Credit: Ted Wathen/Quadrant Inc.

Muhammad Ali Center

For the Muhammad Ali Center, a cultural and educational institution that interprets Ali’s life story and inspirational message, BBB designed a new building on a prominent site overlooking the Ohio River.

The Muhammad Ali Center is a 6-level facility located in Muhammad Ali’s birthplace at the edge of downtown Louisville. The building’s lower portion relates to the 19th-century context of the surrounding buildings, and the upper mass reaches skyward. The roof “lifts off” from a lower center ridge and caps a glass-enclosed sixth floor, recalling Ali’s famous quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.” The torch carried by Muhammad Ali at the 1996 Olympics is depicted on the building’s south side by a 3-story cone made of copper-hued aluminum panels, and an elliptical staircase within provides the connection to exhibition floors. The main feature of the exterior, a “wrapper” of 1’ x 2’ ceramic tiles in nine different colors, covers all four sides of the building. The wrapper appears from the entry plaza as an abstract pattern but resolves itself into images of Ali when viewed from a distance on interstate highway I-64.



Muhammad Ali Center


Louisville, KY


96,750 SF




Managing Partner
Associate Partner