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WOW! Factor

Exterior design for new downtown arena unveiled

Dynamic … Iconic … Contemporary …

arena.jpg These are the words architects designing the new downtown arena hope people will use when describing the facility's exterior, design, which recently was unveiled to the public.

Construction on the multipurpose arena-a 700,000-square-foot, 22,000-seat facility that will serve as the future home for the University of Louisville men's and women's basketball programs-is scheduled to begin this summer with completion in fall 2010.

HOK Sport, the architectural firm on the project, presented the arena's design to the Louisville Arena Authority in August. The goal was to create a "modern blend of glass, metal and stone, coupled with a dramatic, wing-like roof," says Steve Hotujac, HOK Sport principal.

"But most importantly, the arena will be a lasting symbol of the vibrant community of Louisville and of the commonwealth of Kentucky."

Cardinal basketball coach Rick Pitino says the "arena will undoubtedly be one of the finest, first-class facilities in America." He also thinks it will "make such an unbelievable statement for this community."

Key elements of the design include expanses of glass that connect patrons with pedestrians, limestone panels on the lower portion of the exterior walls and a dramatic, curving roof line.

Serving as the arena's front door on West Main Street is a large-scale civic plaza, which includes informal seating areas, open space for public gatherings and performances, landscaping and an interactive fountain. The river side of the building echoes the movement of the Ohio River with the roof becoming transparent as it curves downward, offering panoramic views of the water from the sports bar and multipurpose meeting rooms.

UofL athletic director Tom Jurich says the facility should help draw more people downtown as well as attract elite student-athletes to the university.

"It's exciting to me that the sheer size of the facility will allow so many new Cardinal fans an opportunity to be at our games," Jurich says.

The transparent facade will create a feeling of openness, says Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson. "At night, the glass and lights will make the arena glow, a sparkling fixture on Louisville's skyline that showcases the new energy in our downtown."

A new energy that UofL is committed to, says President James Ramsey.

"Like our Cressman Center for Visual Arts, the commitment of our fine arts program to Museum Plaza and the ambitious expansion of our Health Sciences Center, this project will be a tremendous boost to downtown activity and a catalyst for economic development," Ramsey says. "UofL's downtown presence continues to grow, and our engagement will have a tremendous financial and cultural impact on Louisville and the commonwealth."

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