Herzog & de Meuron beat out 22 design studios, including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Johnston Marklee, and OMA, for the chance to design a new building for the Brooks Museum of Art—Tennessee’s oldest and largest art museum—in downtown Memphis. The Swiss firm will work alongside local powerhouse archimania to bring the cultural institution into the 21st century with a new, $105 million facility. Slated to rise on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, the upgraded Brooks Museum will be part of an ongoing six-mile development aiming to activate the riverfront with parks, walking paths, as well as civic and recreational structures. Studio Gang is at the helm of reimagining the 30-acre industrial site and the museum will serve as its anchor. According to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, the chosen site will be a major economic stimulus for the city and signals its embrace of the Mississippi River as its greatest local asset. Herzog & de Meuron's plan for the Brooks Museum, which is expected to be unveiled early next year, will be 112,000-square-foot in size—a quarter larger than the existing facility in Overton Park—and will feature double the amount of storage and art handling space. It will also include expanded public galleries with room for its prestigious permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. Classrooms, a theater, a dining area, and a museum store will also be integrated into the design, along with an outdoor sculpture park that’s set to feature rotating public art. In a statement, Executive Director Emily Ballew Neff said the reenvisioned Brooks Museum aims to become a new landmark for the city and she believes the architects will create a “fitting formal response” to the riverfront site and approach the project with “unrivaled sensitivity to materials and craftsmanship.” “Herzog & de Meuron is exceptional among the architectural firms that design art museums for the way it creates galleries for a whole range of art,” she said. “Several architects (at the firm) also happen to have spent formative years in and around Memphis. These team members will provide a kind of local knowledge that will surely contribute.” A strong understanding of this unique western Tennessee landscape will be key in designing the Brooks Museum’s new identity. The building will be constructed on the corner of Front Street and Monroe Street, one block from Memphis’s Main Street to the east and one block from the river to the west. Members of the mound-building Mississippi Culture and, later, the Chickasaw Nation used to occupy the bluff before the Europeans settled the area. In the 19th century, this area served as the city’s old Cotton Row. Today the area is emerging with the rest of downtown Memphis as a major educational, cultural, and business district in which the Brooks Museum is expected to not only spur new development in the urban core, but also attract visitors from all of Tennessee, Northeast Arkansas, and Northern Mississippi.
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The new home for Ballet Memphis, designed by archimania, reveals itself in layers. It is an upgrade from their previous facility which the company had outgrown and was located outside of an urban context. The new Ballet Memphis building is designed to engage the public through movement, culture, and connection to the community. It houses rehearsal space for the professional dance company, a dance school for over 200 children, and community dance and pilates classes. The largest rehearsal studio also doubles as a performance venue.
The facade consists of a corrugated copper screen fronting the sidewalk and a series of courtyards, a glass curtain wall at ground level, and a weathered zinc rainscreen above. From the beginning, the project team at archimania wanted the building to extend the historic street promenade but current setback codes required the building to sit further from the sidewalk. The copper screen brings the building's presence to the sidewalk and ties back into the rest of the structure. The corrugated copper screen wraps around the entirety of the building. The portions of the facade facing the street are perforated to allow visibility and light into the building while also acting as a brise soleil and shading the building from direct solar radiation. Facing the parking lot at the back of the building, the copper consists of solid panels with punched windows. Although the copper screen is mostly freestanding, it is tied back to the primary structure through a robust steel frame. Structural members had to be larger than usual due to the building’s location in a seismic zone. However, the design of the screen reduces the visual profile of the structure through flush detailing and a copper trim that surrounds every edge. One of the challenges the architects faced with the screen was its length. When detailing an uninterrupted four-hundred-foot wall, they wanted to break up the scale so that it wouldn’t overpower the street. The design of the screen responds to the meandering path of pedestrians through specific cuts into the elevation. These apertures create unique urban spaces that exist between the ballet’s street presence and the primary mass of the building. A glass curtain wall clads the majority of the building’s ground level at a height of either twelve feet or twenty feet dependent on the size of the studio behind it. This creates a visual connection between pedestrians passing the ballet and allows for views of the performances and practice happening within the studios. The facade transitions to an opaque weathered zinc panel as the building rises in height. For the largest ballet studio, there is a layer of perforated zinc over the top half of the curtain wall that controls the amount of daylight permeating the space. Additionally, on the interior of the curtain wall, archimania included an operable shading system for another layer of both daylight and privacy control. At the moment where the zinc facade meets the sky, Ballet Memphis wanted a unique formal move to signify its presence. The largest studio space rises up to five stories and creates a swooping parapet inspired by the movement of dancers. This allowed the building to have a signature cap and redefined the scale of the largest studio as it rises on each corner.
Welcome to AN Interior's inaugural top 50 interior architect and designer list, featuring emerging and established firms across the U.S. While these architects' and designers' talents certainly go beyond interior work, they are deftly pushing the boundaries of residential, retail, workplace, and hospitality spaces and cleverly reimagining the spaces we inhabit. Ensamble Studio Boston, Madrid With a distinct focus on the process of making, Ensamble Studio leverages material technologies to produce dramatic spaces and forms. 64North Los Angeles Multidisciplinary studio 64North provides branding, interiors, website, and product design services. Architecture is Fun Chicago
As the name implies, Architecture Is Fun produces playful designs, frequently working with children’s museums; it won AIA Chicago’s 2017 Firm of the Year award. UrbanLab Chicago, Los Angeles
UrbanLab’s highly graphic design sensibility brings together smart solutions and visual identity in projects ranging from small storefronts to urban infrastructures. Design, Bitches Chicago, Los Angeles
The irreverent work of Design, Bitches employs layers of color, light, and material to build engaging interior spaces across Southern California. LADG Los Angeles
LADG produces uncanny forms and clever spaces by leveraging common construction materials.
