Posts tagged with "Kentucky":

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Louisville Looks to Fill Vacant Lots With Design Competition

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer started 2014 off with a call to citizens: Help the city come up with creative ideas to redevelop vacant land. Local and far-flung designers are invited to re-imagine the land in a new competition. The winners of the Lots of Possibility competition will be awarded a total of $38,000 to put their vision into action. That money comes from local grant funding. A jury will choose six finalists in each of the competition’s two categories: residential or commercial use; and proposals involving temporary or interim use of vacant lots. Up to two winners will get $15,000 for long-term residential or commercial development, while up to two more could receive a one-year land lease and $4,000 to implement temporary ideas. “The rules for this competition are simple—be creative and be bold,” Fischer said in a press release. Louisville recently launched its VAPStat  (Vacant and Abandoned Property Statistics) program to share public information about abandoned properties, foreclosure and redevelopment opportunities. There are more than 6,000 vacant lots in the area, with a high concentration in western Louisville. A 2013 study estimated about half of the approximately 6,000 vacant properties would “be remedied through normal market forces.” The  Louisville/Jefferson County Landbank Authority and the Urban Renewal Commission own many more sites that they’re working to redevelop. More than 250 lots (list) have been made available for the Lots of Possibility competition. “[T]he faster the number of VAP properties are reduced,” reads the VAPStat study, “the sooner they become revenue-producing real estate and the sooner they start to have positive effects on their surrounding neighborhoods.” Sponsoring the competition are the Department of Community Services and Revitalization, Vision Louisville and the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, funded in part by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The competition page lists as inspiration St. Louis' Sustainable Land Lab, Youngstown, Ohio's Lots of Green program, and Flint, Michigan's Flatlot competition. Entries are due Feb. 24. The winners will be announced in April. Entry information here.
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Zip Lines Over the Ohio River? Louisville Designer Says It’s Possible

Louisville, Kentucky has asked its residents for help in determining the future vision for the city, and citizens sent in thousands of ideas on how to improve Possibility City. Among the crowd-sourced suggestions were many promoting alternative transportation, whether improving bike infrastructure to building light rail to, well, even more alternative methods of getting around. Local Russ Renbarger proposed what he calls RiverZips, a mile-long zip line across the Ohio River that would convey people between Kentucky and Indiana—more of a ride than an adventure, says Insider Louisville. Renbarger is founder of digital marketing firm Red Tag Ideas, based in the city’s suburban East End. It sounds far-fetched, but a recent municipal push to liven up Louisville could be just what his idea needs. The plan calls for attaching the zip line high atop a railroad-bridge-turned-pedestrian-bridge that connects downtown Jeffersonville, Indiana with Louisville's Hargreaves-designed Waterfront Park. Riders would land in a staging area in the park near the base of the Big Four Bridge. Mayor Greg Fischer called ziplines “far-out” while he unveiled citizens’ ideas for the Vision Louisville project, in comparison to more practical plans to revitalize the city, like more bike lanes. There are some logistical difficulties to the RiverZips proposal: the heads of the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation worried it would sit idle in the winter, and perhaps be “too obtrusive” at other times. Renbarger said the launch platforms could be removed, if necessary, and that a nearby iceskating rink could use the site’s base for vending during the winter. A former member of the Army Corps of Engineers, Renbarger says the 1-mile zipline is plausible. For now, though, the idea remains unfunded. But Renbarger, a “man about town” who appeared on the reality TV show "Southern Belles: Louisville," has people talking.

Lexington’s 21c Museum Hotel by Deborah Berke Partners Delayed

Those planning Lexington’s 21c Museum Hotel say the $40.5 million project will take longer than expected, but should come sometime in 2015. The growing Louisville-based hotel company bought the historic First National Bank building and an adjacent structure in Lexington's downtown last year, winning city approval for design plans shortly after. Once planned for office tenants, the boutique hotel in Lexington’s downtown apparently sustained more water damage than previously thought. New York–based Deborah Berke Partners has been tapped to design the boutique hotel. The firm also designed 21c Museum Hotels currently operating in Louisville, Cincinnati, and Bentonville, AR. As for its design, 21c CEO Steve Wilson told Kentucky.com:

As in the 21c hotels in Louisville and Cincinnati, the restaurant will be its own entity, with a high profile.

