater height containing residential uses if firing No. 2 oil, or 150 feet, if firing natural gas.

The phasing of the mechanical installation, Green said, “will be a subset of the overall construction phasing, and will be informed by several factors - most notably the extent and timing of the renovation. The project is currently in the concept design and presentation stage.”

On completion, the system most likely will be commissioned “to ensure conformance with design intent and pursuant the requirements of LEED certification.”

Publication date:01/21/2008