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Humana Building of Louisville – One of the 10 Best Buildings of the 1980’s
One of our memorable visits to the US in 2006 was to visit the Humana Building, a skyscraper at 500 West Avenue, a major landmark in downtown Louisville. The soaring 27-story building is the headquarters of Humana Corporation, now one of the nation’s leading companies providing affordable and flexible health care plans to millions.
Looking to create a headquarters structure that would stand eloquently against the prevailing traditional modernist corporate architecture, the large and prosperous corporation sponsored an architectural competition from which to determine the best design. Renowned New Jersey architect Michael Graves stands out from a long list of the most famous architects.scale models of the designs are displayed in the vestibule directly above the building’s main street entrance
The Humana Building is the largest and most ambitious work to date by an architect whose career has taken off at breakneck speed. His credits include: The Portland Building in Portland, Oregon, the San Juan Capistrano Library in Southern California, the new museum at Emory University in Atlanta, and the expansion of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York .
Construction on the Humana Building began in October 1982 and was completed in May 1985. It covers 588,400 square feet, seats 1,650, and cost about $60 million. This is one of Graves’ most famous projects.Because, in addition to receiving American Institute of Architects National Honor Award year 1987 time magazine list it as one of The 10 Best Buildings of the 1980sIt is also widely regarded as one of the most distinctive skyscrapers in the United States and a textbook example of postmodernism. It is a colorful composition composed of abstract, highly individual variations of classical forms, a collage of modernist and classical elements in a way that is unaffected by them but establishes its unique postmodernist identity combined in a way.
Graves wanted the building to fit into its downtown Louisville context, drawing inspiration from the Ohio River, its bridges, and the streetscape and skyline of 19th-century Main Street. Surprisingly, the building blends seamlessly with Louisville’s streetscape and skyline. “A tower built on a city street rather than behind an empty square, it is easily related to its neighbors.”. A grand achievement indeed, it fits perfectly with the otherwise predominantly three- and four-story 19th-century commercial buildings, many in cast iron, a true architectural gem in Louisville. “A full block of these old buildings sits on the main street west of Humana, and the base of the new tower connects them neatly and elegantly, like any tall building meets a group of smaller buildings. Small old building and large The new building meets comfortably, the new building never directly imitates the old building, but its shape, color and details are carefully adjusted. The mutual support relationship of these buildings is in stark contrast to the huge, silent tower on the other side of Humana The black glass on Main Street relates to its neighbors. That cold box is completely removed from everything around it, an anti-urban legacy of Louisville’s last generation of architecture. Humana is a response to all of that. A building that represents, it cannot but be Louisville Vile civilization exists.” The materials it’s made of are expensive—pink granite for most of the surface, with several other types of polished granite. .
Each side of the building has a slightly different design, with the top floors in a leaning pyramid style. Like many post-modern skyscrapers, it adopts the classical rule of thirds, with a strong sense of base – the 8-story loggia extending in front of the office structure, the shaft, the top floor, and buildings near the same level as the height. The flat pink granite plinth of the eight-storey building has an open arcade, with square crimson granite columns dominating the first few floors. The main slab of the tower, which sits above the base but set back quite a bit from it, is clad in pink granite and dotted with relatively small square windows with a solid glass column in the centre. Further up, the square windows give way to large expanses of glazing on several floors. A massive metal truss juts out from the building, supporting a large curved loggia, a sort of flying balcony at the top of the building. This large, curved section towards the top of the building is an open-air observation deck. The outermost ends of the circle are surrounded by glass, providing room for several people at once with stunning views of the Ohio River and Main Street. Greve was inspired to design this curved balcony by a Victorian engraving of a family admiring the Ohio River from an old water tower. Above the loggia, the roof of the building slopes inward, like a sort of gable crown. The pyramid – or notched gable – is topped with a curved roof. The main attractions of the building are the loggia, waterfall, lobby, rotunda, mezzanine and 25th floor.
gallery There is a 50-foot waterfall as an architectural gesture to the Ohio River, a reminder of the origins of Louisville, Ohio Falls more than 200 years ago. The open-air front of the loggia contains a large fountain. The columns of the loggia are covered in pink and green granite and decorated with gold leaf.
