LOUISVILLE, Aug. 6, 2018 — From forklifts last week to a grand opening celebration today, the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) opened on time and on budget as thousands of guests and dignitaries toured the nearly one-million-square-foot facility. The expansion, designed by the collaboration between EOP Architects, the Chicago office of HOK and convention center specialist Donald Grinberg, FAIA, increases KICC’s contiguous exhibit space by more than a third and is expected to boost local convention and trade show business by 25 to 30 percent.
On hand at today’s grand reopening event were (L-R) Louisville Tourism President and CEO Karen Williams; Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher; Stacey Church, KICC general manager; Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary William Landrum, III; KentuckyVenues CEO David Beck, who moderated the program; and Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Don Parkinson.
“They tore it down and built it back in 24 months. It’s an amazing feat of engineering and construction. So, we’re very optimistic about the future. This is really a good step forward for Louisville and for Kentucky,” Secretary Parkinson said at the opening.
During the two-year project, the western half of the building was redone to pave the way for a sweeping 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.
“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 explained. “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.
For Louisville and Kentucky, KICC means a more than $53 million annual economic impact, a 25% increase in downtown business and nearly 1,000 full- and part-time jobs. For the visitor experience, KICC means close proximity to more than 6,000 hotel room and dozens of fine dining and casual restaurants as well as walking distance to a vast array of museums, distilleries, gift shops and other attractions all propel Louisville into a first-tier convention city.
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