Moscone Center Expansion

Moscone Center Expansion
Moscone Center Expansion
Moscone Center Expansion

The full-scale transformation of San Francisco's premier convention venue has introduced a series of light-filled meeting spaces, linked by pedestrian bridges—creating a campus that is newly interconnected and open to the city.

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2019
  • Size Building Height: 95 feet Number of Stories: 3 Building Gross Area: 800,000
  • Awards
    2015, Space:Silver, Spark Awards 2019, Real Estate Deals of the Year Award, San Francisco Business Times 2020, Design Awards, AIA San Francisco 2020, American Architecture Awards, Chicago Athenaeum 2020, Merit Award, AIA California 2020, Leading Edge Award, AIA California 2020, Award of Excellence, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California 2020, Structural Engineering Project, ASCE SF Section, American Society Of Civil Engineers 2020, Design Awards, International Design Awards 2020, Honorable Mention, The Architect's Newspaper 2021, Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA), American Society Of Civil Engineers 2020, Award of Excellence, Structural Engineers Association of California 2021, AISC IDEAS2 - Moscone Pedestrian Bridges, Aisc - American Institute Of Steel Construction
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Platinum, BD+C, Platinum
  • Collaborators
    Soha Engineers CMG Landscape Architects WSP Tipping Mar Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects San Francisco Public Works Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design (HLB) TEECOM Matthew Millman Photography Cesar Rubio Photography Tim Griffith Photography Sherwood Design Engineers Webcor Builders
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2019
  • Size Building Height: 95 feet Number of Stories: 3 Building Gross Area: 800,000
  • Awards
    2015, Space:Silver, Spark Awards 2019, Real Estate Deals of the Year Award, San Francisco Business Times 2020, Design Awards, AIA San Francisco 2020, American Architecture Awards, Chicago Athenaeum 2020, Merit Award, AIA California 2020, Leading Edge Award, AIA California 2020, Award of Excellence, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California 2020, Structural Engineering Project, ASCE SF Section, American Society Of Civil Engineers 2020, Design Awards, International Design Awards 2020, Honorable Mention, The Architect's Newspaper 2021, Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA), American Society Of Civil Engineers 2020, Award of Excellence, Structural Engineers Association of California 2021, AISC IDEAS2 - Moscone Pedestrian Bridges, Aisc - American Institute Of Steel Construction
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Platinum, BD+C, Platinum
  • Collaborators
    Soha Engineers CMG Landscape Architects WSP Tipping Mar Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects San Francisco Public Works Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design (HLB) TEECOM Matthew Millman Photography Cesar Rubio Photography Tim Griffith Photography Sherwood Design Engineers Webcor Builders

Reimagining the city’s largest venue

The expansion of Moscone Center transforms San Francisco’s premier convention venue from a dark and disconnected complex of buildings into a series of light-filled spaces, seamlessly integrated with the public realm. Located in the downtown cultural district surrounding Yerba Buena Gardens, the Moscone Center spans almost 20 acres across two blocks on either side of Howard Street. The expansion project, designed by SOM with Mark Cavagnero Associates (MCA), is part of a 25-year master plan led by the same team. With its new pedestrian-friendly design that connects Yerba Buena’s new and existing open spaces, parks, and cultural facilities, the expansion vastly improves the Moscone Center and allows it to meet the evolving needs of a modern city.

Moscone Center Expansion
Moscone Center Expansion © Tim Griffith

Reconfiguring the campus

To remain competitive with other U.S. convention and exhibition venues, the Moscone Center needed more contiguous exhibition space—a challenging design task, given most available square footage was below grade and bounded by city streets and adjacent properties. To increase the usable area, the design team essentially turned the classic convention facility model inside-out. By reconfiguring relationships between existing spaces and building new access to existing spaces, a relatively small amount of new gross area completely reinvigorates the entire complex.

Above-grade additions and improvements include the renovation of the original Moscone North building and the construction of a new, three-story structural steel building, Moscone South, which adds 220,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom spaces. The new building’s horizontal profile meets the skyline in an elegant expression of the building’s environmental commitment. The existing below grade exhibition halls that were once disconnected from each other can now function as a single contiguous space, or can be separated to allow simultaneous use of the building by multiple smaller events.


