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Washington State Convention Center Addition Project Tops Out; One Year of Construction Remains

Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Clark Construction, Lease Crutcher Lewis, American Bridge, LMN Architects

SEATTLE – June 14, 2021 – The Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) recognized a major milestone in the construction of the Addition project, also known as the Summit building. On Friday, June 11, construction crews hoisted the final beam onto the steel structure, officially “topping out” the building.   

“This is an exciting day that is dedicated to the people who made this project a reality,” said Frank Finneran, chair of the WSCC Board of Directors. “The past year has tested us, but the construction crews are innovators and problem solvers. They have kept going and kept safe while advancing this transformative project.” 

To “top out” a construction project is an industry tradition, marking both the progress toward completion and creating a moment to highlight the dedication of the project’s workforce. To thank workers and commemorate the moment, local luminaries and sports icons contributed congratulatory messages in a short video that was shared with the Addition’s construction team during the topping out. Due to COVID‐19 protocols, the milestone was celebrated virtually rather than holding the typical on‐site gathering of construction workers and project team members. Video of the topping out was shared Monday on the WSCC Addition website. 

Since breaking ground in 2018, Addition crews have erected 21,000 tons of steel. Their construction efforts will double the existing capacity of the Washington State Convention Center, adding approximately 255,000 square feet of exhibition space, 120,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and60,000 square feet of ballroom space. 

Clark | Lewis, a joint venture between Clark Construction Group and Lease Crutcher Lewis, is the project’s general contractor. The steel erection subcontractor is American Bridge. LMN Architects is the project architect. 

“The topping out ceremony is an opportunity to salute the men and women building the project for their dedication to their craft and to this project during an extraordinary time,” said Ben Eitan, vice president with Clark | Lewis. “Fifteen months ago, we could not have imagined the circumstances brought on by the pandemic. Despite them, our team and partners have risen to the challenge and continued to move construction safely forward, demonstrating that Seattle has the best talent – and people – to deliver this project.” 

In the five years prior to the start of construction, the WSCC had to turn away as much business as it booked due to space or schedule constraints. The expanded capacity will allow the region to capture more than $2 billion in lost revenue associated with the hundreds of events it couldn’t accommodate before. The first booking for the new building occurred just three months after groundbreaking. That event, scheduled for 2024, will use both the Arch (existing convention center) and Summit buildings. Currently, there are 33 conventions confirmed for Summit through 2027. 

When operating at capacity, Summit operations are anticipated to generate an estimated $260 million per year in visitor spending and create 2,300 new permanent jobs at the facility and in hospitality‐related businesses that depend on a strong recovery from the devastating effects of the COVID‐19pandemic.   

“The Washington State Convention Center Addition presents a transformative opportunity at the intersection of an emerging culture of the delegate of the future, the evolving trends in the convention center industry and the development of Seattle’s vibrant urban core,” said Mark Reddington, partner, LMN Architects. “A s a catalyst for revitalizing and re‐connecting Seattle’s core neighborhoods, the integration of the WSCC Addition with its surroundings will be the basis for a rich and unique experience for both delegates and residents, an experience that is unique to Seattle.” 

As part of this project, WSCC will invest more than $93 million in community improvements and has committed approximately $135 million to contracting with upwards of 100 minority‐ or women‐owned businesses. The Addition will activate four city blocks with new sidewalks, lighting, retail and landscaping to transform the pedestrian experience, bringing communities together and creating a safe, active space in Seattle’s downtown core. 

“This project will truly be transformative for the city and for the region,” said Tom Norwalk, President &CEO of Visit Seattle. “Seattle has unique qualities as a meetings and convention destination. The Summit building will enable WSCC to more effectively capitalize on that and bring even more tourism revenue to the region. Its neighborhood‐driven design approach emphasizes public spaces and pedestrian connections. The WSCC Board of Directors’ commitment to diversity and inclusion on this construction project has created important opportunities for local workers and businesses. This project helps position the region for a vibrant post‐pandemic recovery.” 

The Addition is scheduled to open in mid‐2022.

About the Washington State Convention Center

Located in the heart of Seattle and walking distance to world‐class hotels, restaurants, entertainment and attractions, the Washington State Convention Center has been the Northwest’s premier meetings and events facility for over 32 years. In a typical year, WSCC welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe, offering industry‐leading service, award‐winning catering and a comprehensive range of services for event planners, exhibitors and guests. With a longstanding commitment to sustainability, public art and inclusivity, WSCC services its surrounding community and provides visitors with a truly unique Northwest experience.