The hotel will not be pretentious, Wilson said: "No gilt mirrors."

Despite the pared-down aesthetic, it will be luxurious, with top-flight service, bedding and amenities; there will be light in all the right places, Wilson said.

There might be polished concrete floors or a chandelier of scissors, he said.

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NBBJ to Overhaul Lexington’s Rupp Arena, Convention Center

NBBJ's Los Angeles office will lead design on renovations to Lexington, KY's Rupp Arena and the city's convention center. With more than 23,000 seats, Rupp is the largest arena designed specifically for basketball in the United States. NBBJ, which will be working in collaboration with Lexington-based EOP, elected renovation over expansion or replacement after studying the 3-year-old arena. Renovation, they concluded, would save the city $215 million in construction costs. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said during a press conference that “the state will play some role” in the renovation projects, but did not say how. The University of Kentucky Wildcats draw large crowds to the downtown arena, as do concerts and other events. Designs for the renovation will be finalized over the next four months, the city said, with work expected to begin in late 2014. Construction will not interfere with the Wildcats’ basketball season. Renovations to the Lexington Convention Center will add 100,000 square feet to the facility, complementing Rupp’s renovation and amounting to a downtown arts and entertainment district. “Together, they will become the commercial, sports and entertainment destination that transforms Lexington,” said NBBJ partner Robert Mankin in a statement. Plans for that district last year included other new developments, including retail and housing, but have not secured financing. SCAPE Landscape Architecture was also selected earlier this year to re-imagine the landscape along Town Branch creek running through the site.
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After Half A Century, Cincinnati’s Roebling Bridge Welcomes Pedestrians

For the first time in half a century, residents of Cincinnati and Covington, Ky. can traverse the Ohio River on foot via Roebling Bridge, thanks to a pedestrian connector reopened June 4. The Roebling Bridge Pedestrian Connector ties Cincinnati’s central riverfront, the site of some major mixed-use development of late, to the city of Covington. The $430,000 project is part of The Banks’ public infrastructure improvement program. Lane closures will accompany renovations on the north end of the bridge, where a new roundabout and traffic signal will take a few months to complete. Pedestrians, however, can walk on through. Let's just hope a certain New York City mayoral candidate doesn't confuse the Roebling Bridge with its big brother in Brooklyn and snap a photo for his website!
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Eavesdrop Midwest Goes to the Kentucky Derby

Maybe You Lost My Number: Eavesdrop wants to know why we weren’t invited to your Kentucky Derby party, De Leon and Primmer. You guys are practically the only cool architecture firm in the River City! We were down in Louisville the weekend of the Derby and wandered (hungover, naturally) past your office on Sunday morning. That new bright green, sort of trellised structure erected in front of your place was really enticing. We wandered through that and did a little look-y loo in the windows of your studio, where we noticed the remnants of a party, like, 15 empty bourbon bottles. You guys, bourbon is Eavesdrop’s favorite beverage. We have so much in common! Call us! Don’t Hold Indiana Against Them: Driving I-65 the length of Indiana is so unbearable with its “Hell is REAL” billboards and endless Monsanto fields of pesticides, but it’s necessary to get from Chicago to the South. On our way home from the Derby, we were reminded of two places we’ve been meaning to stop and stretch our legs—and, no, it’s not the outlet mall. Seasonal tours at the Saarinen-designed Miller House in Columbus, Indiana, have restarted. The house is now owned and maintained by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the second place in Indiana we’ve been meaning to check out. This Architectural Life: The drive wasn’t that bad because I discovered a must-listen radio show devoted to design and architecture: 99% Invisible on WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR station. Look it up!
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Kentucky Architecture Back on the Map with a…Barn

