Thursday, October 22, 2009

Buildings to Cherish: the Memphis Police Station at Second and Adams

I've driven past the old Memphis Police Station a thousand times, but walks past it this fall have really opened my eyes to its beauty and power. It's a special Memphis building, a beautiful Beaux Arts corner companion to the 100 year old Shelby County Courthouse.

Memphis Police Headquarters Retired

Unlike the Courthouse, it's empty. And since Memphis has preferred bland empty void over beautiful empty space for 50 years, we have to be vigilant.

A good use would be as hotel since the building abuts the Civic Plaza. Guests could move to and from the convention center through the Plaza, giving that public space much needed life.

A visualization of the hotel/plaza connection.

I also think, no matter the use, its front steps and wall-defined lawn could be a special mini-public space of their own.

Memphis Police Headquarters Retired

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wall Cities

I saw a bunch of framed prints depicting scenes of nostalgic urbanism for sale at a strip mall thrift store last week.

A European village,

a European city,

and a New England village.

I only saw one print depicting suburbanism. It was an architectural visualization* for a suburban motel. Probably a Hampton Inn.

I imagine that visualization hung on the office wall of the motel's architect, developer or owner until they couldn't look at it anymore, while the former images hung on a living room wall of a home, perhaps not far from the strip mall.

You probably won't see the motel image on a living room wall in a house close to the motel. And you probably wouldn't see brick and mortar urban village neighborhoods on the streets close to the homes where their images hung.

We all might crave beauty in our built and natural environment, but flattened wall hangings appear to be one way (along with nostalgia, knicknacks, theme parks, vacations and migration) we can ignore its absence on our streets.

*idealized. The mature if boring trees in front probably wouldn't have made it through construction. The robust stand of trees in back would already have been whacked for a parking lot or speculative clearcut for more highway commercial use. And despite a hefty parking lot, there are no cars in front of the motel.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Innovation Should Become Deloach

Side Street in Memphis

Why does the incredibly wide Deloach Street, just across Central from the University of Memphis, prohibit parking on its east side? The neighborhood has a huge need for parking, historically satisfied with destructive surface parking lots, yet the east side of the street is roped off.


  • public safety. Yet the street is incredibly wide and would almost certainly allow 2 cars to pass each other simultaneously. Public safety vehicles would have plenty of room to get in and out -- if they even used that path.

  • to avoid competition with the parking fees of nearby institutions -- the University and the University Holiday Inn.

  • use as an arterial road. It does have traffic lights on its Central end, where Innovation Drive empties out of the University. But there are no lights where it terminates at Poplar so it seems of limited use for that.

  • the residents don't want the parking. But the east side is the increasingly institutional and decreasingly residential, side with the Holiday Inn taking up a good half of the block. The west side is still completely residential and allows parking.
Here's a chance to freely add ~50 parking spaces to the area without building an expensive parking garage, or ripping up more of the University District's neighborhood. An urbanism approved solution that would only require a few revolutions of a screwdriver.

Also, people walking down the east side of the street would be an opportunity for the Holiday Inn -- the lone commercial presence in the neighborhood -- if the hotel had fronted their part of the street with a hotel rather than a storm water mud grass pit.

University of Memphis Holiday Inn

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