San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, CA

The San Diego Convention Center first opened its doors in late 1989 as an 800,000 sf facility. Syska Hennessy Group provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection services as part of the original design team.

As originally designed, the building included the 90,000 sf outdoor Sails Pavilion with a fabric tensile roof as its architectural centerpiece. The Sails Pavilion was designed with a unique fire protection water cannon solution to work within the space’s column-free exhibit floor and light-weight roof structure.

Since the facility is located next to the San Diego Bay with a high water table, a special ground water de-watering system was designed to allow two levels of subterranean parking to be constructed. The design of the convention center’s Phase I included a central plant with gas absorption chillers, allowing the facility to minimize its electrical utility costs during the utility company’s peak periods.

After 10 years of success and a desire to grow with their clients, the San Diego Convention Center more than doubled its size to 1.7 million sf in 2001. In Phase II, the central plant was also expanded, this time with electric chillers, allowing the facility to utilize both natural gas and electric driven equipment to optimize utility costs. Syska was honored to provide engineering services for the expansion, which added more exhibit halls, pre-function spaces, meeting rooms, a new kitchen, ballroom and additional loading docks.


800,000 sf