(Courtesy De Leon & Primmer) All barn jokes aside, this is great news for the Louisville firm of De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop. They received one of the AIA’s Institute Honor Awards for Architecture, allegedly the first Kentucky project to do so since Michael Grave’s cash register, the Humana Building. The barn is an operations facility for Mason Lane Farm and it’s really kind of amazing. Let’s hope that this becomes a rags to riches design story and that we see bigger, more amazing projects coming from De Leon & Primmer. Now that Museum Plaza was knocked off the drawing board, there’s room for a new iconic tower in Louisville. (Photo: Courtesy De Leon & Primmer)
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Tree Expert: Speed Art Museum Mystery Tree Likely A Youngster

Over the past week, news of one allegedly-very-old tree cut down on the University of Louisville's campus where a wHY Architecture-designed addition to the Speed Art Museum is being built has tree experts in Louisville counting rings on a stump. Students creating a map of all 2,500 trees on the University's campus as part of Dr. Tommy Parker's Urban Wildlife Research Lab had estimated the tree was over 300 years old, generating an impassioned oped in the student newspaper. The Speed and local news sources looked further into the mysterious tree, using the stump and historical photos of the museum (above) to determined that the tree was really only 60 years old. Steven Bowling, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Speed Art Museum, also wrote in with this statement about the tree's removal:
As part of the Speed Art Museum's long planned expansion, the Speed and its architect, wHY Architecture, carefully analyzed the site and its space constraints. The goals were threefold: to protect the Museum's 1927 historic building to accommodate the Speed's growing audience, to link the expanded green spaces of the Museum with the University of Louisville Campus and to seamlessly integrate art and nature on the 6-acre site. During the planning phase, the Speed, together with the architects, reviewed several possibilities in consultation with landscape architects and an arborist to expand the Museum’s footprint with minimal interruption to the historic building, the surrounding area, and trees within the Museum's footprint. In the final plan, the tree needed to be removed. Removal of the tree, which the arborist determined was 60 years old, allows the site to be re-graded and expands accessibility for all visitors to the Museum and its grounds. While both the Museum and the architects regret the removal of that tree, the new Speed Art Museum which will re-open in 2016 will provide students and visitors with expanded green space that includes an art park and public piazza, as well as the planting of more than 40 new trees.
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Cincinnati is Recovering From the Swine Flu

Dear readers, Eavesdrop had the opportunity to explore Louisville, KY—our hometown—and Cincinnati, OH (a.k.a. Porkopolis) over the weekend. It’s been six or seven years since our last trip to Cincy and we have a couple things to say about it. It’s kind of a real city, like dense and old, with just enough corporate headquarters looming over the skyline. We finally got to see the HOK designed Great American Tower in real life and it’s just as bad in person as its renderings. You may remember that we thoroughly made fun of its fugly, Princess Di inspired, steel tiara—something about lipstick on a pig. Let’s update that to a more current comparison. That tiara is more Honey Boo Boo than Princess Di. Eavesdrop is not a fan of hats or tiaras on buildings—i.e. the Pappageorge Haymes-designed One Museum Park in Chicago with its sailor cap. The American Institute of Steel Construction disagrees, recently giving said tiara a design award. Cincy’s little sibling across the river, Covington, KY, has its own shiny shocker: Daniel Libeskind’s Ascent at Roebling Bridge, which is essentially a nautilus that mated with a Vegas hotel that was birthed onto the banks of the Ohio. And–just announced!–Covington is so hip that they’re turning their 102-year old City Hall into a boutique hotel. Despite a few eyesores, things in downtown Cincy are definitely looking up. The Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was shockingly vibrant in a way that should make Louisville’s NULU district extremely jealous. Louisville could use its own version of 3CDC, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, whose name adorned many banners and reconstruction projects. In Louisville there was nary a person walking the streets of East Market, NULU’s main drag. Cincy, please send some of that development juice downstream!
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Kamin: Humana Resurrecta