Making connections

Throughout the renovated complex, transparent and translucent materials bring natural light to interior public spaces. The design reveals the activity within while enlivening the streetscape and the surrounding public realm.

Pedestrian-friendly space replaces 25,000 square feet of surface parking and vehicular circulation, exit ways, and ramps. The project adds more than 8,000 square feet of new public open space, including a play area for younger children. Multiple outdoor terraces provide dramatic city views and can be used for receptions and other events.

A pair of pedestrian bridges link the newly constructed and renovated Moscone facilities across Howard Street, while also enhancing connections to the surrounding public spaces. A new viaduct below Howard Street connects the exhibition hall in the existing Moscone North building with the new Moscone South building. The expansion under a working roadway was a key part of the plan to create over 500,000 square feet of contiguous underground exhibition space.

Pedestrian Bridge at Moscone Center
© Matthew Millman
Pedestrian Bridge at Moscone Center Expansion
Pedestrian Bridge at Moscone Center Expansion © Matthew Millman

Making connections

Moscone’s new pedestrian bridges

The two elevated pedestrian bridges at Moscone Center link the newly constructed and renovated facilities, providing safe crossings across Howard Street. The glass-enclosed East Bridge connects the Moscone North and South Buildings, allowing convention attendees to easily move between the two facilities. The West Bridge, located half a block down Howard, connects the Moscone Center with the surrounding public spaces. Together, the bridges exemplify San Francisco’s Vision Zero pedestrian safety initiative, as highly visible landmarks for the convention center and the surrounding district.

The East Bridge appears nearly weightless, suspended from a structural roof by a series of steel rods. A light-based art piece by artist Leo Villareal hangs overhead. A distinctive feature of the streetscape, the lights change colors 30 times a second—from red to yellow, green, orange, blue, purple, pink, and lavender. Following the shape of the structural span, the lights illuminate the bridge’s minimal design.

Pedestrian Bridge at Moscone Center Expansion
East Bridge connects the Moscone North and South Buildings. © Matthew Millmans
Pedestrian Bridge at Moscone Center Expansion
Light-based art piece by artist Leo Villareal hangs overhead at the East Bridge. © Matthew Millman

The West Bridge, on the other hand, effectively extends the public spaces surrounding Moscone Center. The open air-walkway, with its steel and metal panel finishes, evokes a work of sculpture. Connecting to the adjacent open spaces of Yerba Buena Gardens, the bridge invites pedestrians to reach the convention venue via a safe crossing above Howard Street.

Moscone Pedestrian Bridge
© Tim Griffith

Phased delivery

The design team was tasked with completing the project in phases, to allow conferences to continue and for surrounding streets to remain open throughout construction. The team created a plan of four phases; the two largest phases each involved the construction of half of the new Moscone South Building. After each phase, new construction was certified for occupancy, allowing use of the new spaces while the next set of spaces was built.

Phased Construction at Moscone South Building
Phased Construction at Moscone South Building © Mark Schwettmann | SOM
Buckling Resistant Braces (BRBs)
Buckling Resistant Braces (BRBs) © Mark Schwettmann | SOM
A final seismic system incorporated BRB cores, freeing up interior conference space while providing ductile seismic response.
A final seismic system incorporated BRB cores, freeing up interior conference space while providing ductile seismic response. © Hunter Kerhart

Adaptive reuse and resiliency

To meet ambitious sustainability goals, the design team implemented architecture and engineering solutions to conserve existing elements of the building—an approach that dramatically reduced the carbon impact of construction. In its operations, Moscone Center creates less carbon emissions per visitor than any major convention center in North America. The project has achieved LEED Platinum Certification through energy efficient systems and onsite renewable energy, generated from the largest rooftop solar installation in San Francisco. It is also designed for net-positive water use, with innovative stormwater and groundwater capture and reuse strategies that result in a savings of more than five million gallons of water each year.

Moscone Center Expansion
Moscone Center Expansion © Cesar Rubio Photography
Moscone Center Expansion
Moscone Center Expansion © Cesar Rubio Photography

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