The design for the new Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) highlights its civic role and presence in downtown Louisville. A distinctive colonnade and canopy unify existing and new elements, while a new entryway acts as an inviting front porch for the city.
Convention centers tend to be introverted buildings that turn away from their surroundings. For KICC, HOK collaborated with local partner and architect of record EOP Architects to create an urban extrovert. The convention center celebrates its central location, using its activity and presence to contribute to the transformation of downtown Louisville.
The project maintained the expansion and programming goals of the client—the Commonwealth of Kentucky—by extending the building’s prefunction spaces over the sidewalks of two prominent downtown streets.
These transparent additions breathe new openness and daylight into the building’s interior venues. By day, visitors enter a sun-dappled interior accented with oak wood panels reflective of Kentucky bourbon barrels. At night, that same translucent prefunction space casts a warm glow over the neighborhood.
The center’s canopy and the undulating public spaces of its piano nobile reflect the verticality of the tree canopy in Louisville’s Olmsted-designed parks, the fluidity of the nearby Ohio River and the city’s tradition of providing front doors with welcoming porticos.
The center includes more than 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 40,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, a 175-seat conference theater and 52 meeting rooms. A full-service kitchen can serve 15,000 meals per day.
Because of their scale, convention centers can be difficult to navigate for out-of-town guests. HOK’s Experience Design team made wayfinding more intuitive by simplifying circulation paths and connecting visitors to their surroundings. New signage complements the building’s reimagined architecture and interiors.