- Project Name
- Crosstown Concourse
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- 1,300,000 sq. feet
- Shared by
- Miabelle Salzano
- Project Status
From the May 2019 Issue of ARCHITECT:
A massive Sears warehouse gains new life as a mixed-use hub, organized around light-filled atria.
Sears was once the nation’s largest department store chain, and its decline in recent decades has left the American landscape littered with massive retail and storage structures, some of them outstanding specimens of bygone architectural styles. Such was the case with a 1.5 million-square-foot location in Memphis, Tenn., which was recently transformed by hometown firm Looney Ricks Kiss (LRK)—in association with Canadian firm Dialog—into Crosstown Concourse, a mixed-use complex that brings the long-neglected building up to date while keeping intact its nostalgic Art Deco appeal.
After lying vacant for 20 years, the 1927 structure was initially seen as being of limited interest to prospective tenants, with only one company on tap to take up occupancy after the renovation. Within a year of completion, however, a dazzling array of end users had arrived—among them a health center, a YMCA, a high school, and a theater company, not to mention a residential component comprising 300 units. All of this was made possible through LRK and Dialog’s inventive scheme: Reimagining the building as what they refer to as a “vertical village,” the designers inserted a sequence of three atria that open up the vast interior and break it down into apprehensible parts. The apartments clustered around the westernmost shaft, and the floor-to-floor sight lines across atria on the commercial levels create a sense of continuity and spectacle. In the central atrium, a 10-story-tall central skylight arcs over a grand staircase whose landing functions as a social theater—a communal space visible from all around the concourse.
All of this has been achieved while preserving the spectacular patterned brick-and-stone of the original Sears (as well as an adjoining Googie-ish 1960s garage, which was previously slated for demolition). And more than preserving it—at night, the illuminated interior shines behind the vast grid of industrial windows, turning the hulking complex into a dazzling light box and a beacon for a revitalized Memphis.
Project: Crosstown Concourse, Memphis, Tenn.
Architect: Looney Ricks Kiss, Memphis, in association with Dialog, Toronto . Anthony E. Pellicciotti, AIA, Rebecca Courtney, Frank Ricks, FAIA, Lauren R. B. Tolbert, Meredy Dahlgren, Krissy Buck Flickinger, Lauren M. Ricks, AIA, Alan Boniface, Intl. Assoc. AIA,
Marion LaRue, AIA, Jennifer Cutbill (project team)
Interior Designer: Looney Ricks Kiss in association with Dialog
M/E/P Engineer: OGCB
Structural Engineer: Structural Design Group
Civil Engineer: SR Consulting
Geotechnical Engineer: Professional Services Industries
Construction Manager/General Contractor: Grinder, Taber & Grinder (Construction Manager at Risk)
Landscape Architect: Hood Design Studio
Lighting Designer: Arup
Preliminary Design Consultant: Spatial Affairs Bureau
Sustainable Site/Civil Concepts and Daylight Modeling Consultant: Arup
Mechanical/Smoke Evacuation Consultant: Newcomb & Boyd
Code Consultant: Code Solutions Group
Signage/Branding/Wayfinding: Loaded For Bear
Exterior Envelope Restoration Consultant: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
Surveyor: Pickering Firm Furniture/Fixtures: Carkuff Interior Design
Historic Preservation Tax Credit Consultant/Heritage/Historic Consultant: Looney Ricks Kiss
Residential Architect: Looney Ricks Kiss
Sustainability Consultant: Looney Ricks Kiss
Building Management: Commercial Advisors
Size: 1.3 million square feet
Cost: $135 million (construction cost)
Materials and Sources
Building Management Systems/Services: Trane
Ceilings: Barrisol Stretch Ceiling
Concrete: West Tennessee Ready Mix Concrete
Flooring: The Greer Co. (maple flooring); West Tennessee Ready Mix Concrete; Nucor (re-bar); Daltile; Laticrete; Fiandre USA
Glass: Guardian Glass
Insulation: Owens Corning; Soundproof Cow
Lighting: Lithonia (recessed lighting); Architectural Lighting Works, A light, Artemide, Focal Point Lighting (pendants/chandeliers); Bega (decorative lighting); Bega, A light (exterior)
Masonry and Stone: ACME Brick; Block USA; General Shale; Simpson; Wire-Bond; Blok-Lok
Metal: PAC-CLAD (siding)
Millwork: Hoover Treated Wood Products; Ply-Tech Corp.; Cedar Creek; Kerns Wilcheck; Aljoma
Paints/Finishes: Sherwin Williams; PPG
Plumbing/Water System: Delta Commercial; Zurn
Roofing: GAF; GP; Hanover Pavers
Site and Landscape Products: Dero/Playcore Co. (planters/accessories)
Structural System: Nucor; Vulcraft; Gerdau; ArcelorMittal; American Tube; SSAB; Atlas Tube; Bull Moose Tube; Cargill; CMC; EXLTUBE; Hanna; Independence Tube; Southland Tube; Severstal; NAS; Steel Dynamics
Walls: USG (drywall); Owens Corning; Marino\WARE; JM; Clark Dietrich; Georgia Pacific; Fry Reglet
Windows/Curtainwall/Doors: Quaker Windows; Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope (curtainwall, storefront); Gammans Skylight Systems; Construction Specialties (louvers); Draper
This project won a 2019 AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture
Reviving a retail distribution center that had stood abandoned since the early 1980s, this 1.3 million-square-foot vertical urban village in Memphis has transformed urban blight into a vibrant community. More than just the rebirth of a building, Crosstown Concourse has uplifted an entire neighborhood and given the city a glimpse of its possible future.
Originally envisioned as the home for a small startup company with plans to organically revive the building in the coming decades, the ultimate vision for the mammoth building grew out of a six-month feasibility study that involved hundreds of meetings with neighbors, civic leaders, and institutions, all of which were invited to share their ideas.
Filled to the brim with historical context, and driven by the ideals of social transformation and collective well-being, Crosstown Commons opened in August 2017 and achieved full occupancy in less than one year. The many services it offers include a 400-student charter high school, 20,000-square-foot YMCA fitness center, 450-seat black box theater, free art gallery, radio station, and the nation’s largest private dental clinic. In addition, nearly 300 apartments provide housing for participants in arts, education, and medical residency programs.
The $200 million project revolves around three main atria. The 10-story central atrium easily transitions between its everyday spectacularity to serving as a subtle backdrop for large and small gatherings. A weathering steel theater stair gives way to a concrete stage of sorts, offering a platform for civic events and comfortable seating.
Crafted as a vertical column of light punctuated by a fluorescent red stair, the east atrium echoes the eight-story package chutes that were vital to the building during its retail heyday. To the west, residential floors feature a patterned solid and void atrium wall composition that demonstrates the private nature of the space. The transparent commercial floors below emphasize openness and collaboration.
Applications by the architects for historic tax credits helped salvage an adjacent parking garage from demolition. Built in 1965, the garage’s diamond and rectilinear façade panels testify to the mid-century modern design aesthetic and allow the structure to serve as the site’s lantern after dark.
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Once a vital distribution center for the Mid-South, the 1,300,000-square-foot historic Sears building (1927) has been dormant for over 20 years. A herculean revitalization effort is now moving forward thanks to an extraordinary collaboration of local institutions. LRK is working with a non-profit arts-based organization and its partners to redevelop the 10–story building into a “vertical urban village” that integrates residential, commercial, retail, health and wellness, arts and culture, and education. The design weaves a purposeful collection of diverse tenants and varied uses into a precedent-setting mixed-use community that will serve as an anchor and catalyst for further revitalization and economic development in the surrounding neighborhood.