Houston First Corporation is leading the effort to promote Houston as one of the great cities of the world. Our employees operate the city's finest convention, arts and entertainment venues.
A local government corporation formed in 2011, Houston First manages more than 10 city-owned buildings, properties and underground and surface parking. These facilities include the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel.
Our sister facilities under the Houston First umbrella include Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, Wortham Theater Center, Talento Bilingue de Houston, Miller Outdoor Theatre, Houston First Outdoors and Theater District Parking.
Houston First is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance, licensing and operation of these properties as the sites of conventions, trade shows and theatrical performances that enrich the lives of Houstonians.
In 2014, Houston First and the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau completed a strategic alignment to create a single, clear voice that speaks for the Houston product in all sales and marketing efforts.
The George R. Brown Convention Center opened on the east side of downtown Houston on September 26, 1987. The building was named for internationally recognized entrepreneur, engineer, civic leader, philanthropist George Rufus Brown (1898-1983), who donated six of the 11 blocks necessary to build the GRB. The first convention held in the George R. Brown was the American Society of Travel Agents in October 1987.
On July 28, 2001, ground was broken on a joint effort to expand the convention center and build an adjacent 1,200-room convention headquarters hotel that came to be known as the Hilton Americas-Houston. At a cost of $165 million and requiring 27 months of construction, the GRB grew from 1.15 million square feet to 1.8 million square feet. Three exhibit halls and more meeting rooms were added in preparation for Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. The expansion was completed on December 3, 2003.
Ground was broken yet again to fulfill goals outlined in the GRB 2025 Master Plan. The latest improvements began in June 2014 with the rerouting of the north freight ramp to allow room for the Avenida North Garage and Transit Center. Ongoing development includes the creation of Avenida Plaza, a pedestrian-friendly outdoor space; The Wharf, an intimate special event area; and the interactive art piece "Wings Over Water" in the new Fountain of the Americas, created by Joe O'Connell & Creative Machines.
An additional show-stopping piece of public art will be Ed Wilson’s "Soaring in the Clouds" displayed overhead in the new grand lobby’s glass façade. Within the GRB is a new grand concourse that provides improved connectivity to the GRB’s prime exhibit space and four new restaurants, all on street level. Expansive flexspace with six balconies and sweeping views of downtown Houston play backdrop on Mezzanine Level 2.
Construction on the GRB and the surrounding area was completed in December of 2016. Avenida Houston is now downtown's premier destination to sip, stroll and savor all Houston has to offer.