The entrance is set on a curved wall with waterfall fountains on both sides. This curving six-segment dam or waterfall is an architectural gesture to the nearby Ohio River. Huge columns surround the entrance area. 50 feet below the granite pilasters opposite the main entrance. Eight vertical fountains in front of the column complement the waterfall.The facade of the building features an outdoor atrium with skylights above the main entrance
lobby, Built from different colored granites from different parts of the world Like the loggia, this is a public space designed to welcome visitors. The first is Italian white and gray granite and French black marble. These fine details, rich colors and clever combinations are enough to provide visual variety without the need for overall coherence with a calm, confident hand. The lobby is accessed from Main Street through a 450-pound bronze entry door, another important feature in itself.
rotunda, a classical architectural structure, is another point of interest for the building. Also on the first floor, accessible through the lobby or Fifth Street entrance. The rotunda houses the building directory, the information desk, and two striking original Roman marble statues, carved about 1,970 years ago. The one closest to the information desk is called “Roman Statue of the Goddess Fortuna”. The second is called the “Statue of the Roman Goddess”, and the marble flanks the vestibule at the Main Street entrance, leading to another point of interest in the building, Mezzanine To the south, you’ll find a seated statue in 1,800-year-old marble said to be from the Roman Empire.
25th floor There is a sun room at the front of the building. Each floor has its own glass-enclosed, curved south-facing conservatory used as a staff lounge. The large pyramid-shaped end of the terraces represents the dam at the time of the Ohio River Falls. This can be easily accessed from the reception hall. The terraces on the façade are supported by steel grid trusses, an architectural signature for the many metal truss bridges across Ohio. Right next to the building.The bronze sculpture in the reception hall, called “Constructed Head 2,” is said to have been completed in 1918 by Russian-born artist Naum Gabo
The building also makes smart use of space. The base’s first-class public spaces and huge cylindrical arcades are the most exciting. Its square columns are articulated with gold-leaf grooves, and the space has a gentle curve to accommodate the waterfalls and fountains on either side of the main entrance. There is a good order between all the spaces. The front door leads to a small foyer, which in turn leads to a large, roughly square hall; leading to a rotunda, and only after the rotunda is the elevator hall. But the sequence is clear and the action is direct and simple. The three-story lobby is surrounded by its own second-floor arcade, offering pleasing breathing space and freedom.
In general, as Paul Goldberger appreciates New York Times:
It is a striking form – exerting strong visual appeal. Humana is a warm and inviting building. It is both serious and vivid. It’s neither fatally boring nor frivolous.It’s neither boring nor stupid – it’s a building of nobility as much as of energy and passion.
Not far from this building are other buildings owned and occupied by Humana: the Waterside Building at 1st and Main Streets, and the Riverview Square at 2nd and Main Streets. Humana has leased space in three downtown buildings at National City on the 400 block of Main Street, the 515 Building on Market Street and the ISB Building on Magazine Street, with plans to lease more space at the Marina Plaza East Tower on the 300 block of Main Street.
Humana recently restored historic preservation to several blocks of 19th-century buildings next to the headquarters building. It is working with conservation experts to ensure the neighbourhood’s historic integrity is maintained. With more than 8,500 employees in downtown Louisville, Humana aggressively pursued its dream of not only changing the face of downtown Louisville, but re-attracting residents and housing its growing workforce nearby. It has been as committed and involved in improving the quality of life in various cities as they are in improving the health of its program members. In April 1998, Humana purchased the mostly vacant Jacksonville Center for $32 million, with plans to renovate and relocate its 1,200 employees scattered throughout Jacksonville. Seven buildings in the city. These employees include one of Humana’s four regional service centers, which handles claims processing and customer service functions for the company’s southeastern U.S. members, as well as the company’s Jacksonville health plan administrative and sales staff. So in reality the Humana building is just a hub Humana has multiple interests and engagements around it in healthcare, insurance, art collections, performing arts, philanthropy, creation of vast parks and sterling donations especially among Americans .
June 2006 Humana Building Tour
Assessment; Architecture for Humanity in Louisville: The Brilliant Work of MICHAEL GRAVES Paul Goldberger, New York Times Special
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