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Norfolk Breaks Ground on THE MAIN Convention Center and Hotel Project

Friday, May 30, 2014
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Gold Key PHR Hotels and Resorts, city officials and a design team lead by COOPER CARRY, broke ground last week on THE MAIN, a 380,000-square-foot conference center and hotel, in the heart of Norfolk, Virginia. The ceremonial start of construction marked a milestone for the port city, which has been working for more than a decade on the new conference center and hotel project.

THE MAIN, designed to showcase views of the city and the harbor, will incorporate a conference center, civic atrium, Hilton hotel and three restaurants into one 20-story iconic building that will anchor the corner of Main Street and Granby Streets in the center of Norfolk’s downtown. Internationally recognized design firm COOPER CARRY serves as architect for THE MAIN, under the direction of Rob Uhrin, AIA, principal-in-charge. Uhrin is based in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.

“This development is vitally important to the city of Norfolk, and we are honored to work in concert with the city and Gold Key PHR Hotels & Resorts on THE MAIN,” Uhrin said. “THE MAIN will create a high-end conference facility that will expand Norfolk’s ability to attract to new visitors more specialized groups.”

THE MAIN is a $126 million public-private partnership project that has generated much interest and excitement in Norfolk and Hampton Roads. Rather than a traditional groundbreaking, officials hosted a celebration at the Nauticus maritime museum in downtown Norfolk.

The new facility will include secure rooms designed to meet federal requirements, technology enhanced, tiered classrooms, and other cutting-edge conferencing spaces. THE MAIN will comprise three restaurants, an atrium space, the 274-room The Hilton at Norfolk at THE MAIN and a 50,000-square-foot conference center known as The Exchange at THE MAIN.
“The project has been designed as much more than a hotel and conference center,” said Andrea Schaub, COOPER CARRY’s project manager for the development. “It is a composition of programmatic spaces and experiences including several food and beverage options, the hotel, a conference center, and many specialized event spaces that have been designed and organized around and within the glass atrium space along Main Street.”

The design incorporates the historic façade of the Decker Building, home to the law office of Peter G. Decker Jr., which previously occupied the site. When the building was demolished, the façade was dismantled and preserved. It will be reconstructed and incorporated into the architecture of THE MAIN. The façade will extend the length of the smaller row buildings that occupy the block and visually stitch them into the larger development. It will also be an integral part of two of the development’s restaurants.

The 80-foot tall atrium space acts as an extension of Main Street, inviting the public to move through the building. The atrium exposes the common areas of the hotel, conference facilities and restaurants to the surrounding community.

The ground floor will include a coffee shop, high energy seafood restaurant, and a connection to the Selden Arcade, an adjacent community arts center. The hotel lobby will be located on the second floor and will house the development’s second restaurant which will be Italian fine dining. Located 100 feet above ground level, a lounge-style bar and roof terrace will offer commanding views of the city and harbor.

COOPER CARRY’s national hospitality design practice has a deep pipeline of active projects including the Cuyahoga County Convention Center Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio, and the recently completed Marriott Marquis convention center hotel in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with tvsdesign. The development is expected to open in spring 2017.


COOPER CARRY provides architecture, planning, landscape architecture, interior design, environmental graphic design and sustainability consulting services. Founded in 1960, the firm specializes in the design of corporate, education, government, hospitality, mixed-use, office, residential, retail, science + technology, and transit projects. The firm has designed projects in 45 states and globally in the Caribbean, Middle East, Asia, Africa and Central America. Engaging a fundamental design philosophy centered on the concept that environments should connect people to people and people to place, the firm promotes the philosophy of “connective architecture.” Designers understand the local market and the specific cultural and physical contexts in which the building will serve those who interact with it while conceiving memorable spaces, inside and out. Listening to the client and gaining a deep understanding of the market and site prior to commencing design,COOPER CARRY balances passionate creativity with client service. They expand vision and add value to every project and its community. For more information visit www.coopercarry.com.
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