The graceful, gently curved roof that juts out from the front of the new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center serves as a canopy to an all-glass ballroom prefunction area that overlooks Boston’s cityscape and waterfront. At a total of 1.7-million square feet, and with 516,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, the BCEC is now the ninth largest in its category of convention centers in the country, according to Milton Herbert, executive director of the Convention Marketing Center, the body charged with marketing the new center.
"It’s official. Boston has arrived in the big leagues. And, we’re here to win," said James E. Rooney, executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, during the official opening ceremonies on June 10. "The BCEC is as long as the Empire State Building is high," added Rooney, who was joined by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Boston Mayor Tom Menino for the celebration.
Even Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell recognized the new center’s distinctions, calling it a building with "brains and beauty," and saying "as architecture, this may well be the best of its kind in the country." And "this is one convention center where you’re not going to wander around getting lost."
The facility, located in South Boston, eight minutes from Logan International Airport and a 12-minute walk from the city’s financial district, offers the ultimate in flexibility. Ir has seven entrances and drop-off points, allowing multiple events to have separate entrances; or "segmented" registration areas or drop-offs for the same event. The 40,020-square-foot ballroom is New England’s largest. A contiguous space exhibit hall can be divided into five parts, with ceiling heights of up to 100 feet and a minimum of poles and 52 covered loading bays on the ex-hall level. In total, there are 82 meeting rooms on three levels.
There are 48 definite events booked into the new facility, the first of which will be MacWorld in mid-July (having moved from New York), followed right behind by the media party for the Democratic National Convention at the end of July.
Ground was broken on the 790-room Westin Hotel, adjacent to the BCEC, at the end of May; it is scheduled to open in June 2006.
The Hynes Convention Center, also operated by the MCCA, "continues to be open for business," said Rooney. "We’re booking it and marketing it. Nothing has changed. If we make a change, it will be to better position Boston."