Plans for Kentucky International Convention Center expansion unv - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Plans for Kentucky International Convention Center expansion unveiled

Artist rendering of the renovated Kentucky International Convention Center. (Source: Gordon Boyd, WAVE 3 News) Artist rendering of the renovated Kentucky International Convention Center. (Source: Gordon Boyd, WAVE 3 News)
The current look of Kentucky International Convention Center at 4th and Jefferson. (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives) The current look of Kentucky International Convention Center at 4th and Jefferson. (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - State and local officials released drawings on Tuesday that show what the Kentucky International Convention Center will look like following its $180 million renovation.

The convention facility in downtown Louisville will close for two years starting in August 2016. When it reopens in 2018, the building will have 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and a more than 40,000 square foot ballroom within the footprint of the current structure. The project also includes meeting room renovations.

[SLIDESHOW: Kentucky International Convention Center designs]

Lexington-based EOP Architects, which now has an office in Louisville, and Kansas City-based HOK worked together to create the convention center design.

“The improvements for the Kentucky International Convention Center are very important to downtown Louisville and the many businesses that depend upon conventions in this city,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “This work will result in an annual economic impact of more than $50 million and will help retain current business and attract new conventions to Kentucky. Tourism is a major industry in our state with an economic impact of $13.1 billion last year.” 

[RELATED STORY: Convention Center officials hope renovation benefits outweigh losses from closure]

The center's new design will improve navigation and pedestrian flow through the building as well as improve the exterior of the building, emphasize entrances and enhance meeting rooms, according to a news release issued by the governor's office. Designed and constructed as a sustainable project, the design promotes energy and water conservation. The project will pursue the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certification.

Louisville is a unique convention city and has attracted the attention of meeting planners with its two convention venues, an arena, a downtown pedestrian skywalk and 17,000 hotel rooms in the metro area. The city hosts five of the country’s largest trade shows, according to Tradeshow News Network. By 2018, additional hotel rooms will bring 18,000 rooms to the Louisville area.

“The redesigned center will allow us to compete for more convention business, which helps support existing jobs and creates new ones. Combined with the Omni development, the bourbonism boom and the other new hotels, this convention center will add even more vitality to our vibrant downtown,” said Mayor Greg Fischer, who joined the governor and officials from the Kentucky International Convention Center in unveiling the renovation and expansion designs.

Events already are scheduled for the newly renovated convention center. Sweet Adelines International will bring its 2020 convention and 10,000 attendees to Louisville in part because of the new exhibit space and increased number of hotel rooms downtown, the governor's office said. The National Association for College Admission Counseling has also booked the expanded convention center for 2019.

“For many convention attendees, they will spend a lot of time in these walls. It is important that the iconography in the convention center is in line with Louisville’s brand, promoting all of the things that make this city great. We hope this will inspire them to return time and time again,” said Karen Williams, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The governor's office said over the last five years, the economic impact from tourism in Kentucky has increased by more than $2.2 billion to $13.1 billion. The industry has added 13,000 jobs and now supports 180,000 jobs statewide. These jobs generated more than $2.9 billion in wages for Kentucky workers, an increase of nearly $123 million from the previous year. 

Tourism generated $1.37 billion in tax revenues for local and state governments in 2014, an increase from $1.31 billion in 2013.   

EOP Architects is an award-winning design firm established in 1981 with offices in Louisville and Lexington. It was named Kentucky Firm of the Year by the American Institute of Architects.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. For five consecutive years, DesignIntelligence, an architecture industry research journal, has ranked HOK as a leader in sustainable and high-performance design.

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