Atlanta, GA – The tornado that slammed into the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) on March 14 was a fading memory a little more than a month after it swept through downtown Atlanta.
The convention center began hosting scheduled events within two weeks after the storm and had all three buildings open for business 42 days after the twister struck. “Looking at the damage on March 14, we had no idea how long it might take before we could open,” said Dan Graveline, executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. “Here we are, just 42 short days later, fully operational. It is truly amazing.”
The International Reading Association will meet at the GWCC May 4-8 and will make use of meeting rooms in Buildings B and C, including Hall B3, which suffered the heaviest damage in the tornado.
General Manager Mark Zimmerman said, “Thousands of people have worked to get the convention center and the city back to business.” A total of 1,100 union workers and another 750 laborers working in two 12-hour shifts per day put in 270,000 man hours over the course of 42 days.
The repair work also provided an opportunity to make some upgrades to the GWCC:
- More than 30 escalators were refurbished or replaced and will operate more efficiently.
- New overhead doors were installed throughout the building.
- The new roofs on the Buildings A, B and C Concourses will enhance energy efficiency.
- New ceiling tiles and wall fabric panels installed on the Buildings A and B Concourses will improve lighting and acoustics.
The second half of April was a busy one for the GWCC. The 26th Annual Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show began an April 19-27 run in Buildings B and C. The FIRST Robotics Championships were held at the GWCC as well as Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Dome April 17-19.