Riverfront development, Louisville, Ky.

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Duncan, Bruce L.
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Thesis (B. Arch.)
College of Architecture and Planning
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Louisville, Kentucky, for the past 50 years has been trying to develop or redevelop its deteriorating riverfront. The commercial district has been slowly moving southward (especially along Fourth Street and warehousing has filled this void. Within the past couple of years much of this land (between First and Ninth Streets and approximately two blocks deep) has become marked as an urban renewal area.Like many other urban areas Louisville's central business district has been declining due to the development of suburban shopping centers. Most of the merchants of this area would like to draw the people back to the center, especially if these functions are of very little competition to them. The city of Louisville would also like to generate some sort of 24 hour life in its center.In the past couple of years Louisville has realized that it is deficient in the number of cultural activities it has to offer. Louisville metropolitan area has about 850,000 people. This seems to be a sufficient number of people to support a few cultural activities (i.e. a theater, museums, etc.). About five years ago in Louisville a theater was started and it has met great success. Unfortunately, Louisville is building an expressway loop -- part of which goes along the river. The theater is in its path of destruction.There have been many proposals pertaining to the riverfront but it hasn't been until recently (1963) when Doxiadis Association, Inc. from Washington D.C. were commissioned to do an overall plan. Their plan is basically this: the expressway runs along the river, between the boundaries of the Riverfront Project, at the approximate elevation of the current flood wall; a belvedere is to extend over this, at the current level of the present business district and then connect vertically, in some manner, to the wharf area below, along and on the Ohio River. The belvedere is to extend between Fourth and Sixth Streets with three to four levels of parking below.As in almost all proposals or plans there have been so many changes that the belvedere level, with the exception of an apartment complex and a motel, is completely up in the air. Therefore, I feel that this would be an opportune place to develop a cultural center. I know at present that the theater will need a new site, Louisville is also trying to get a natural history museum "started", there has been talk of a botanical garden, there is always a demand for office space and small commercial stores which could help to finance a project like this.I propose as my thesis to study the needs and demands (present and future) of Louisville’s cultural desires. When these are determined then develop the river-front area previously defined and then to select a specific area within. This area at present will probably involve the theater – for I feel that a theater would be a good project to bring about the culmination of many of the physical and environmental problems present in many other situations.