Testing the impact of a new museum and 'Vertical Micro City' on a Memphis neighbourhood
Spatial Affairs studied Memphis’ Crosstown district as a nexus of important historical eras and events: the city’s founding as a strategic frontier and its trade position on the Mississippi river, through its days as the capital of cotton and hardwoods, a regional warehouse and today’s global distribution hub. At the centre of the district lie two particularly critical sites: Sears Crosstown, a 1.5 million sq ft distribution centre from 1927, and the ‘mound’, a three block earth remnant of the overthrown plan to bisect a beloved city park with Interstate 40.
Responding to an ideas brief set jointly by two clients - 'Crosstown Arts' looking to bring new life to the Sears building and 'Alamos', investigating a strategy for a new photography museum for famed local photographer, William Eggleston, on the mound - the proposal employs a carefully articulated ‘forest overlay’ to heal the barren gap created by overly wide streets and the abandoned highway scheme.
By re-humanising the streets and amplifying the language of mid-century American urban / suburban fabric by saving curb cuts, asphalt and road paint, but planting trees within and around, an archive of the growing movement away from a car culture and back to more human dominated environments is made.
In this new park district, cycling and walking paths share the narrowed streets and connect Crosstown to the city in all directions. The monumental core, with the Mound in its centre is kept treeless, emphasising the great scale of the democratic victory over eminent domain.
The study includes conceptual architectural solutions for both the Sears building and the Eggleston Museum. The Sears micro-city develops an organisational system of new sculptural atria and circulation to accommodate uses as diverse as a high school, a cancer treatment clinic, a hotel and an artists' collective.