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Development And Financing

Moscone Center Today

The Moscone Center is San Francisco's premier meeting and exhibition facility. From the very core of a vibrant and active downtown district, it anchors the City's commitment to a vital tourism industry. Today more than 2 million square feet of building area include over 700,000 square feet of exhibit space, up to 106 meeting rooms, and nearly 123,000 square feet of prefunction lobbies.

Management History

With the completion of Moscone West, today's Moscone Center is a collection of facilities covering more than 20 acres on three adjacent blocks. It anchors the 87-acre Yerba Buena Center redevelopment district in a neighborhood of hotels, theaters, restaurants, museums, galleries, housing, parks and urban recreation centers. Developed and owned by the City and County of San Francisco, it is privately managed by SMG.

Development History

On December 8, 1978 the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Diane Feinstein declared that the convention center be named after George R. Moscone as a fit and proper memorial to the memory of the late Mayor. The resolution also recognized that George Moscone had throughout the term of his office been a proponent for the construction and operation by the City and County of San Francisco of a convention center to be located within Yerba Buena Center Redevelopment Project Area and had a continued interest in completing the construction of the convention center.

The Moscone Center consists of three components that were developed in phases over a period of more than 20 years. The first was Moscone South, completed in 1981. The second included the Esplanade Ballroom and Moscone North, completed in 1991 and 1992 respectively. The third, Moscone West, opened in 2003. A timeline of significant events leading to the completion of each phase chronicles key decision points or events in the Center's development history:

Development Cost & Financing

All phases of The Moscone Center's development were financed by a combination of the proceeds from the sale of revenue bonds and accumulated hotel tax plus earnings on bond proceeds. The bonds were issued by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency from whom the City leases the facilities. Lease payments drawn from the hotel tax fund are used to pay off the bonds.

Project management for all development phases has been provided by the City and County of San Francisco, Department of Public Works.

Design And Construction

Architects of Record
General Contractor

The electoral mandate calling for a convention center in the Yerba Buena redevelopment project specified a largely underground facility able to support above-grade structures. This dictated the need for unique design solutions, beginning with a roof system for Moscone South supported by 16 post-tensioned steel and concrete arches, arranged in pairs, and spanning 275-feet across the breadth of the 261,000 square foot exhibit hall.

For both Moscone North and South, the relationship between the largely underground site and the pressures of the water table called for an unusual approach to excavation and foundation work. Nearly 1.2 million cubic yards of earth were excavated from the two 11-acre blocks, followed by pouring a 7-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete mat built to withstand constant ground water pressure.

The north and south lobbies and the Esplanade Ballroom structure represent the only above grade structural features for more than a million square feet of overall building area. Thus, a bold and unifying design theme, incorporating both structural features and large expanses of glass to maximize light distribution, became essential exterior elements.

The Moscone South lobby, paved in granite and enclosed in glass, is dramatically supported by four large tubular steel trusses weighing 65 tons each and spanning more than 120 feet. The geometry of the trusses is echoed throughout the design of the Esplanade Ballroom building that was added to Moscone South in 1991.

The Moscone North lobby features extensive use of skylights and large expanses of glass on both north and south exteriors, admitting natural light to the street-level lobby and illuminating the exhibit hall concourse more than 30 feet below.

Moscone West is a free-standing facility constructed largely above grade. The most vertical of the Moscone Center structures, it rises 110 feet from street level at the northwest corner of Fourth and Howard Streets. With a more limited footprint than those for Moscone North and South, a multi-story structure provided the solution for providing 300,000 square feet of flexible function space, with spacious lobbies of more than 27,000 square feet on each floor. Loading docks, storage and back-of-house functions are housed below grade and serviced by two nodes of oversized, high speed freight elevators.

The design concept features a dramatic glass wall stretching 350 feet down its eastern and southern exposures and wrapping the exterior in a transparent skin. This allows for light-filled lobbies on each level, while achieving energy-efficient results through the use of high performance glazing and low-emissivity glass.

Highly engineered to meet stringent seismic standards, a unique coupled-girder system is designed to minimize structural damage in the event of an earthquake up to a magnitude of 8.2, in combination with a system of 248 friction dampers that act to dissipate seismic energy.

Moscone West's design has emphasized the latest features and systems for energy and resource efficiency. From lighting fixtures and controls, thermal glazing and the newest technology for heating and cooling, to a comprehensive recycling and waste management system, Moscone West illustrates the best of sustainable building practices.

Despite the need for very heavy floor loadings in a vertical structure, column placement on the third floor was minimized to provide 210-foot clear spans for the nearly 60,000 square foot ballroom. Support columns are on 90-foot centers in the first and second floors.

More than a mile of highly-engineered movable walls are used to configure the 200,000 square feet of function space on the second and third floors. This enables an exceptional degree of flexibility in configuring space to the unique needs of each event.