Compared to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates – which looms over the world at a mind-blowing 2,722 feet (829.8 meters) – no human-made structure in the United States comes anywhere close to measuring up. Chicago’s famous Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) once held the title for the world’s tallest building. However, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, stole that coveted crown in 1998. In 2010, the Burj Khalifa broke every record imaginable, becoming both the tallest building and free-standing structure in existence. (As an aside, I have been to the top of the Burj Khalifa and nearly lost my mind). In any case, a visual representation of the loftiest architectural wonders across the globe quickly underscores how diminutive most American skyscrapers really are by contrast.
Still, despite falling drastically short by comparison, 400 West Market Tower – soaring to an impressive 549 feet (167 meters) and boasting 35 stories – proudly stands as Kentucky’s tallest building. Construction began in 1991, with a total cost of $100 million. Prominent and iconic, this pretty building has been beautifying the Louisville skyline since its debut in 1993.
To add a little confusion, the building has endured several significant name changes over time. Originally designated the Capital Holding Building, it subsequently became the Capital Holding Center. Next, it was rebranded as the Providian Center, to reflect its affiliation with Providian Financial Corporation. Later, it transformed yet again into Aegon Center, to align with the Dutch financial company of the same name. When Aegon vacated the premises in 2010, it landed on its current name of 400 West Market. All of these alterations mirrored vital shifts in business nomenclature and ownership. However, many people still refer to the building archaically as the Aegon Center.
Most buildings of this height boast steel construction. But not 400 West Market. Instead, it consists of reinforced concrete – giving it a modern appearance. One of the most remarkable features of the Aegon Center is the 85-foot-high Romanesque dome, a nod to other glass domes of Midwest structures like the West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana and the Chicago Cultural Center in Illinois. At dusk, the elegant dome and the upper floors cast a luminescent glow across the city. Notably, during the period from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day, 400 West Market transforms its customary white lighting into a gorgeous fusion of radiant red and green hues for the holidays The 400 West Market’s exquisite design and architectural elements breathe life into the cityscape of Kentucky, particularly after dark.
Finally, while it may not be as wondrous as the tallest building on earth, 400 West Market is still delightful to behold. Moreover, it’s not too far from many of Kentucky’s natural wonders should you choose to leave the city and explore all the Bluegrass State has to offer.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Nicholas Klein/iStock via Getty Images
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