Stronghold Engineering, Inc. and the Monterey Conference Center

stronghold engineering inc

Monterey, California is famous for many things. Located on the rugged central coastline of the golden state, it has something on offer for everyone. It is popular for its flourishing wildlife, beautiful natural parks, and historical sites abound with culture and heritage. The city attracts people from all over the country. Among its many attractions is the Monterey Conference Center. The center is the only conference facility in northern California which is a stone’s throw away from the waterfront. 

Stronghold Engineering, Inc. was contracted to carry out renovation of the conference center, a project that was completed in 707 days. The total cost incurred for the renovation was $46.3 million. The conference center is a massive facility at 70,000 square feet. The City of Monterey chose Stronghold Engineering for their longstanding expertise in the design and construction of new and existing facilities. The company has a proven track record of multi-billion-dollar projects that it has completed exceeding the expectations of its clients. In the past, it has worked on projects including, new construction, renewable energy power plants, engineering procurement, dry supply, and several design-build projects. The company has also been a top choice of the USA’s federal and state governments, and the armed forces. During its thirty-year history, the company has had a chance to work on the repair and renovation of many historical and non-historical buildings. For these reasons, Stronghold Engineering stood out as the obvious and safest choice for carrying out these renovations.

The conference center has three levels of meeting space. The center provides exhibit halls, a luxurious boardroom, ballrooms, patios, breakout spaces, banquet facilities and scenic terraces. For those looking to relax in between conferences, the Portola Hotel & Spa provides spa services and massages that are sure to spoil anyone. This large venue can easily support up to 1,700 attendees. Monterey center’s clients can utilize the facility for multiple purposes. What makes this a convenient location to host conferences are the hotels on either side of the center which have a total of 825 sleeping rooms. Monterey Bay is the largest water sanctuary in the USA, and the Monterey Conference Center is located only a short walk from it. People attending conferences can witness a diversity of wildlife, including pelicans, sea otters, sea lions, and harbor seals. 

In the past, it has also been used as a venue for hosting weddings. The center has a sleek and modern design which is a flattering look for any wedding. The center’s spaces can be used for any sort of wedding, from small intimate elopements to large weddings of more than a thousand guests. 

The City of Monterey has been working tirelessly to keep this facility in a top-notch condition. The City’s administration has been gradually making moves towards making this conference center a greener place. The center is underway towards a LEED Platinum Certification. In 2015, the City of Monterey undertook a massive renovation project. The renovation aimed to address the needs of their customers, both present and prospective. The whole project was allocated $60 million. The project started in December 2015 and the conference center was officially open for business again in January 2018. By the end of the renovation, the facilities large rooms were a lot more configurable than before, offering customers greater flexibility.

Stronghold Engineering, the primary contractor, played a pivotal role in the renovation of the 40-year-old conference center, bringing it up to speed with current trends. Through their work, Stronghold was able to transform the conference center into a well-lit gateway, whose open plan made it welcoming for visitors and guests. Stronghold made sure that the renovations of the center blended it in with its surrounding, maintaining a theme of openness and connectivity. Before the renovations, the center had a stucco and concrete façade which disconnected the conference center from its scenic surroundings. It has now been replaced by a cantilevered envelope of perforated steel and glass. Stronghold’s design team sought inspiration from the local wraparound porches that are now synonymous with Monterey’s architectural style. 

After entering the building from its renovated entrance, guests are now greeted with a bigger lobby that now sports double-height glazing. As a result, the ground floor has been transformed into a much more active and open area. The Stronghold team was quite conscious of the center’s surrounding areas and this awareness led to the renovations complimenting the adjacent Portola Plaza. The plaza has now become a beautiful extension of the Conference Center. It has also greatly facilitated pedestrian access to the building all the way from downtown to the waterfront. 

Keeping true to the feel of the golden state, the second story is now surrounded by wood and glass screens. Soon as the golden hour hits in the evenings, the entire building is now bathed in a warm glow as the light enters the plaza, bouncing off the wood and glass screens. 

Apart from cosmetic upgrades, the plaza has also undergone a host of changes internally. Stronghold’s team turned the City of Monterey’s vision into reality. The interior space was redone such that it has now become a state-of-the-art facility and its flexibility is its greatest asset. Everything was done from the ground up. This included the 20,000 square-foot exhibit hall, the 10,000 square-foot ballroom with movable partitions, the pre-function spaces, meeting rooms, administrative offices, and even the art gallery. 

Stronghold Engineering also made sure that they would approach the project with sustainability in mind. The design now enables natural light to seep deep into the building, decreasing the buildings electricity usage. This has been achieved by integrating skylights and clerestory windows into the design, which not only allow in natural light but also accentuate the wooden beams in the ceilings. The large outdoor plaza has also been transformed into a dramatic oval-shaped oculus. It now overlooks the Portola Plaza and attendees can enjoy breathtaking views of Santa Lucia. 

Once the project had been completed, the project team was awarded the Professional Project Award of Merit by the Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The Professional Projects Awards are conducted annually by the AEI. The purpose of these awards is to acknowledge companies for their excellence in design and construction.