Is the arena a whale?
Is the arena a whale?
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While walking down Witherspoon Street not too long ago, I was taking a few photos of the dramatic contour of the roof of the new arena. From this particular vantage point east of the arena, the structure is fully visible.

Is the arena a whale?
Is the arena a whale? (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Then it hit me, the arena isn’t a toaster or an all-in-one printer-copier-fax as some have jabbed in the past. From this angle, it doesn’t even look all that much like its twin in Liverpool.

It appears to be, in fact, a whale.

Just check out the sinuous curving roofline. What was supposed to evoke the flowing waters of the Ohio River rushing over the falls has turned out to be a beached porpoise, corralled inland by I-64. It’s even got its own blowhole, pictured below. Those condensing units, in the right situation, will be emitting vapor into the air.

Is this analogy a little too harsh? Iconic forms are always going to bring secondary images to mind. For more info on the ideas of iconic architecture, check out this interview with architect Charles Jencks or the blog Eikongraphia which documents iconic architecture from around the world.

What do you see when you look at the arena? Do you like the design?

Is the arena a whale?
Is the arena a whale? (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
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Branden Klayko

8 COMMENTS

  1. That is too funny…it does look like a whale. I almost launched my diet coke on the blow hole statement.

  2. In that last view from the Witherspooon garage, it looks like a giant tsunami bearing down on Main Street. Maybe we need to raise the floodwall! Or is that a paddlewheel on the right end of the building propelling it forward? Add some twin smokestacks & a calliope & the Belle might have a new rival in the Great Steamboat Race! Makes for a kind of neat architectural Rorschach test!

  3. I personally think the Arena is a great piece to add to the Louisville skyline, its got a modern sensibility to it that you cant really find here, but at the same time it brings with it a certain familiarity of water, maybe not quite as grandiose as the Falls of the Ohio, but a wave sure…In the end it is a fitting venue for the University of Louisville Basketball program and could help bring other events and sports to Downtown Louisville, I personally give it an A-.

  4. Wonder why the person who did this didn’t use the Cardinal head with the swoop, which is why the U of L logo will fit so nicely on the side of the structure. Probably would have generated the kind of response he or she was seeking.

  5. Louisville’s built form running to the river like a drop of water. Unfortunately, it does a horrible job of actually connecting the city with the water front.

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