Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, shortened to Javits Center in popular usage, is a large convention center located on Eleventh Avenue, between 34th and 40th streets, in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, New York City. It was designed by architect James Ingo Freed of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. The controversial and revolutionary space frame structure was begun in 1980, finished in 1986, and named for United States Senator Jacob K. Javits, who died that year. The Center is operated and maintained by the New York City Convention Center Operating Corporation. The convention center has a total area space of 1,800,000 square feet (170,000 m2) and has 840,000 square feet (78,000 m2) of total exhibit space.
When the Center opened, it replaced the New York Coliseum as the city's major convention facility, making way for the demolition of the Coliseum and future construction of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Today, it hosts events such as the New York International Auto Show and the New York Comic Con. It is billed as one of the busiest convention centers in the United States, but it is only the twelfth-largest.
Planning and constructing a convention center on Manhattan's west side has had a long and controversial history; proposals for a convention center to replace the New York Coliseum date to 1962, only six years after the Coliseum was completed. A new convention center over the river between 38th and 42nd Streets was included in the City's 1962 plan for the West Side waterfront. Several other sites were subsequently studied, including the New York Central rail yard between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues (now known as the Eastern Rail Yard site at the Hudson Yards) and the west 50s between Eighth and Ninth avenues. Eventually the Lindsay administration included a new convention center between 10th and 11th avenues in the west 40s along with an extensive redevelopment of the West Side in their 1969–70 Plan for New York City. Opposition to the massive residential displacement that this development project would have caused, and the failure of the City to complete any replacement housing, led the State Legislature to kill the convention center proposal in 1970. The City then moved the convention center site to the Hudson River, in place of Piers 84 and 86, despite the high cost of foundations and the lack of space for future expansion. That 44th Street convention center, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, was approved by the Board of Estimate in 1973 despite renewed opposition from the local community. In exchange, the community received a special zoning district that offered some protection from development.
However the 44th Street convention center was never built because of the City's near bankruptcy in 1975, which led instead to a search by the City and State for a less expensive site with some opportunity for expansion. Three sites were proposed — the Penn Central rail yard between 11th and 12th Avenues north of 34th Street; Battery Park City; and in the west 40s near Times Square, somewhere between 6th and 7th Avenues or 7th and 8th Avenues. The Battery Park City site was rejected because it was considered to be too far from midtown hotels. The Times Square plan, by the Regional Plan Association, was not seriously considered by the City.
The rail yard site was originally proposed by the local community because of their concern about the major office and residential development project that would accompany the convention center. As an alternative to forestall the negative impacts of both, Daniel Gutman, an environmental planner working with the Clinton Planning Council, proposed that the convention center and all major development be located south of 42nd Street. Their proposed convention center site — between Eleventh and Twelfth avenues from 34th to 39th streets — was later promoted by Donald Trump, who had obtained an option on the rail yard from the bankrupt Penn Central in 1975. The City and State eventually chose the rail yard site, and the proposal for major office and residential development south of 42nd Street was realized 30 years later in the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project.
By 1979, the I. M. Pei and Partners-designed Center started construction on the West Side. The center was completed in 1986.410,000-square-foot (38,000 m2) Upper Exhibition Hall
250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) Lower Exhibition Hall
100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) Special Events Hall (seating capacity 3,800), 102 meeting rooms
63,000-square-foot (5,900 m2) cafeteria/restaurant/lounge
75,000-square-foot (7,000 m2) concourse (1,000 by 90 by 75 feet (305 m × 27 m × 23 m))
65,000-square-foot (6,000 m2) Crystal Palace (270 by 270 by 180 feet (82 m × 82 m × 55 m))
60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) Galleria (360 by 90 by 90 feet (110 m × 27 m × 27 m))
23,400-square-foot (2,170 m2) River Pavilion (270 by 90 by 135 feet (82 m × 27 m × 41 m))
50 loading docks on two levels
1.1-acre (0.45 ha) public plaza with water walls and pedestrian link under 11th Avenue
60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) of surface parking for 140 cars
In 1995 the Independent Review Board charged that jobs at the Center had come under Mafia control. A New York Times article stated:
From the day the center opened in 1986 … Robert Rabbitt Sr. and his son Michael gave the work mainly to people with mob connections, to relatives and friends of organized-crime figures and to relatives and friends of union officers, the panel said.
