Whitney Hale


College: Design

UK Students Develop Water Innovation Center Designs

Published: Oct 25, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 25, 2012) — Over the last year, two University of Kentucky College of Design graduate students, Xiaoyin Li and Brandon Spencer, have been busy imagining and creating models for a new international water innovation center.


Li, from Lexington, found the actual process of creating the project was what she enjoyed most. "This project was carried out in a year where the students spent one semester on research and one semester on design," Li said. "I loved the idea of doing extensive research before leaping into the design phase, because this makes my final design more relevant and perhaps more creative than trying to make up something from thin-air."


The water innovation center project stemmed from an idea of Louisville Water Company (LWC) CEO Greg Heitzman. He wanted a center that would enable students of all ages to come together to study water and develop water treatment technologies. LWC commissioned the project and UK students and faculty have been hard at work attending workshops and bringing their ideas to life over the past year. The workshops presented students with an opportunity to talk with engineers, architects, and designers to gain information that would assist their models.


Spencer, from Orland Park, Ill., found the planning process and workshops very useful. "It provided my classmates and me with a great opportunity to work within a real world application in architecture. During the course of the project we had many opportunities to sit and talk with the president, vice president, chief financial officer, and director of marketing about what they would like to see in an innovation center."


The building's proposed site is on Zorn Avenue at the historic water tower located along the Ohio River in Louisville. Based on its location, it was important to include the river as part of the model. In addition to the river, the architecture students also had to showcase the appearance of the center and how the Louisville community could utilize the space. Spencer and Li did just that, and their models were a highlight of a pre-conference event held as part of the 2012 IdeaFestival.


Li says she hopes her design proposal will help "transform the Louisville Water Company's Zorn Avenue site into a 'hub' of public spaces where locals and visitors can gather and learn about water."


To achieve her goal, Li's proposal includes four major public programs to attract people as well as to satisfy LWC's initial requirements for the water innovation center. These four programs are: an auditorium-rooftop swimming pool complex, a Greek theater, a spray fountain plaza, and finally the water innovation center itself.


Spencer's proposal took on an approach with the center itself being broken into two main parts. The first of these parts is the water innovation center. Located in this section he designed a research facility, cafe, large exhibition space, classrooms and administrative offices. The second section was designed to house the auditorium, reception area, and river deck, which could be rented for special events in the community. 


Li and Spencer's proposals are being considered for the final concept. Although there is not currently a funding source for the project Heitzman believes grants will become available.




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or whitney.hale@uky.edu







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