Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Legend(s) of the Pyramid

The Pyramid, Memphis, seen from North ParkwayI think the Pyramid's best days are to come.

As much as we'd like to think of it as a financial problem, a governmental mistake, it's part of Memphis' visual subconscious. And it deserves a legend. The Pyramid is half-finished. It's half-finished because ... we ran out of money. We ran out of money because...well, we didn't have enough money. That's all the legend I got for now, although I'll take suggestions. But henceforth, I'll refer to it as the half-finished Pyramid.

We have 2 choices with the half-finished Pyramid.
  1. Intentionally let it fall into ruin. Like all good ruins, maintain it enough to keep it from collapsing, but that's all. Let vines and other vegetation grow up its sides. Let Memphis-style decay wash away the original banal veneer. Perhaps some earthquake-induced liquefaction will give it a perverse and mysterious angle. The haunted half-finished Pyramid will be striking.
  2. Finish it. Find an architect with taste and vision to complete it. Anything can be inside it -- Bass Pro Shop, movie production facilities, Stalin and Marcos' Tomb of Doom, Jolly Royal Furniture -- but the outside is ours. See the angles that people view it from -- from the bridges, off the River, Tom Lee Park, the Peabody, the Madison Hotel, down North Parkway -- and finish the exterior in a grand and iconic manner.
The problem with 1, although cheap, is that a guy with a bulldozer will show up and start talking about how it would be cheaper to just tear it down. They'd blame asbestos, or getting it up to code, or insurance, or the costs of wasting a good bulldozer.

The problem with 2, is that it will take money, which is of course what we ran out of because...[insert legend here].

16 years ago, we didn't need a place for the University of Memphis to play basketball, we didn't need a place for concerts. 16 years ago, we wanted an icon. We have that icon. Let's embrace it and make it more ... iconic.


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