Flex for Success
The Pan-American Life Center’s renovated conference center and café provide one-stop-shopping and service to tenants, conference and meeting hosts, and the public in the CBD
We fill a void in the market with flexible space options and state-of-the-art technology that can accommodate changes in the ‘new’ virtual [and] digital work environment.
Brad Stillwagon, general manager of the Pan-American Life Center
The 28-story Pan-American Life Center in the Central Business District is rendered instantly recognizable by its granite façade and stairstep terraced roof. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1980, the building’s wide range of tenants vary from retail and financial institutions to energy companies and legal firms. In 2020, Stirling Properties, which manages the building, worked with Greenleaf Lawson Architects to renovate the The Conference Center on 11 and the Café on 11.
“Our goal was to fill a need in the New Orleans-area conference center space,” said Brad Stillwagon, general manager of the building. “There are no other options in the market that offer the technology and amenities that The Conference Center on 11 does. We also wanted to create a more flexible space that would allow for a variety of meeting styles and include state-of-the-art technology that would integrate with current needs and provide a base that we can build on and improve upon in the future.”
The Conference Center on 11 has 14 meeting rooms, a 90-person capacity ballroom, 145-person capacity auditorium and various flexible meeting spaces, including boardrooms, classrooms and lecture rooms. Greenleaf Lawson Architects’ modern design features a neutral, yet colorful palette and modern furnishings by AOS Interior Environments.
The Café on 11 is full-service and open to the public, as well as provides catering services for The Conference Center on 11. Helmed by Executive Chef Brandon Falls, The Café focuses on local, sustainable, and ethical food and service practices.
“The old café design was outdated — more of a cafeteria-style and didn’t have great flow,” said Stillwagon. “We wanted to create a space that was bright, open and welcoming with more of a collaborative feel than just a typical dining room. We also wanted to provide a variety of convenient and delicious food options that kept our tenants and the surrounding business community excited and coming back repeatedly.”
The auditorium at The Conference Center on 11 also saw an extensive renovation, which Stillwagon said makes it a standout in the overall design. The space is set apart by a dramatic gray color palette, theater- and café-style seating options and state-of-the art AV.
“[It] is the only one of its kind in the Downtown New Orleans area,” he said. “We transitioned the theater to a flexible layout … The back wall of the auditorium was replaced with a window wall which allows for natural light and brings attention to the unique style of the room. We also designed the space to include ample break-out areas and collaborative features, and we offer on-site event management, catering service and technology assistance.”
Nearly every economic sector has been impacted by COVID-19, but perhaps none more than the hospitality and tourism. Stillwagon said his team is rising to the challenges in marketing and revenue generation wrought not only by the pandemic, but also the digital revolution.
“Meeting and conference space needs are changing, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because of the rise in technology needs and remote work in the business community,” he said. “In-person conference sizes will likely decrease and our clients will require more remote conference options. The business landscape will need to adjust to the ‘new normal’ landscape.”
Meanwhile, amid the current economic landscape, as well as trials and tribulations typical of hospitality, Stillwagon said the team works hard to promote a positive work atmosphere and cater to the needs of the tenants by “providing a welcoming, collaborative and creative place where tenants can gather — or relax and take a break — throughout the workday” with several options offering convenience and flexibility.
“In addition to our first floor retail tenants, Tsunami, Starbucks and Smoothie King, our building offers an on-site café serving breakfast and lunch, a mini mart where people can grab a snack or beverage on the go, and many other unique amenities,” he said.
To set themselves apart in the competitive New Orleans meeting conference market, Stillwagon said his team focuses on offering clients a one-of-a-kind experience.
“We fill a void in the market with flexible space options and state-of-the-art technology that can accommodate changes in the ‘new’ virtual [and] digital work environment,” he said. “Additionally, we are centrally located and easily accessible. Out of town guests can choose their hotel and work with us without being locked into expensive hotel contracts. The Conference Center on 11 is literally a one-stop-shop where minimal points of contact make planning easy.”
At a Glance
Pan-American Life Center, 601 Poydras St.
Date of renovation
Square footage of conference center and café renovation
40,000 square feet
Number of Tenants
43 tenants in the building, with space available to grow
Person in Charge
Brad Stillwagon, general manager of building; David Moffett, general manager, The Conference Center on 11, The Café on 11.
Greenleaf Lawson Architects
AOS Interior Environment