The Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, designed by Kentucky-based architecture firm EOP and HOK’s Chicago practice in collaboration with convention center specialist Donald Grinberg, celebrated its grand re-opening Aug. 6, following a two-year, $207 million redevelopment.
Attending the event were Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher; Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary William Landrum, III; Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Don Parkinson; Louisville Tourism President and CEO Karen Williams; Stacey Church, KICC general manager; and KyVenues CEO David Beck, who moderated the program.
During the two-year project, the western half of the building was redone to pave the way for a glass facade to represent the building’s new extroverted personality.
Other major updates include the addition of new main entrances on Fourth Street and a canopy with a color lighting display. Dynamic vertical oak wood paneling divides pre-function gathering spaces from the ballroom and serves as a nod to local distilleries and Kentucky’s famous bourbon trade. Additionally, Oak & Brew, a new hybrid morning and evening restaurant, has opened within the center, bringing local fare and famous Kentucky bourbon to visitors and show attendees.
“Louisville has a unique personality, and we wanted the design to focus on the visual and functional connection with the city,” EOP Design Partner Rick Ekhoff said. “Its architecture has been inspired by Louisville and provides an identity that visitors will associate with the city.”
“Convention centers tend to be introverted building typologies, buildings that are inwardly focused and turning away from the city. For KICC, we chose to create an urban extrovert. This is a building that celebrates its place in Louisville, a convention center that uses its activity and presence to contribute to the vitality of downtown,” said Peter Ruggiero, design principal with HOK.
The center features a total of 200,125 square feet of exhibit space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, 52 meeting rooms and a 175-seat conference theater. Its new full-service kitchen can accommodate 15,000 meals per day.
Retrofitted for the 21st century, KICC’s updated design reimagines the role of the convention center and stands to further boost the positive economic transformation of downtown Louisville.