February 24, 2016

New-Look Ballroom Ready in Time for Arnold Sports Festival

The Grand Ballroom in the Greater Columbus Convention Center is getting a new look and a new name – just in time for the Arnold Sports Festival.

Newly dubbed “Union Station Ballroom” – a reminder of the rail terminal that once sat where the Convention Center is today – the 25,000-square-foot ballroom has undergone a $3.9 million facelift to bring it up-to-date with current needs and tastes.

The updates, which are part of the Convention Center’s $140 million expansion and renovation project, come courtesy of LMN Architects in partnership with local architectural firm Schooley Caldwell Associates. Columbus-based Corna-Kokosing and Elford, Inc., collaborated on the construction. The result is a spectacular blend of new materials, lighting, finishes and a more open feel.

“Competition for show and venue space is getting tougher,” says Brian Tennyson, principal at Seattle-based LMN. “While the Convention Center and the Grand Ballroom were well maintained, they were of a previous era. Our big goal was to give the ballroom a refresh and update to where guests would be wowed with high-quality spaces, updated finishes and lighting.”

One of the most striking changes is noticed when looking up.  A higher ceiling, sports vertical metallic fins and a polycarbonate mesh integrated with a versatile system of colored LED lights, can change the ambiance of the room to match each event. Walls include new acoustic panels and higher-quality finishes, including light-reflecting metallic paint.

Steve Munger, project manager and project architect at Schooley Caldwell, praised the collaborative process between the architects and contractors.

“Our relationship with the contractors is running incredibly smoothly, and they’re doing a great job of executing the vision of the design and of FCCFA,” Munger says. “We’ll be turning it over prior to the Arnold on March 3.”

The first new ballroom events will take place the first week of March, when the Arnold Sports Festival comes to town and uses the ballroom for martial arts, grappling and amateur boxing.

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