Monday, August 18, 2008

Climbing the C&I Bank Building

Trolley Stop Mosaic in the space between the C&I Bank Building and Autozone ParkArchitects and architecture lovers presented lots of great ideas at last week's meeting to save the C&I Bank Building (an example), and a few that Memphis Heritage and friends have begun work on.

While the best idea will be the idea that saves the building from the worst idea, which is the Regional Chamber's plan to sell the building for kindling, until then I declare my idea the best and hope those with an interest will consider making it the best in fact.

Make it the home of The Junkyard Memphis.


It fits the Mission of Junkyard:
The primary purpose of The JunkYard is to engage the efforts of local artists and art students in the construction of their own museum. Once open, the exhibits will feature large climbable structures that can be enjoyed by everyone of all ages. This tactile nature of the new museum will be a useful learning tool for kids of all ages, as well as a method for creating an emotional link with adults and their city.
The C&I has a large 4 story glass atrium, with balconies open to it, that seems perfect for the climbable structures that Junkyard Memphis wants.

(While it's not mentioned on the Junkyard website, I've always heard that the City Museum of St. Louis is a model. A few photos from that museum can help you envision the types of climbing structures possible.)

The stupendous views from that atrium out at downtown Memphis are a huge part of that emotional link to their city.

Since the C&I Bank Building has already been gutted, its interior is a tabula rasa for the imaginations of the artists and art students.


it's a wonderful piece of architecture-as-advertisement, an iconic Fun House beckoning over the right field wall of Autozone Park for the multitudes of kids and adults who go to Redbirds games every year.

Autozone Park

And because of the glass atrium, the favor is returned to the Redbirds.

If they exploit this spatial and visual connection, each could help the other be much more than they are by themself.

Along the same lines, it's would form the 3rd vertex in the fun and education triangle of Downtown Elementary and Autozone Park. See:

It could be a tangible, visible, climbable lesson in recycling and creativity.

C&I Bank Building

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Blogger jccvi said...

Best. Idea. Ever.

12:49 PM  
Blogger jccvi said...

This makes my idea for a branch library to replace the Cossitt seem kind of weak. That said, the City Museum in St. Louis is on a much bigger scale than this. Then again, the City Museum started with deep pockets.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Stacey Greenberg said...


3:50 PM  
Blogger Naomi Van Tol said...

Ye gods and leetle feeshes. This may even be a better idea than sliced bread. Because I can always slice my own bread, if it comes to that.

5:47 PM  
Blogger jfite said...

Yes! Have you ever visited City Museum in St. Louis? My family fell in love with the place on our first visit in 1999, and have returned to St. Louis 3 times since with City Museum as our main destination. It's a very inspiring place. Great fun for all ages. While jccvi is right that it's on a much bigger scale than this building, you gotta start somewhere! A fantastic idea.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once you purchase the building you can put your plans, or any of the others suggested here, into action as you see fit. Good luck with your contract negotiations.

1:40 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

thank you everyone for your comments, including Anonymous bitter person.

I have friends who rave about the City Museum but I haven't been there myself (it's been awhile since I've been in St. Louis in fact) so I can't judge the size. However, as this map shows, space is not a problem in downtown Memphis. Speculators, yes, space, no.

Plus there's a large empty building just across the street.

I haven't heard much about Junkyard Memphis lately, but I get a sense that they are very much active, quietly.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Wow, that would be perfect... What a great idea!

10:05 AM  

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