Louisville hasn’t seen a week like this week’s international architectural press since the old days of Museum Plaza. Coincidentally, it’s the same architecture firm bringing in all the attention—Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). While we broke the news about the design of the West Louisville Food Port (née Hub) in early January, the design of the project at 30th Street and Market Street in Russell hit the architectural blogosphere anew this week when OMA sent its own press release.
OMA is one of the architecture world’s hot shots, and when they speak, people listen. So blogs across the world picked up Louisville’s Food Port and held it in the international spotlight for another cycle of the news before moving on to the next high design building somewhere in Scandinavia, China, or Dubai. Check out reports from Dezeen, Designboom, Archdaily, Curbed, Inhabitat, Mother Nature, Archiportale, and BauNetz.
“The diversity of program reflects the full food chain, as well as a new foodscape of public spaces and plazas where producers and consumers meet,” OMA’s partner-in-charge Shohei Shigematsu said in the press release. “The Food Port acts as a catalyst to activate the surrounding neighborhoods, exemplifying one of the complex urban relationships between architecture and food that our studio is investigating.”
Seed Capital KY, who is actually building the facility, has also issued an update. On Saturday, March 7, the West Louisville FoodPort Community Council will hold a free, community meeting to discuss the Food Port and food-based economic development. If you’re among the first 150 to show up, they’ll also give you a free boxed lunch made with local ingredients. According to Seed Capital KY:
During this lunchtime event, we’ll live stream Seed Capital KY Co-Founder Stephen Reily as he presents at TEDxManhattan on the need for economic and community development tools to meet the demand for local foods and better build the local food economy; Mayor Fischer will speak on the State of the Local Food Economy; and we’ll take a closer look at the FoodPort project through a brief overview followed by an open Q&A with 4 businesses committed to locating at the site: KHI Foods, Star Distributed Energy, The Weekly Juicery, and Jefferson Country Cooperative Extension.
Shigematsu is working on the project with OMA project manager Christy Cheng and local firm GBBN Architects. Senler, Campbell and Associates is serving as structural engineer, Sabak Wilson & Lingo as civil engineer, GEM Engineering as geotechnical engineer, and CMTA Consulting Engineers as MEP. OMA’s design team includes Jackie Woon Bae, Carly Dean, Ruth Mellor with Jorge Simelio, and Leen Katrib.
The West Louisville Food Port is expected to break ground in late summer of 2015, with businesses opening in phases. For more information on the project, check out our original story here.
It is a well-intentioned concept, but the design and layout reads uninspired. There is zero excitation in the execution. It will undoubtedly continue to transform until ground breaking, though I find the renderings as they are to be quite unsettling.
What could this string of structures possibly become in 100 years? What relationship does the site actually have to the neighborhood around it? To the numerous streets that terminate there? It’s as seemingly unapologetic as the big boxes and parking lots we are struggling to re-imagine today. It makes sense for the industrial nature of the businesses that will operate there, but the public spaces are piecey and lack relationship.
I don’t live in Louisville anymore, but I hope the neighborhood turns out for every meeting they can. This project is absolutely positive for the area, but it needs a good hard look. More work to be done.
In addition to what Eric said above the question about where the customers for this project will come from. The location is not very accessible from any place in town. If that within walking distance of any large population center, there is very little public transportation serving the area and even the street infrastructure in the area is poor.
This building is going to require a huge influx of people and money to keep it operational and thriving. Neither of which will occur in the projected location in my opinion. While a downtown area location is desirable for several reasons I think a better place could be picked to ensure the success of the project!