A new 860-space parking garage at the Galt House is already under construction on Third Street which includes a pedway parallel to Third providing visual screening from the blank wall of the Galt House’s Ballroom. A second pedway across Third Street connecting to the arena now appears to be a reality after it had been in jeopardy over financing.
Financial details are still being worked out, but what we have now is a design that will eventually be in place by the end of the year—and it’s quite structurally unique. Ken von Roenn, president and lead designer at Architectural Glass Art, designed the pedway to include a structural glass canopy with iridescent dichroic glass that changes color depending on the light.
There are already several examples of this colorful glass around the Galt House and Downtown. Another pedway across Main Street also designed by von Roenn several years ago includes a dichroic glass sculpture and the Galt House recently installed glass tulips on its Conservatory over Fourth Street. The new parking garage will also feature dichroic glass sconces on its pedway to Main Street.
When there is no daylight to bring about the playful nature of this glass, the new pedway across Third will also feature an interactive light display that senses when someone is walking inside. Like its counterpart across Main Street, this pedway will be a work of art.
Perhaps most interesting, though, is the structural nature of the glass. The supporting platform will obviously include steel, but everything above will be glass with slender columns comprised of three pieces of 3/8-inch sheets laminated together. Interestingly, glass is stronger than steel in similar applications and entire houses have been built of nothing but glass (Just remember not to throw stones). Imagine those fancy glass staircases at the flagship Apple stores.
While many urbanists remain skeptical about pedways and their effect on sidewalk vitality, I believe this example is worth the investment. Not only is it a dynamic piece of artwork, but it’s location is mid-block and far removed from the corner of Third and Main Streets. With the arena expected to host large events, this pedway could help pedestrians cross a street that might otherwise be clogged with cars. There will be so much to see and do directly around the arena on all sides that there shouldn’t be a problem attracting people to the sidewalks.
Architectural Glass Art was founded in Louisville in 1875 and is responsible for many dynamic art installations found throughout the city and nation.