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The birth of a legendary building. (Humana Inc.'s headquarters, Louisville, Kentucky).

Hailed by Time magazine as the "Building of the Decade" in the 1980s, the Humana building has become a legend in its own time.

The creation of the health plan's highly recognized headquarters, located in Louisville, Ky., began in January 1982 when Humana invited five internationally prominent architects to compete for the design. Prior to that, Humana's corporate staff occupied rented office space in the nearby area. The architects were asked to create a building of national architectural significance that would integrate well with downtown Louisville, spur the development of quality architectural design in the city and capture the imagination of the public, according to the company.

World renowned architect Michael Graves of Princeton, N.J., who also created the Portland Building in Oregon and the Swan and Dolphin hotels in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., was selected as the architect in 1982. Ground breaking began later that year, and the building was completed in May 1985.The cost was approximately $60 million.

Today, the unique 27story, 588,400 square-foot building, made of composite concrete and steel-beam infrastructure, masonry walls and granite-slab exterior, houses more than 1,600 people. Some of its special features include "the loggia," a covered out door gathering place; a curved, six-sectioned waterfall that cascades 50 feet down the pilasters into two pool, on opposite sides of the main entrance; a white, green and beige marble lobby; a rotunda and mezzanine, and a balcony located on the building's 25th floor. In addition, a variety of classical artwork is hung throughout the postmodern structure.

Humana Chairman and Co-Founder David A. Jones said in a chronicle of the construction of the Humana building that the company didn't set out to shock the community with its design. "What we did set out to do was cause the community to start thinking about architecture and art. Any time you do something different, you hear controversy. To me, that was a mark of success."

Jones, a native of Louisville, decided to build the company in his hometown after returning from law school and serving in the U.S. Navy. "After being away for six years, I wanted to return to my family because family is very important," he said. The company's other founder, Wendell Cherry, who died in 1991, was a native of Horse Cave, Ky.

The building has become come one of the mostly widely visited tourist attractions in Louisville. Located on Main Street, it boasts a view of the Ohio River.

The building houses a variety, of services for employees, including a fitness center with four indoor racquetball courts and two squash courts and the "c-store"--an on-site convenience store with a salad bar, coffee station and self-serve dell sandwich bar.
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Title Annotation:Health
Comment:The birth of a legendary building. (Humana Inc.'s headquarters, Louisville, Kentucky).(Health)
Publication:Best's Review
Geographic Code:1U6KY
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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