by F. Andrew Taylor
The nearly 300,000 sq.ft. Kentucky International Convention Center opened in 1977 just two blocks from the Ohio River in Louisville’s historic downtown. The land had previously been the Tyler block; a large building had stood there for a century and was an impressive structure in its own right, reflecting the architectural style of its time. KICC replaced the previous convention center, now called Louisville Gardens. That facility went by the name the Louisville Convention Center in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
In 2016 the KICC shut down for a two year renovation and expansion, lead by EOP Architects, global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK, and Hunt Construction Group. More than 60 sub-contractors worked on the $207 million expansion which increased the size of the structure by a third. The facility reopened in 2018 with much fanfare and now includes a 40,000-sq.ft., column-free ballroom, 52 meeting rooms, and a 175-seat tiered conference theater.
Levy Restaurants operates several venues within the KICC, notably Oak & Brew, a “coffee by day, bourbon by night” concept. It serves grab-and-go items in the morning and transforms into a bourbon bar later in the day with sampling sessions available from area distilleries.
Despite its lack of a permanent arena, the facility has hosted several sporting events. These include both mens and womens basketball games, held in one of the exhibit halls temporarily converted into an arena with approximately 7,000 seats.
In May of 2020 the KICC earned a LEED Silver certification based on green changes made during the recent renovation. The upgrades included low-flow plumbing fixtures, reducing water usage throughout the facility by 32 percent, LED and occupancy sensor lighting. The certification was bestowed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Levy Restaurants, which partners with the KICC, also implemented their own green changes, reducing food waste through local donations and composting.
The KICC recently received GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council) Star accreditation, the gold standard in outbreak prevention, response and recovery. The KICC and Kentucky Exposition Center are the first centers in Kentucky to have received this accreditation.
This story originally appeared in the Nov./Dec. 2020 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 40. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_nov-dec_2020