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SF Celebrates Groundbreaking of Moscone Center Expansion

City officials, tourism leaders and representatives of San Francisco’s top convention customers celebrated the groundbreaking for the $500 million expansion of Moscone Center today at a ceremony outside Moscone South.


When it is completed in fall of 2018, Moscone’s North and South buildings will offer:

  • More than 500,000 square feet of contiguous space that can be used for exhibitions and/or meetings, almost double the amount of space currently offered in its largest hall
  • Three ballrooms including a new 50,000-square-foot, column-free ballroom
  • More than 80 meeting rooms
  • 108,000 square feet of light-filled, pre-function lobbies offering dramatic views of the city and the surrounding Yerba Buena Gardens
  • More than 20,000 square feet of secure, outdoor terraces that are ideal for receptions
  • Improved public amenities including wider sidewalks, larger crosswalks between buildings, multiple open air plazas and public art
  • Highly flexible design to accommodate new and current groups with increased attendance
  • An on-site Visitor Information Center staffed by San Francisco Travel Association employees

The expanded facility is designed to garner the highest LEED® certification possible. Sustainable features include:

  • Less carbon emissions per delegate than any major convention center in North America
  • Recovery of 15 million gallons of groundwater annually for reuse in the Center, as well as for irrigation at neighboring parks and street cleaning
  • Largest rooftop photovoltaic (solar panels) array in San Francisco
  • Zero-emissions electricity
  • Daylight harvesting to offset electrical lighting

“Based on the community’s feedback, the original design has been revised, and is now a stronger, better project that meets the City’s need for a larger convention facility and improves the neighborhood’s quality of life.  We have come up with a design to activate Third Street, with new opportunities for retail and outdoor dining. The sidewalk will be widened to make the experience safer and more comfortable for pedestrians; access to the gardens will be more convenient,” said City Administrator Naomi Kelly,  adding “You’ll also see a significant difference on Howard Street, with a better design flow for people on foot and exciting elements to bring new life to the street.  Today’s an exciting day for the Yerba Buena neighborhood!”

Mohammed Nuru, director, San Francisco Public Works, said, “Not only is this project good for the economy – generating construction jobs and keeping our city competitive in the convention industry – but the design incorporates smart environmental elements and neighborhood improvements that meet San Francisco’s 21st-century expectations.”

“We have one of the most successful convention centers in the United States; generating 20% of the city’s tourism dollars,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association, adding, “but Moscone Center is operating at capacity and is losing business to competing markets with better space to offer. We are excited to be moving forward with the expansion and improvement of Moscone Center so that we can continue to bring the best and most attractive events to San Francisco.”

“The Moscone Expansion and Improvement project is a partnership between the Tourism Improvement District Management Corporation, the City of San Francisco and the neighborhood,” D’Alessandro said.  “Over the last three years, our design team at Skidmore Owings and Merrill with Mark Cavagnero Associates and our construction team at Webcor Builders have worked hard to plan a design and construction schedule that allows Moscone Center to increase space, efficiency and remain operational during the project.”

 “We are delighted to take this opportunity to officially celebrate the groundbreaking while San Francisco Travel’s Customer Advisory Committee is meeting in the city. This group represents the city’s top convention customers and they have provided invaluable input on what we need to do to keep San Francisco attractive and viable for future events,” he added.

Toni Knorr, chair of the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District Management Corporation/Moscone Expansion District, said, “Through the dozens of board meetings, client meetings, community meetings and endless collaboration with the City over the past three years, this project has become a successful example of our community working together. 

We have heard requests from our convention customers for years about providing expanded contiguous space and more flexible meeting rooms.  This process would not have been successful without the valuable input received in our many client design workshops and community input, balancing the needs of the meeting planner with those of the community.”

Craig Hartman, FAIA, design partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), said about the project, “The underlying basis of Moscone’s resounding popularity is its location in the very epicenter of culture and innovation in San Francisco. Its sensitive urban context requires us to rethink the nature of traditional convention centers which have typically been conceived as sprawling, inward-oriented black boxes. With the new Moscone Center, we propose to turn the traditional convention center inside out; connecting the life of the city and the life of this active new urban place of gathering, meeting and exposition.”

The San Francisco Travel Association is a private, not-for-profit organization that markets the city as a leisure, convention and business travel destination.  With more than 1,500 partner businesses, San Francisco Travel is one of the largest membership-based tourism promotion agencies in the country.

Tourism, San Francisco's largest industry, generated record-breaking numbers in 2014.  More than 18 million people visited the destination, spending in excess of $10.67 billion. More than 87,000 jobs are supported by tourism in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Travel business offices are located at One Front St., Suite 2900, San Francisco, CA 94111. 

San Francisco Travel also operates the Visitor Information Center at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market St. at the corner of Powell and Market streets. For more information, call 415-974-6900 or visit