Monday, April 21, 2008

Unbuilt Projects: Memphis without Echo Chambers

Frances Gassner's C&I Bank Building, MemphisFor its recent Architecture Design Awards, the Memphis AIA used a panel of Toronto architects as judges. As the Commercial Appeal reported, it did it "to better ensure an unbiased selection of winners."

Openness to non-local ideas and criticism is important everywhere, and in all endeavors. Openness is particularly important for Memphis, where dysfunctional idea networks (aka, echo chambers, daisy chains, dreamcatchers, kereitsu) have often given local currency to universally bad ideas.

A bad idea like, say, the Regional Chamber's plans to replace the C&I Bank Building with a surface parking lot.

While all six designs stood out among the others, the Adaptive Re-Use of C & I Bank Building at 200 Madison caught the eye of the jurors right away. The redesign by Archimania received an Award of Merit.

Much controversy has surrounded the building known for its sloped glass roof and large atrium foyer in recent months. Bought by the Memphis Regional Chamber, the building was later deemed financially unfeasible for the chamber to move into, and discussions of replacing the building with a parking lot have buzzed through the city.

"Our primary interest was in the purpose of the design to find an appropriate way to rehabilitate the building," said Barry Sampson, principal of Baird Sampson Neuert Architects and assistant dean of facilities and design at the University of Toronto. "We felt it should remain in the city, and we would like to see ongoing efforts to retain this building."

Toronto architects shouldn't have to tell Memphis to save it, but thankfully they did.

Woodard House

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Blogger nathanwberry said...

i've been wondering about the state of this place...
hmm, this would make a great chik-fil a!
just kidding. very bad joke.

7:37 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

actually, since it was a bank, it already has a drive-thru and drive-thru window, between it and the Sterick Building. It might.

8:08 PM  

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