For forty-four years it has been a towering presence in the River City.
Often mistaken for a Frank Lloyd Wright building, Kaden Tower was actually designed by William Wesley Peters, Wright’s protégé and son-in-law.
Built for a reported $2.7-million dollars, it was originally named Lincoln Tower – after the Lincoln Income Life Insurance Co. that once headquartered there.
Peters, who ran Wright’s architectural firm after his death, employed several design techniques which were influenced by his mentor.
The most distinctive is its cantilever structure, which means the tower’s 16 floors hang from a central core.
Other commonalities are several stained glass windows, the tower’s lace-like concrete panels, and the exterior glass elevator system.
In 1986 Kaden Companies bought the building and renamed it.
Today, Kaden Tower is home to several different businesses.
The Civic Center, on the bottom level, features floor-to-ceiling glass and overlooks a reflecting pool. It is rented for weddings and other occasions.
However, Kaden Tower is probably best known for the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse located on the top floor. The terrace offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
- According to Louisville.cc, Kaden Tower was influenced by three separate Frank Lloyd Wright projects, only one of which (H.C. Price Company Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma) was ever built.
- Kaden Tower’s unique “lacework” was designed to cut direct sunlight in order to cool the offices inside.
- Kaden Tower is connected to a circular, similarly-styled one-story building by a covered walkway. It houses Citizens Union Bank.
- William Peters’ first wife, Svetlana Wright, and son were killed in a car crash in 1946. His second wife, also name Svetlana, was the daughter of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
- William Peters became the head of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural firm, Taliesin Associates, after Wright’s death in 1959. Peters himself died in 1991, at age 79.
- The name Kaden is a combination of the names: Jim Karp, Bert Blieden and Mark Blieden. These individuals make up the Kaden Companies Partnership.
- Kaden Tower was renovated in 1986-1987 for a cost of $2 million, which included a fresh new coat of its signature salmon-colored exterior paint.
Frank Lloyd Wright was the subject of a Ken Burns documentary that aired on PBS. Visit the website here.
- Program 318
- A remembrance of political cartoonist Hugh Haynie, a visit to the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, glass artist Stephen Rolfe Powell, local tourism tips for your seasonal getaways and more. (#318)