Wilmington Convention Center, Wilmington, NC

ACEC/NC Engineering Excellence Award Winner

The Wilmington Convention Center is unlike any other meeting and business facility in North Carolina. The center and 581-space attached parking deck are located on a 9-acre tract on the banks of the northeast Cape Fear River in the northern part of historic downtown Wilmington. It features a number of innovative ‘green’ design techniques intended to protect the area’s fragile maritime ecosystem. The design team’s dedication to the existing environment and to sustainable design principals has produced a modern facility that greatly exceeds local, state and federal requirements while emphasizing the natural beauty of the Cape Fear Region.

While some may have seen the riverfront property as a challenge due to its former industrial use and subsequent classification as a Brownfield site, City leaders only saw opportunities. Despite the challenges of building on a former shipping yard that was situated well below the floodplain, the natural amenities of the Cape Fear River and proximity to historic downtown made the site the perfect location for a civic facility unique to Wilmington.In addition to the Convention Center site, WK Dickson & Co., Inc. was tasked with designing a 900-foot extension of the Riverwalk to connect to other areas north and south of the facility. The construction of the timber walkway, handrails, light fixtures, stools and adjacent sidewalk and landscaping was completed in time for the grand opening and was constructed to strict government standards so as not to disturb the natural ecosystem along the Cape Fear River.

WK Dickson was originally hired by the City of Wilmington to assist in site selection early in the project. Later, when design was to begin, WK Dickson served as the lead engineering subconsultant to the architects, LS3P ASSOCIATES LTD., for the task of developing the overall site and infrastructure plan of the project. The team had to develop this large tract in a very tight industrial space along the banks of the Cape Fear River with the lowest possible impact to the existing natural habitat.
Photos: © Mark Herboth Photography