Starting next August, the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville will be closed for two years, during which the facility will be renovated and expanded by 37% to 200,000 sf in a $180 million project.
The extended closing has worried local businesses that depend on the convention center for customer traffic. However, the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau assured these businesses that conventions affected by the closing could occur in other locations in the city.
State officials, including Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Gov. Steve Beshear, recently released renderings of the renovation, for which EOP Architects handled the design and architectural work with the Chicago office of HOK. Those renderings show an open floor plan with a glass-enclosed design. A 40,000-sf ballroom will be added within the center’s existing footprint. The convention center’s 52 meeting rooms will be completely renovated, and the facility’s kitchen is also being overhauled. The exhibition space will be located on one floor, says Richard Polk, a Principal at Lexington, Ky.-based EOP.
The center’s new design is expected to improve navigation and pedestrian flow through the building. The design promotes energy and water conservation, and the project will pursue the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver certification, according to Beshear’s office.
Beshear and Fischer see this project as essential to placing Louisville in the top tier of convention destinations in the country. Beshear said that 21 events are booked from the reopening of the convention center through the summer of 2023, six of which are new business and another six are returning only because the convention center will be larger.
Tourism produces $13.1 billion in annual economic impact and nearly $1.4 billion in tax revenue for Kentucky. The expanded and renovated convention center is expected to have an annual economic impact of more than $53 million, up from $43 million in recent years. It will support 1,050 hospitality and tourism jobs, up from 850 today.