Turner, JE Dunn JV wins $1.2B Austin Convention Center job

Award: Austin Convention Center demolition and reconstruction
Value: $1.2 billion
Location: Austin, Texas
Client: Austin Convention Center

A joint venture of Turner Construction and JE Dunn Construction has won the $1.2 billion contract for the redevelopment and expansion of the Austin Convention Center in Texas, according to a Turner news release shared with Construction Dive. 

The project will include demolishing and rebuilding the existing convention center, located in southeast quadrant of the city’s downtown, where the current facility spans several blocks. The new structure will nearly double the 376,000 square feet of rentable space in the old building, while reopening closed streets to connect the east and west sections of the city. 

“This project will revitalize the Austin Convention Center, improving the experience for clients and guests alike, while improving the connectivity of downtown Austin,” said Graham Dewar, vice president and general manager at New York City-based Turner, in the release. 

The Austin City Council voted Oct. 19 for the Turner JE Dunn JV to assume project delivery responsibilities, which cover preconstruction and construction services via a construction manager-at-risk contract. Under CMAR contracts, contractors and owners agree on a guaranteed maximum price, with the construction manager bearing the risk of any cost overruns. 

Turner has completed over 25 convention center projects across the country, including significant expansion work at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.  

Kansas City, Missouri-based JE Dunn has an extensive portfolio of completed projects in Austin, including the Texas Facilities Commission Capital Complex Master Plan, the Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas and the 66-story Sixth and Guadalupe mixed-use tower, Austin’s tallest building.

The convention center project has been years in the making, and need for the facility has grown along with the city’s annual South by Southwest Festival. When the event began in 1987, primarily as a music event, it attracted approximately 700 people. This year’s edition, which covered everything from music to film, business and multimedia, saw more than 345,000 people attend.

Design work on the new convention center is slated to begin early next year. By 2025, the current building will close for demolition, with construction scheduled to be complete in 2028. 

That four-year timeline and closure hasn’t been universally accepted by city leaders, and SXSW organizers have said they’ll need to re-imagine the event in the interim. 

Austin also selected a joint venture of Seattle-based LMN Architects and Austin-based Page Southerland Page to provide full-scale design and architectural engineering services for the undertaking.

Total cost for the project is estimated at $1.6 billion. The city’s hotel occupancy tax and Austin Convention Center revenues will fund the project.

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