Humana is Vacating Its Michael Graves–Designed Headquarters in Downtown Louisville



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Louisville’s famed “Milk Carton” is being emptied.

Introduced previous this week, medical insurance behemoth Humana is vacating its headquarters at 500 Primary Boulevard in downtown Louisville in a large-scale consolidation maneuver brought about partly by way of the upward push in far flung and hybrid paintings following the COVID pandemic.

“Our staff around the nation have embraced new tactics of running in combination in each conventional place of business settings and thru using collaborative generation,” wrote the corporate in a commentary shared with the media. “On the similar time, we have now endured to evaluate our long run place of business area wishes in mild of diminished day by day usage and the desires of our industry.”

Finished in 1985 and venerated with the AIA Honor Award two years later, the 26-story place of business tower—a “development of serious dignity and a development of serious power and fervour,” extolled Paul Goldberger within the New York Occasions upon its opening—was once designed by way of Michael Graves and is regarded as an icon of Postmodern structure. The tower could also be on the heart of a lawsuit filed ultimate March by way of Humana towards Princeton, New Jersey–primarily based Michael Graves & Buddies at the side of DeSimone Consulting Engineering Crew and Wehr Constructors over alleged structural defects first found out in 2020—35 years after the development’s final touch—and for which the Fortune 500 corporate seeks reimbursement for remediation prices. “Even if the Humana Tower is secure for our friends and guests, since 2020 Humana has invested a substantial quantity in remediating structural parts of the Humana Tower to rectify authentic design, engineering, and development problems,” the corporate stated in its commentary.

The transfer out the 650,000-square-foot development, which Louisville Courier Magazine columnist Joseph Gerth deemed “some other demise knell for downtown Louisville,” will lead to a large glut of empty industrial place of business area in a once-busy central industry district already hollowed out by way of post-pandemic vacancies. Of the 66 primary American and Canadian towns ranked within the College of Toronto’s Downtown Restoration scores of post-COVID job in city cores, Kentucky’s greatest town has essentially the most problem rebounding along St. Louis, Missouri.


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Even if no longer the tallest development in Louisville, the award-winning Humana Tower is emblematic of town’s skyline. Picture by way of Thomas Kelley, Shutterstock

The transfer will reportedly happen over the following 18 to 24 months; all Humana staff recently running from the Humana Tower will shift to the corporate’s newly renovated Waterside-Clocktower campus, which could also be positioned in downtown Louisville to the east of the corporate’s soon-to-be-vacated flagship development. In step with the Courier Magazine, more or less 25 p.c of the corporate’s general native group of workers—about 2,500 other folks—recently paintings on the two places.

The destiny of the tower isn’t right away transparent as Humana, which owns the valuables, has reportedly no longer determined whether or not they plan to take care of possession or promote the development. The corporate did say that they’re “running intently with Mayor [Craig] Greenberg’s place of business and different town businesses to spot possible long run makes use of for the valuables in order that it may well proceed to be an asset to Downtown Louisville.”

In an Instagram ballot performed by way of native media outlet LouToday, Louisville citizens have been requested how they idea the development must be reused in its post-Humana afterlife. Respondents presented a spread of concepts, together with changing the tower to a mixed-income residential advanced or a highschool for generation and the humanities.

Regardless of its architectural importance and prominence at the Louisville skyline, the Humana Tower does no longer revel in any kind of landmark coverage. It was once integrated in an inventory of 15 landmark-worthy Postmodern structures known by way of architect Robert A.M. Stern, a modern of the past due Graves, revealed within the February factor of RECORD. Graves’ Walt Disney International Swan and Dolphin Lodges in Florida additionally seem on Stern’s checklist. 


Picture by way of Thomas Kelley/Shutterstock

Heralded by way of the Society of Architectural Historians as “a a success demonstration of the way structure after Modernism can liven up city area via colour, contextualism, and metaphorical references to the bigger atmosphere,” Graves’s design triumphed over sleeker, glass-and-steel proposals from the likes of Norman Foster and César Pelli in an early-Eighties pageant held by way of Humana for its new Louisville headquarters. Signature options of the development come with its beneficiant public loggia and waterfall fountain at the floor stage, curved open-air remark deck, and the sloping, pyramidal type of the crimson granite–clad tower’s higher reaches.

“It re-established the road edge as an crucial city shape,” writes Michael Graves & Buddies place of business of the tower in a “legacy challenge” essay revealed at the company’s web page. “Its architectural persona and reaction to context turned into a brand new city paradigm, a lot imitated within the years following its development.”

The Humana Tower opened 3 years after Graves’ groundbreaking Portland Development in downtown Portland, Oregon. Every other paragon of Postmodernism (albeit a significantly extra divisive one), the Portland Development was once added to the Nationwide Check in of Historical Puts in 2011. A number of years later, the 15-story municipal place of business development, plagued by way of myriad structural problems and populated by way of unadoring employees, dodged demolition when town opted to as a substitute embark on an intensive reconstruction effort.



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