Georgia World Congress Center
The Georgia World Congress Center or GWCC is the major convention center in Atlanta. It is the fourth-largest convention center in the United States at 1.4 million ft 2 (130,000 m 2) and hosts more than a million visitors each year. At the time opened in 1976 the Georgia World Congress Center was the first state owned Convention Center in the United States. The A, B, and C buildings of the GWCC (the actual Convention Center), Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Dome are all run by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority under the auspices of the State of Georgia and funding for new expansions and other major project come from the Georgia General Assembly. The GWCC is located in downtown Atlanta at 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Dome, CNN Center and the Philips Arena. Public transportation is serviced by the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center MARTA station. The GWCC was designed by Atlanta-based architects Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates (TVS) and is made up of three adjacent buildings, Buildings A, B, and C. In total these buildings have twelve exhibit halls, 105 meeting rooms, and two ballrooms. Building A has three exhibit halls and the Sidney Marcus auditorium seating 1,740. Building B, the largest, contains five exhibit halls and the 33,000 square-foot (3,065 m 2) Thomas B. Murphy Ballroom. The newest building, Building C, has four exhibit halls and the 25,700 square-foot (2,387 m 2) Georgia Ballroom. Other amenities include a FedEx Kinko's office, Starbucks coffee shops, a gift shop, internet access, telephone service, and full IT management provided by CCLD ( Convention Center Long Distance), a concierge desk, and a food court plus another restaurant. Freight rail tracks (owned by CSX Transportation) run through the middle of the complex and under the parking decks. The complex incorporates pedestrian bridges to connect exhibit halls on opposite sides of the tracks. The GWCC opened in 1976 with 350,000 square feet (33,000 m 2) of exhibit space. Additional phases opened in 1985, 1992, and 2002. During the 1996 Summer Olympics, the GWCC hosted handball, fencing, judo, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling, and the fencing and shooting portions of the modern pentathlon. The International Broadcast Center for the worldwide media was also set up inside the GWCC. On November 8, 2001, President George W. Bush made a speech at the GWCC in which he exhorted the crowd of police, firefighters, and politicians, "My fellow Americans, Let's roll!" , a phrase he would later use at the 2002 State of the Union address. The center also hosted the 2009 Soul Train Music Awards, the first held outside of the Los Angeles area. Every year, the GWCC holds the SEC Football Fanfare in one of its convention halls, usually Halls C1 and C2, joined together to create one large exhibition hall. Fanfare is a huge event in early December that occurs simultaneously along with the SEC Championship Game, held in the Georgia Dome. For the 2 day event, thousands of Southeastern Conference football fans attend to see the festivities. The GWCC will play host to WrestleMania Axxess for WrestleMania XXVII at the nearby Georgia Dome.

2008 Atlanta tornado
On 14 March 2008, a tornado struck Atlanta, including the downtown area. The Georgia World Congress Center was heavily damaged by the storm, including roof and water damage. In addition to rain pouring in from the holes in the roof, there was also water damage from the sprinkler system and broken water pipes. The extent of the damage led to the cancellation of immediate events. After the disaster, a letter was posted on the GWCC's website detailing the closure of the GWCC. However, the facility along with the nearby Georgia Dome was able to be repaired enough to host the FIRST Robotics World Championship during the dates of April 18-20. The Georgia Dome and the Congress Center were also ready in time for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) run by DECA, an association of marketing students from around the country. FBLA-PBL, a student business organization, held its opening and closing sessions for the National Leadership Conference in 2008 there. The tornado was the first to hit the downtown area since weather record keeping began in the 1880s.
  • See article: 2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak.

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