Rupp Arena Reinvention

LOCATION: Lexington, Kentucky

FEATURES:

Transparent, expanded envelope; upper bowl seat backs, expanded restrooms and new hospitality suites
Design Partner: NBBJ

CLIENT: City of Lexington

TYPE: Renovation/Expansion

AWARDS: AIA Kentucky, Unbuilt Award, 2018; AIA Los Angeles, Honor Award, 2014; AIA Los Angeles, Honor Award, 2014

SUMMARY:

NBBJ + EOP are designing a comprehensive renovation of Rupp Arena, the largest basketball arena in the US and home to the nation’s most-winning college basketball team, the Kentucky Wildcats. Over its four decades of use, it has earned cult status. It’s a center of pride on hallowed ground and its renovation pays homage to that tradition while updating it for a new era.

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EOP_Work_Rupp_Model_1600x1000

Interview with Rick Ekhoff


WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH RUPP?
Everyone in Lexington and around the region has spent time in Rupp Arena.

WHAT WAS THE CENTRAL CHALLENGE?
We needed to preserve the iconic character of Rupp Arena, but upgrade it across the board. The original building doesn’t have the capacity for its activities, it doesn’t provide adequate space or facilities for the kinds of events they want to host. For example, it doesn’t meet the standards for NCAA tournaments.

This is a huge opportunity for Lexington to take a step forward as a city. It’s a game changer.


“This is a huge opportunity for Lexington to take a step forward as a city.”



EOP_Work_Rupp_Night1_1600x1000
EOP_Work_Rupp_Night1_1600x1000

WHAT PART OF THE PROJECT EXCITES YOU MOST?
The catwalk over the plaza connects the convention center with the arena. This gives Lexington a multi-functional civic space that will transform the character of downtown. It extends the energy of the arena and convention center into the downtown area and really electrocutes the city. We also implemented transparency into the overall design to amplify that even further.


“It extends the energy of the arena and convention center into the downtown area.”


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