Tearing Down the Convention Centers

In the latest issue of Next American City, writer Josh Stephens opines about the limited value of convention centers. The piece has already gotten some nice feedback — and may be starting a larger dialogue about these enormous buildings.

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I sit a stone’s throw from the Philadelphia Convention Center and the convention center’s expansion. On my desk is a photograph taken by a local photographer and artist, Jacob Hellman, that shows the demolition and site preparation that preceded the expansion. It’s violent and a good reminder of what happens when good cities make bad choices.

Do we need convention centers? That’s what Josh Stephens asks in his piece, “Unconventional Thinking.” I’d been looking for someone to write about this topic for as long as I’ve been an editor at this magazine and I was thrilled when Stephens had the urge to write about the subject as well.

Turns out Stephens isn’t alone. Urban Omnibus has just published an interview with Bob Yaro of New York’s Redevelopment Authority. Yaro wants to rip down the enormous Javits Center.

Are there other published diatribes attacking convention centers? Other defenses of convention centers?

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Diana Lind is the former executive director and editor in chief of Next City.

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