Louisville, Kentucky, USA is most probably not a city that’s on the radar of many people. The city of roughly 700.000 inhabitants located at the Ohio River is hardly known outside the US. This might change though, at least for people who are interested in architecture, since the city is the site for what is probably one of the most polarizing current architectural projects, “Museum Plaza”.

Originally planned as a new art museum and art center, it became soon clear that a fairly large selection of other uses for the building would be needed in order to come up with the running costs of the complex. In the end, it was decided to build a mixed use 62-story skyscraper including luxury condos, offices and a hotel besides the main art space. Since the contraints of the building site were very difficult, the New Yorker architectural office REX (led by Joshua Prince-Ramus, who was once a partner of Rem Koolhas at OMA) had to turn usual architecture standards upside down, in the truest sense of the word.

REX’s project website shows an (at first sight) somewhat ugly and non-proportional building. It takes some time and explanation to get behind the idea of this building and see why it’s special and what makes up the actual concept. And that concept is explained by Joshua Prince-Ramus at TED TALKS, the video of which can be seen at the company’s website. Prince-Ramus talks about three different projects, Musum Plaza is the last one, about two thirds into the video. The solution of lifting the public parts of the building way up into the air becomes clear as he talks about the constraints and circumstances of the project. From this perspective, the clumsy building seems to fulfill its intention and will also provide a new architectural landmark that will probably give a boost Louisville’s reputation (at least, I would like to see that monstrous building in person).

The video and presentation finishes with an animation about Museum Plaza that is very well worth seeing, even if you’re not interested in the architecture itself. The way the video was filmed and the way it seamlessly combines shaky hand-camera filming with rendered and animation sequences is breathtaking. If you don’t want to load that whole video to see this, you could also see the video at YouTube, albeit with a much worse quality.