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George R. Brown Convention Center

George R. Brown Convention Center

The George R. Brown Convention Center, opened on September 26, 1987,[2] is located on the east side of Downtown Houston, Texas, United States.

George R. Brown Convention Center
Address1001 Avenida de las Americas
LocationHouston, Texas
Coordinates29°45′8″N 95°21′28″W
OwnerCity of Houston
OperatorHouston First Corporation
OpenedSeptember 26, 1987
RenovatedJuly 28, 2001 (completed December 3, 2003) and November 2014 (estimated completion Fall 2016)
Enclosed space
  Total space1,900,000 sq ft (180,000 m2)
Parking4000 spaces[1]
Public transit accessConvention District station

The center was named for internationally recognized entrepreneur, engineer, civic leader, philanthropist and Houstonian George Rufus Brown (1898-1983). George and his brother, Herman, turned Brown & Root into the world's largest construction and engineering company. Later, he and investors founded, Texas Eastern Transmission Company, which donated six of the 11 blocks required to build the GRB.[3] The center is owned by the City of Houston and managed by the Houston First Corporation. The facility was completed with a price tag of $104.9 million, requiring 30 months and more than 1,200 workers. The 100-foot (30 m) high red-white-and-blue building replaced the obsolete Albert Thomas Convention Center, which was later redeveloped into the Bayou Place entertainment complex in the downtown Houston Theater District. It is the first convention center in the world to have a permanent Bitcoin ATM.

The convention center is served by METRORail light rail service at Convention District station.


The center sits where the Pillot House, a house owned by the family of one of the founders of the Henke & Pillot supermarket chain, used to be. The Pillot House was moved to Sam Houston Park in 1965.[4] Designed by John S. Chase, the first licensed African American architect in Texas.

The first convention held in the George R. Brown Convention Center began on October 11, 1987, for the American Society of Travel Agents. A renovation project began on July 28, 2001 to expand the convention center and build an adjacent 1,200-room convention headquarters hotel at a cost of $165 million and requiring 27 months of construction. The adjacent hotel is the Hilton Americas-Houston, which is connected to the convention center via two skywalks. The hotel and convention center are not connected to the Houston downtown tunnel system. The project expanded the center from 1,150,000 square feet (107,000 m2) to 1,800,000 square feet (107,000 to 167,000 m²). Three exhibit halls were added to increase exhibition space from 451,500 square feet (41,950 m2) to 853,500 square feet (42,000 to 79,000 m²) and sixty-two meeting rooms were added for a total of 105. Completion of the project concluded in November 2003, a few months before Super Bowl XXXVIII. There is also a 3,600-seat General Assembly Theater which can be used for concerts, Broadway shows, conferences, meetings and other events, while Exhibit Hall B3 can be converted into a 6,500-seat indoor arena for concerts and sports using telescopic seating.

At the same time, METRORail was completed on schedule (connecting downtown to the Houston Museum District, Texas Medical Center, and Reliant Park), and what is deemed a revived downtown Houston has opened doors to future conventions (in 2004 and 2008, the Texas Democratic Convention was held at the GRB). The International Quilt Festival and International Quilt Market annually draws about 50,000 per year. In 2008, the 12-acre (49,000 m2) Discovery Green park was completed across the street and the three-block Houston Pavilions (a retail and entertainment complex, anchored by House of Blues) opened four blocks away. A new 700-car parking garage was built under Discovery Green to replace two surface lots removed to make way for the park. The convention center is flanked by Toyota Center (home of the Houston Rockets) and Minute Maid Park (home of the Houston Astros). With the new improvements, the George R. Brown Convention Center is one of the 10 largest in the nation.[5]

In November 2014 the ground was broken yet again, this time in preparation for Super Bowl LI. The latest expansion to the GRB includes converting six lanes and the length of five city blocks into ADLA Plaza, a 97,000-square-foot, pedestrian-friendly, outdoor space. The new Grand Lobby will be 10 stories high and showcase Ed Wilson’s 60 foot sculpture, "Soaring in the Clouds", suspended from the ceiling in the very center of the GRB. From there, patrons will have improved connectivity to 550,000 square feet of prime exhibition space via a 95,000 square foot Grand Concourse. Construction is set to be completed in the Fall of 2016.[6]

Opened in Fall 2016 and located at the North end of the GRB is the Marriott Marquis, which connects to the GRB via skybridge. This unique property boasts 1,000 guest rooms and a Texas-shaped lazy river. An additional 2,461 rooms are being added to Houston’s downtown hotel inventory in eight unique properties. By late 2016, there will be more than 7,700 rooms in 24 hotels downtown.

After Hurricane Katrina, approximately 7,000 people went to the convention center, due to the Astrodome being at its full capacity.

In 2009, a televised audition of the show America's Got Talent was filmed at the convention center.[7]

From May 4-15, 1998, Wheel of Fortune aired two weeks of shows that were taped in the center in April 1998, including College Week from May 11th through the 15th.

Many graduations from local high schools and colleges are held at the convention center.

Houston's largest pop-culture event Comicpalooza draws a massive crowd every year and continues to increase as the convention becomes more popular.

Race history

The original track layout from 1998-2001.

From 1998 to 2001, CART held a race on Houston's downtown streets, adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center. This event was sponsored by the oil company Texaco, and named the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston. However, construction in downtown Houston resulted in the race not being renewed for the 2002 CART season.

A view of the George R. Brown Convention Center from Discovery Green (prior to 2016 renovation)


  1. "GRB Brochure". Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  2. "George R. Brown Convention Center FAQs". George R. Brown Convention Center - Houston. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  3. "George R. Brown Convention Center FAQs". George R. Brown Convention Center - Houston. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  4. Gonzales, J.R. "Then & Now #25: The Pillot house." Houston Chronicle. October 4, 2010. Retrieved on January 13, 2011.
  5. City of Houston eGovernment Center
  6. "George R. Brown Convention Center FAQs". George R. Brown Convention Center - Houston. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  7. Serrano, Shea (2009-05-07). "America's Got Talent in Houston". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
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