Structure Type: built works - social and civic buildings - convention centers

Designers: Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall (DMJM) (firm); Hunt, Huber and Nichols, Incorporated (firm); Mitchell / Giurgola Architects (firm); Populous (firm); Steinberg Group, Architects (firm); Phillip James Daniel (architect); Romaldo Giurgola (architect); Arber J. Huber (building contractor); Robert C. Hunt (building contractor); Paul B. Hunt (building contractor); S. Kenneth Johnson (architect); Arthur Edwin Mann (architect); Irvan F. Mendenhall (civil engineer/structural engineer); Ehrman Burkman Mitchell Jr. (architect); Harold S. Nichols (building contractor); Goodwin B. Steinberg (architect)

Dates: constructed 1989

total floor area: 1,100,000 sq. ft.

150 West San Carlos Street
Downtown, San Jose, CA 95113

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For many years, San Francisco overshadowed the City of San Jose as the preeminent city of the Bay Area. Due to the development of the electronic industry in Silicon Valley during the 1950s and 1960s, however, and its attendant growth in population and wealth, San Jose began to reconsider its public identity. It began a significant push to create a revitalized downtown area, which had languished since World War II. Part of the strategy was to create public amenities in the city, including riverfront parks, fountains, museums and this $99 million convention center to draw visitors and residents downtown. The city benefited from strong leadership from Mayors Norman Mineta (b. 11/12/1931, who served from 1971-1975), Janet Gray Hayes (1926-2014, who served two terms 1975-1983) and later Tom McEnery, who successfully created new public investments that eventually attracted private investors.

Building History

The City of San Jose, CA, named the convention center for former Mayor Tom McEnery (born 09/23/1945); McEnery served as Mayor from 01/09/1983–01/09/1991, a period of rapid growth in Silicon Valley and San Jose. McEnery advocated for the revival of San Jose's Downtown area, spending millions to add amenties to draw people back.

The Philadelphia architectural firm of Mitchell/Giurgola served as the lead designer for the project, working with consulting architects Daniel Mann Johnson and Mendenhall (DMJM) of Los Angeles, CA, and the Steinberg Group of San Jose, CA. The journal Progressive Architecture described the plan in 1989: "The design positions two floors of a 1200-car parking garafe one-half level above and one-half below grade, providing direct access from there to a public arcade and nearby buildings. Above, three halls totaling 140,000 sq ft are separated from meeting rooms by a circulation spine. The halls are completely column-free; structural piers, set 30-feet on center, that support the halls' bow trusses are located in adjacent service spines. Ramps from 11 loading docks provide direct truck access to the convention floor. The circulation spind will be extended to link hotels, planned for the site's nothern corners, to the facility." (See Jessica Elin and Daralice D. Boles, "More than a Box with Docks," Progressive Architecture, vol. 70, no. 2, 02/1989, p. 79.) The large construction firm of Hunt, Huber and Nichols, Incorporated, constructed the McEnery Convention Center.

Building Notes

The 2004 San Jose Convention Center website described the convention center: "Framed by a 125-foot abstract tile mural, the San Jose McEnery Convention Center encompasses over 425,000 square feet of function space. Designed for convenience and versatility, it offers 143,000 square feet of column-free prime exhibit space divisible by three, an elegant 22,000 square foot ballroom, up to 30 meeting rooms capable of seating up to 2,400 theater-style, and can accommodate banquets to 5,000. In addition, the Convention Center has 30-foot-high finished ceilings, 12 loading bays with drive-on access to the exhibit hall floors, recessed utility boxes with electricity, water and drainage capabilities, complete audio-visual, sound and lighting services, cellular, standard and ISDN telephony services and fiber optic and copper cabling throughout the facility with DS-3 high-speed Internet access." (See San Jose Convention and Cultural Facilities, "San Jose McEnery Convention Center," accessed 02/06/2004, no longer available 03/28/2018.)


In 2013, the architecural firm, Populous, designed an addition the McEnery Center. On its web site, the firm described its renovation efforts: "The project renovated the existing center and the expansion has added more than 130,000 square feet, making San Jose McEnery Convention Center the 5th largest convention center in California. The project’s design takes advantage of California’s climate, providing ample outdoor space that allows conference attendees and visitors to feel connected to the city. In addition, the renovated entry plaza and new terraced plazas along the building’s north and east façades create opportunities for unique meeting spaces that blur the line between inside and out, providing much needed connectivity to Downtown San Jose and the convention center/theater district. The architectural design of the expansion communicates a forward thinking attitude, a primary goal of the city and Team San Jose. A clean, north façade maximizes site usage, while the east and west facades fold back to embrace outdoor meeting spaces and landscaped plazas. Floor to ceiling windows on the north and east facades maximize natural daylight to the prefunction spaces and new ballroom, while providing sweeping panoramic views of San Jose’s downtown. Locally sourced materials, including the use of reclaimed Redwood ceilings sourced in Northern California, communicate to visitors San Jose’s commitment to sustainable design principles and a distinct sense of place. In addition, public artwork, like the Idea Tree featured in the main entrance plaza, further provide context and a slice of San Jose’s culture and innovation." (See, "Innovation By Design San Jose McEnery Convention Center Expansion," published 2014, accessed 03/28/2018.) Todd Voth served as the Populous Partner-in-Charge of the expansion, leading a team of ten to accomplish the renovation.

This renovation won the following awards: Structures Award in the Best Public / Civic Project category from the Silicon Valley Business Journaland a Special Citation Award from the American Institute of Architects, Santa Clara Valley Chapter.

PCAD id: 1628