Expo Hall Aims For ‘Warmer’ Look
By DIANE TURNER-HURNS
Journal & Topics Reporter
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (DES) officials plan to spruce up the Rosemont facility’s lobby to make the center even more inviting for trade show, meeting and public event visitors.
Convention center Executive Director Christopher E. Stephens said they are looking into redoing the lobby floor and aluminum ceiling, as well as redesigning the security area and concierge desk.
“We’d like to make it look warmer,” he said.
Stephens said different design ideas include going with more carpeting or a terrazzo floor. The terrazzo floor is a composite material made up of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass and other suitable material and is used in public places such as hospitals.
Currently, the 40,000-sq. foot, high-traffic lobby has a black and grey speckled linoleum-like floor.
“The ceiling hasn’t been updated in more than 20 years,” Stephens said. “Currently we’re working with designers and an architect on different ideas and plans. So far they look pretty good. However, the construction will not take place until the end of the year, probably around Thanksgiving time when we have a small window of time between shows.”
Stephens said they are looking at installing a drop ceiling, but added when it’s time to make the change, “The whole ceiling and lights must come down before we replace the whole grid. It’s quite an operation.”
The DES is busy year-round with conventions, trade shows and public events, so finding a slice of time when the lobby is not in use to do the construction can be tough for convention officials. They are aiming for the end of the year.
The DES offers 840,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, ballrooms, meeting rooms, refreshment areas, a restaurant and more.
Officials are also reviewing costs and hope to have renovation plans for the lobby ready to present to the village board this spring. The concierge desk area and security office will be redesigned to blend in more with the lobby, Stephens said.
“We are also, as we always do, planning to apply for state and federal energy efficient grants to help pay for the upgrades,” Stephens said. “We do all the grant applications ourselves.”
As for attendance, Stephens said from 2006-08 the DES averaged about 600,000 visitors a year before that number dropped for a few years due to the recession. Now, he says they average 1.2 million people annually, a level that continues to go up.
“We like to keep everyone happy,” Stephens said. “We’re looking forward to updating the lobby.”