Sails Pavilion Roof Removal Underway

A piece of history has come down from the San Diego skyline.

The first main sections of the San Diego Convention Center's iconic Sails Pavilion fabric roof are being removed, with a key interior section being cut down on Friday, August 25. Media crews were invited to witness the milestone event.

"This iconic Sails Pavilion has welcomed nearly a million guests a year, but after nearly 28 years in service, our fair-weathered Sails have finally reached the end of their usable life span," said San Diego Convention Center Corporation President & CEO Clifford "Rip" Rippetoe. "For a short time, the Sails Pavilion will be open-air. Then, we'll begin replacing the cable and steel that hold up the new fabric around Thanksgiving."

The white Sails roof atop the 90,000 square foot exhibit space make it among the most unique spaces in the meetings and convention industry. The Sails are part of what has made the San Diego Convention Center one of the most recognizable venues, worldwide.

San Diego City Council Member Chris Ward attended the media event and spoke about the iconic landmark.

"I am so happy to see the investments and the improvements being made to the Sails Pavilion and the San Diego Convention Center," said Ward. "We have a number of landmarks here in San Diego, iconic features that visitors remember us by, and the Sails Pavilion is one of them. This roof replacement adds aesthetic value and improves functional space the convention center needs."

Thanks to a collaborative effort between San Diego Convention Center staff, its Board of Directors as well as City and State officials, funding in the form of a historic $25.5 million loan was acquired for this project as well as seven other capital improvement projects to enhance the venue. The total cost of the roof replacement is $10.5 million. In addition, new fire water cannons that are part of the Sails Pavilion fire safety system will be upgraded at a cost of about $1.7 million. New LED lighting will also be installed.

Here are some other fun facts about the project:

The specialized roof is being installed by BirdAir, the contractor that constructed the original roof.

"We at BirdAir are honored to be part of the Sails Pavilion roof replacement project," said Michael S. Sparks, Vice President of Construction for BirdAir. "Since constructing the original roof in 1989, we have been proud of this iconic structure that has become a focal point of the San Diego waterfront. For the second generation of the roof we made a few design changes, but the overall look and durable PTFE (teflon coated fiberglass) fabric remain."

The Sails Pavilion roof is just one of the many infrastructure improvements and enhancements underway at the convention center. The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) Board of Directors gave the final approval to finance the $25.5 million in capital improvement projects in June 2016.

Other projects include:

  • Modernization of escalators
  • Updating of fire and life-safety systems
  • Installation of new cooling towers

The Sails Pavilion concrete floor was replaced in December 2016.

"Maintaining the excellence of our building is part of our commitment to serve our guests. With these planned improvements, we continue to give them more reasons to come back to San Diego and contribute to our strong economy," said San Diego Convention Center Board of Directors Vice Chair Gil Cabrera. "We can't thank the State of California and our partners at the Infrastructure Bank enough for making this possible."


Barbara Moreno's picture
Posted by Barbara Moreno, on August 25, 2017
Meeting Planners, News and Developments

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