The jobs at the center were reserved for members of Local 807 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who were paid up to $350 a day for working on a Sunday. Other local members who work outside the center are usually paid less than $100 a day, the panel said.
The panel, the Independent Review Board, which investigates corruption in the union, reported that the Rabbitts also tried to engineer a deal that would let Robert Rabbitt control the jobs after serving a prison sentence, and would give his son $236,000 as severance pay from companies that do business at the center.
On October 16, 2006, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the symbolic start of a $1.7 billion expansion project. The project, which would have expanded the center's size by 45 percent, was scheduled for completion by 2010. Architect Richard Rogers led the design team, and Leslie E. Robertson Associates were the structural engineers. However, the physical constraints on the project site imposed by the Bloomberg administration complicated the design and caused the cost to soar to $5 billion. To address the site constraint, an alternative plan produced in 2007 by Meta Brunzema, an architect, and Daniel Gutman, an environmental planner, for the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association would have expanded the Javits Center south over the Western Rail Yard, the site of the defeated West Side Stadium. Other features of the HKNA plan included an rooftop park, office and residential towers at the corners of the new exhibition hall, and conversion of Pier 76 to public use. In the end, the Mayor ignored the HKNA plan, cancelled the Javits expansion, and proposed to rezone the Western Rail Yard site for commercial and residential development as part of the Hudson Yards.
In April 2008, Governor David Paterson decided to renovate the existing Javits building with a severely revised budget of $465 million. The renovation, started in 2010, was led by design team FXFOWLE Epstein, whose redesign of the Javits Center's interior focused on upgrading organization and efficiency, as well as occupant comfort. The more transparent curtain wall, less opaque skylight systems, and light gray paint on the space frame have dramatically transformed the voluminous public spaces. New mechanical systems have improved the indoor air quality, reduced ambient noise, and significantly saved on energy consumption. The diamond-patterned Tuscan red terrazzo of the original floor has been replaced with soft tones of gray terrazzo. A new high-performance curtain wall has simplified and lightened the aesthetics of the original façade by changing the façade's module from 5 by 5 feet (1.5 m × 1.5 m) to 5 by 10 feet (1.5 m × 3.0 m). This allowed for the introduction of more transparent glass with minimal structurally glazed mullions. Solid stainless steel panels replaced the opaque portions of glass to better express the building's functionality. The roof of the new expansion was also made "green" by the presence of a garden in the new wing's roof. The renovation was completed in November 2013. The expansion was meant to retain old tenants coming back annually, such as the New York Boat Show.
In January 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to construct a new convention center on the site of Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and redevelop the Javits Center site with a mix of commercial space and apartments, similar to Battery Park City. However, Cuomo's plan was quickly scuttled due to disagreements over space in the Aqueduct Racetrack area. More Javits Center renovations are being eyed, with $15 million already going toward a new telephone system and improved Wi-Fi network in the building, as well as a truck idling area to the west and south being proposed for further expansion.
The newly expanded Javits Center is served by the New York City Subway 7 <7> trains at the 34th Street station, which was built as part of the 7 Subway Extension in anticipation for the adjoining Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, since September 13, 2015. The expanded Javits Center, along with the completed High Line, the new Hudson Park and Boulevard, and the subway extension, are facilitating the development of Hudson Yards.
In January 2014 it was revealed that the new roof was still leaking after the expansion.
In January 2016, Governor Cuomo announced that the Javits Center would be expanded again (to 3,000,000 feet (910,000 m)), at a cost of US$1.5 billion. Javits North, a "semi-permanent structure" located at the 40th Street end of the Javits Center, would be demolished and replaced by a new glass building with "meeting rooms, new exhibition halls and outdoor space." The further expansion of the Javits Center was proposed in order to help New York State's economy. The consortium chosen is made up of project manager Lend Lease Group and Turner Construction Company, a subsidiary of Hochtief which is controlled by Spanish company ACS Group.