The evacuation didn't last long, called off while some people were still lined up at the stairwells to exit, but a 30-minute break followed while windows were thrown open to air out the space.
A flash fire at a nearby construction site had created the odor, organizers said.
The conference restarted with Mary Berner, president and CEO of the Magazine Publishers Association, joking that Conde Nast President Bob Sauerberg "would do anything to avoid being on a panel."
Mr. Sauerberg is slated to join the leaders of Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corporation, Rodale and Time Inc., for the conference's closing session Wednesday. Speakers and events so far have included Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Alec Baldwin in conversation with New Yorker Editor David Remnick, and a panel on the subject of native advertising.