Blair Kamin seems to have joined the reconsider PoMo chorus, stating in his Sunday column that the movement “deserves a more sophisticated reappraisal.” The focus of the Tribune tribute was Michael Graves’s Humana building in Louisville, Kentucky.  By drawing comparisons to Johnson’s AT&T building in its unabashed commercialism and to Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 333 Wacker Drive for its national significance, Kamin writes that “Graves crafted a tower that could only have been built in Louisville.” The reassessment comes on the heel of Graves receiving the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for classical and traditional architecture in Chicago last month, which in turn came after last fall's PoMo Conference at New York’s Institute for Classical Architecture and Art. Seems that the classicists are going gaga for PoMo.
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Marriott, Developer Kill Gang’s Tower of Tubes

When Jeanne Gang was brought on board in April to help reimagine a stalled tower in downtown Lexington, Kentucky, the entire community's spirits were uplifted by the bold collaboration proposed by the Chicago-based architect and MacArthur genius. Studio Gang's design replaced an uninspired high-rise block that destroyed an entire city block before running out of steam, but developer Dudley Webb announced Thursday that Gang will no longer be involved with the mixed-use project. Studio Gang's proposal called for a 30-story tower of bundled tubes anchoring one corner housing a small hotel and residences and an 8-story crystalline office tower on the opposite side. In between, smaller structures to be designed by five local firms were situated around green space and organized with a cellular ground plan. Michael Speaks, Dean of the College of Architecture at the University of Kentucky was disappointed by the news that Studio Gang would no longer be involved. "I assumed, like I think a lot of people, Studio Gang had been hired to do the whole thing," he told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "My impression is that Jeanne thought they were going to do the whole project, too." Webb said the bundled tower was among the challenges that wouldn't work for the project. Plans for a boutique hotel fell through, so the developer reverted to original plans for a much larger J.W. Marriott convention hotel. Webb told the Herald-Leader that Marriott will only work with architects who have previously designed convention hotels, a project type Studio Gang hasn't undertaken. Jeanne Gang had expressed interest in working with an architect from Marriott to move the project forward. Now, EOP Architects, one of the five local firms brought on board by Gang to work on the project, will work to redesign the larger hotel and its accompanying 10,000 square foot ballroom and fit it into Studio Gang's master plan. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who was influential in bringing Studio Gang on board in the first place, suggested the city should insist on a design that won't compromise Gang's original vision.
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Stop, Collaborate & Lexington: Studio Gang Reveals New Plans for Stalled Kentucky Site

Developer Dudley Webb of the Webb Companies didn't make any friends when his company razed an entire block of Downtown Lexington, Kentucky for a massive mixed-use tower that ended up stalling in the recession. Now, though, after bringing on Chicago-based Studio Gang to help reimagine the project at the behest of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and dean of the University of Kentucky College of Design Michael Speaks, the community is regaining excitement over new plans to revamp the CentrePointe site. Jeanne Gang, principal at Studio Gang, took to the stage today to present her latest plans for the CentrePointe site and to announce a team of five Lexington-based architects (chosen from a pool of 25 applicants) who will collaborate on the project to offer variety and local character. The selected firms include: David Biagi, ArchitectCSC Design GroupEOP Architects; OMNI Architects; and Ross Tarrant Architects with Pohl Rosa Pohl. The focal point of the design is a 30-story tower of "bundled tubes" housing a hotel, apartments, and condos. The tower is similar to a concept massing model presented in early June, and features patterning reminiscent of traditional horse farm fencing common around Lexington. Gang told the Lexington Herald-Leader, "The benefit of the tubes is you can go inside and on top of them and have public spaces." Renderings show landscaped voids where the vertical tubes are separated as they rise to maximize air flow and sunlight hitting the building. Adjacent to the tower is an 8-story glass shard office building. Connecting the two larger buildings are a series of smaller scale structures to be designed by local architects. Studio Gang studied the topography of Lexington's equine landscape including the sinuous patterns created by fences around horse farms. Initial concept studies showed a cellular network based on these farms informing the site's layout. Gang also hopes for a pedestrian passage running through the center of the site, possibly housing a sculpture park.