The local food movement will soon sink big roots into Louisville, Kentucky by way of a 24-acre Food Port designed by the New York-based OMA office. Unlike typical farmer’s markets, the mixed-use project is designed to cater to both producer and consumer needs in a comprehensive farm-to-fork experience. Created in collaboration with the non-profit Seed Capital Kentucky, the Food Port will include urban farming, a marketplace, classrooms, processing facilities, community kitchen, and more.
In an ambitious effort to bring food producers and consumers closer together, OMA has developed a masterplan that consists of all stages in the food chain. To that end, the Food Hub design comprises a zigzagging built form framing outdoor public space on both sides and providing views out to the adjacent urban neighborhoods. The zigzag form also helps divide the logistics access from public access. Each of the building’s intersecting points serves as a major node that includes retail, processing, education, office, and production.
Louisville, a city nicknamed the “Gateway to the South,” has earned a reputation as a top foodie city in the U.S. The project’s designated site in West Louisville, however, has been classified as a food desert. Developers hope the Food Port will serve as an economic catalyst for the area and close the economic gap between West Louisville and the thriving East Louisville downtown.
“The Food Port provides a comprehensive survey of the food industry and its processes while relocating many food programs typically separated from the buyer back into the heart of the city,” writes OMA. “It defines a new model for how the relationship between consumer and producer can be defined and addresses uncaptured market demand and inefficiencies within the local food industry.” The Food Port is expected to break ground this summer.