Reasons why the Regional Chamber's plan to destroy Francis Gassner's C&I Bank Building stinks:
- They're going to tear down the building, a very distinctive building.
- They're going to replace it with a surface parking lot. Not with another building, not with a parking garage, but with a surface parking lot!
Maybe there are no nearby surface parking lots.
- The architect of the building is the late Francis Gassner, the namesake architect of the Memphis AIA's premier award. The award "honors architects and others from associated businesses for their contributions to the quality of the built environment in Memphis."
- The surface parking lot will be diagonally across Madison from the AIA's headquarters.
- The Chamber's pitch, by Nick Clark, chair of the Chamber's facilities committee:
"It would be a vacant piece of land that wouldn't be a detriment to Downtown as well as provide an asset in terms of providing parking for AutoZone Park and surrounding buildings, including First Tennessee," Clark said.(emphasis mine)
"The challenge we face is if we make a choice to preserve this building how does it impact our ability to preserve surrounding buildings?"Does that mean that the Chamber will make it a mission of theirs to preserve the Sterick Building? If so, then I retract
everything most everythingsome of what I write here. But is that what it means? Or is the statement using the Sterick Building as an architectural shield to get something they want?
- This approval (or apology) by one of Memphis' architects and leaders:
Frank Ricks, founding member of Looney Ricks Kiss architects, said he understands both sides of the issue.What happened was not a surface parking lot. If the Chamber has an architectural peer of AutoZone Park envisioned, they should/would lead with that, not "a vacant piece of land that wouldn't be a detriment".
"In one sense I'd hate to see it torn down, but for years I've thought that piece was probably an important component to the redevelopment to that section of Madison Avenue," Ricks said.
Ricks faced a similar issue with the development of AutoZone Park and the surrounding neighborhood, which required the destruction of historic stables.
"You hate to see any building that was significant torn down but in order to get the ballpark built we had to take down the old stables on Monroe," he said. "And look what happened because of it."
A spaceless insult to the AIA's award and their vision.