The Rupp Arena at the University of Kentucky is one of the largest collegiate basketball venues in the United States and, despite enjoying high numbers of supporters, the arena has become outdated for modern use at almost 40 years of age. A team comprising NBBJ, EOP and SCAPE has been brought on board to redesign this well-used arena.
No additional seating will be added to the 23,000-seat stadium but the design team intends to upgrade the arena bowl with an entirely new suite level. To preserve the essence of the existing structure, the appearance of the original two-tier system will be retained as will the structural towers that currently define the Rupp Arena.
The complex will be divided horizontally into two sections - the upper and lower tiers. The lower tiers will be wrapped in a transparent glass skin that reaches as high as 40ft in some places for added visual connectivity. Spectators will also be able to watch the action from the main concourse due to a newly expanded space that wraps the bowl with sightlines to the court.
Externally, a large urban plaza will welcome visitors on the eastern side with a new retail edge around the Hyatt Hotel creating ‘a dense and lively experience’. The redeveloped arena will also speak to the masterplan for a downtown pedestrian axis; to the north and the west of the Rupp Arena, a gorge will be designed that connects downtown with a newly planned park.