New three-story glass atrium at Cobo Center debuts at the Auto Show

The new Corvette Stingray isn’t the only thing that will be making its public debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show.
 
The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority is busy at work on a $300 million renovation project at Cobo Center. The extensive plans include a three-story atrium with a skylight and an 80-foot glass wall on the structure's southern exposure overlooking the Detroit River.
 
"What was formerly a confined dark space is now flooded with bright light," says Patrick Bero, CEO of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority. Cobo Center first opened in 1960, long before the Riverwalk was built, and was originally designed with no direct link to the River itself. "There was no direct link to the region’s most vital asset. The biggest function of the atrium is that it is our connection to the river."
 
The atrium offers 16,000-square-feet of space that will accommodate 600 people for dinner, 1,000 people in theatre-style seating, or 1,200 standing. The space is intended for high-profile VIP events and other special occasions. The glamor of this new event space is enhanced by 30,000 square feet of porcelain tile from Italy, 315 tons of marble from Portugal, and 19,000 square feet of glass from Michigan-based Guardian Industries. "The biggest thing is the striking view the atrium gives us of the Detroit River," says Bero. "It also gives us another point of entry into the facility." The atrium can be accessed from the Riverwalk by crossing Atwater St.
 
The atrium will temporarily open for the Auto Show, which opens to the public on Jan. 19. It will then close again in order to complete construction.
 
In addition to the atrium, the former Cobo Arena is being renovated into a grand ballroom and several meeting rooms. The grand ballroom will feature 40,000 square feet of space with 40-foot ceilings, dinner seating for up to 2,500, two industrial lift elevators in the floor (for auto "reveals"), and an outdoor plaza extending around the perimeter. Upgraded garages on Congress St. and Washington with additional parking spaces, a new all-natural concessions venue on the main concourse, an expanded kitchen with private tasting room, and a new food court round out the extensive list of renovations.
 
The full renovation is expected to be completed in June. 
 
Source: Patrick Bero, CEO of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Nicole Rupersburg is a former Detroiter now in Las Vegas who regularly writes about food, drink, and urban innovators. You can follow her on Instagram @eatsdrinksandleaves and Twitter @ruperstarski.