Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville. Courtesy HOK.

Kentucky International Convention Center



We provided structural design for the renovation and expansion of the Kentucky International Convention Center. The improved facility is expected to elevate Louisville’s hospitality and tourism industry. Our engineers collaborated with the local structural engineer, Brown & Kubican, on the design. The project will be completed by August 2018, when the first event is scheduled in the Exhibit Hall.

The new design increases the facility’s exhibit space from 146,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet and adds a 40,000-square-foot ballroom. The predominantly vertical expansion includes a new mechanical mezzanine floor and roof structure. Because the expansion is being built over an existing basement, significant reinforcement of the existing waffle slab was also required.

The Structure

Our team designed a braced-frame lateral-load resisting system that supports the long-span ballroom and exhibit hall roofs as well as the mechanical floor. In the ballroom, three main trusses support infill trusses. The exhibit hall’s three main roof trusses are supported by a new supertruss, which replaces the center’s partially demolished west wing. This design follows the slope and appearance of an existing supertruss, while the connection design uses large radial gusset plates to match existing connections.

The exhibit-hall level will cantilever over Jefferson and Market Streets, supported by the roof trusses and braced frames. The project will also reconfigure the facility’s prefunction space to decrease confusion and improve pedestrian wayfinding and flow.

Adding Value Through Design

During the design development phase, our engineers used the existing street-level waffle slab as a diaphragm to distribute all new lateral forces to the basement foundation walls. This eliminated the need to add shear walls and braced frames in the basement. This waffle slab is also the base level in our seismic design. These solutions greatly reduced the seismic force demand on the new and existing structures, helping to reduce construction costs and meet project budget demands.

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