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400 West Market
At 549 feet and 35 stories high, 400 West Market is the tallest building in Kentucky and a defining feature of the Louisville skyline. Construction of the reinforced concrete tower began in 1991 and was completed in 1993. The tower contains 652,437 square feet of leasable space and is adjoined by a five-level parking garage. Designed by John Burgee in association with Philip Johnson at the conclusion of their 25-year partnership, the pale gray 400 West Market provides a cool Postmodern counterpoint to Michael Graves’ colorfully Postmodern Humana Building of 1982–1985.
With its three-part division of base, shaft, and cap, the building is a re-assertion of the elegance and classicism of an earlier period in skyscraper design. Although it has a comparatively truncated cap, the tower bears some resemblance to Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue’s design for the Nebraska State Capitol of 1922–1932. Burgee and Johnson’s tower is sheathed in pale gray Italian granite, which is complemented by polished dark gray granite of the dado and main entrance door surrounds. Polished nickel is used for the Art Deco style lanterns and window grilles of the entryway.
The most conspicuous aspect of the tower is the 85-foot-high traceried open dome, which harkens back to the glass domes of the Midwest, as seen in the West Baden Springs hotel in French Lick, Indiana (Harrison Albright, 1902), and the old Chicago Public Library, now the Chicago Cultural Center (Coolidge and Spencer, 1893–1897). E. Fay Jones employed the same device, although in an entirely different idiom, for his John B. Begley Chapel at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky, of 1992–1997.
Luhan, Gregory A., David Mohney, and Dennis Dorner. Louisville Guide. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004.
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