Louisville, Kentucky's skyline, and the cultural profile of the community, is primed to become a lot more interesting in coming years. The New York office of OMA is slated to build a new mixed-use tower downtown, including a 40,000 square foot contemporary art museum, student housing, office space, condominiums, and retail space.
Joshua Prince-Ramus, a partner of Rem Koolhaas and the lead designer of the Seattle Public Library, will lead the project, which is expected to be at least 20 stories, though it could be significantly taller. Two prominent local philanthropists, Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown, and a real estate developer, Steve Poe, are the forces behind the project. Wilson and Brown, who are married, are also developing a boutique hotel a block away designed by Deborah Berke. "My wife and I have been interested in the redevelopment of Main Street for several years now," says Wilson. "We are happy to be working with what we believe to be the best architecture firm in the world."
The site is a small parcel of land on a sloping site between Main Street and the Ohio River adjacent to an interstate highway in the river's flood plane. The new Muhammad Ali Center, designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, which will be completed this fall, is located next to the site. The project quickly gained the support of city and state government, which pleased OMA. "The more interesting work seems to be happening in Red States right now, the places that 'cultured' America has written off," says Prince-Ramus. "It should be a wake up call for the coasts." A phase one conceptual design is expected in about six months, and the developers hope to complete the project within three years.