Toshiko Mori Architect New York
Tacklebox’s interiors are filled with “ordinary” materials deployed in unexpected ways, recontextualizing the quotidian.
Michael K Chen Architecture New York
MKCA’s puzzle-like built-ins make the most of tiny living spaces. NADAAA New York, Boston
NADAAA’s work engages with high-tech material investigations and form finding. LOT New York, Athens
The influence of LOT’s Greek office is clear in its mellow, refined interiors and the firm’s furniture line, Objects of Common Interest. MOS Architects New York
The highly intellectual work of MOS plays on contemporary and historical architectural philosophies. Norman Kelley Chicago, New York
A self-described superficial practice, Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley explore the concepts of play, illusion, and flatness, all within an often tongue-in-cheek understanding of historical precedent. Snarkitecture New York
Part think tank and part design firm, every INABA Williams project is rooted in an in-depth research process.
Elliott + Associates Architects Oklahoma City
Rand Elliott has been focusing the country’s attention on Oklahoman design for the past 40 years. SPAN Architecture New York
SPAN creates high-finish spaces full of carefully chosen materials and details. Home Studios New York
Home Studios produces polished, finely detailed commercial and hospitality interiors filled with fine wood, stone, and metal detailing. Architecture in Formation New York
AiF brings together eclectic styles for a wide range of projects, from large hospitality to urban lofts.
Only If— New York
Only If— fuses smart geometries with clever materials for striking interiors.
Ezequiel Farca + Cristina Grappin Los Angeles, Mexico City, Milan
Ezequiel Farca and Cristina Grappin draw from their collaborations with Mexican artisans and use local materials to create contextual works for high-end clients. Bureau Spectacular Los Angeles
The comic book sensibility of Bureau Spectacular delves beyond the superficial with spaces that encourage the occupants to live a less ordinary life. Barbara Bestor Los Angeles
Between her many residential and commercial projects across L.A. and her book, Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake, Barbara Bestor is an influential force on Southern Californian design.
Johnsen Schmaling Architects Milwaukee
Johnsen Schmaling translates the beauty of the rural upper Midwest into site-specific residential projects.
Morris Adjmi Architects New York
Carefully proportioned spaces and forms—and a sensitivity to history— define Morris Adjmi’s elegant work.
Neil M. Denari Architects Los Angeles
Teaching at UCLA in addition to running his practice, Neil Denari is a perennial thought leader in the space where technology and architectural form meet. WORKac New York
With clever twists on typical programs, WORKac’s interiors are unexpected and playful. archimania Memphis
The progressive Memphis-based firm is taking a leading role in redefining what architecture can be in the Southeast through its numerous projects and help in redeveloping its city’s waterfront.
Shulman + Associates Miami
Shulman + Associates draw on the history, materials, and culture of South Florida to formulate vibrant, innovative commercial and residential interiors. Clive Wilkinson Architects Los Angeles
Focusing on workplace and educational facilities, Clive Wilkinson has helped define the aesthetics of contemporary creative professional and learning spaces.
The workspaces designed by Studio O+A express its clients’ stories and personalities, pushing the envelope of the modern office.
New Affiliates New York
New Affiliates works in “loose forms and rough materials” to create elegant spaces.
Biber Architects New York
James Biber approaches every project with a fresh vision, letting design and function guide the form.
Olson Kundig SeattleOFFICIAL Dallas
With a dedicated interiors studio, Olson Kundig has redefined the Pacific Northwest architectural typology.
OFFICIAL designs bright interiors with pops of color and custom furnishings. The two-person studio also has its own furniture line.
Aidlin Darling Design San Francisco
Materials are at the forefront of and celebrated in each project by Aidlin Darling Design. Leong Leong New York
Brothers Christopher and Dominic Leong use broad, decisive formal moves to organize space into crisp, refined interiors. Alexander Gorlin Architects New York
For the past two decades, even when minimalism reigned, Alexander Gorlin has been layering colors and patterns with great success. Craig Steely Architecture San Francisco
Craig Steely celebrates the tropical locales of his projects with interiors that reflect and embrace the native flora.
Aranda\Lasch New York, Tuscon
Truly experimental, Aranda\Lasch explores pattern and fabrications as easily as space and form.
Andre Kikoski Architect New York
Known for creating everything from architectural interiors to furniture and finishes, Andre Kikoski consistently delivers refined designs. SO-IL New York
Airy and ethereal, yet highly programmatic, the formal and material exercises by SO-IL are unmistakable. Peter Marino Architect New York
Leather-clad Peter Marino is the go-to for sumptuous interiors in high-end retail and hospitality around the world. Slade Architecture New York
Slade’s lighthearted approach brings together form, color, pattern, and material. Charlap Hyman & Herrero Los Angeles, New York
Bold interior forms with a refined material palette typify the work of RISD graduates Andre Herrero and Adam Charlap Hyman.
BarlisWedlick Architects New York
BarlisWedlick produces super-efficient, passive projects without neglecting aesthetics. Schiller Projects New York
Schiller Projects works through analytic research to design everything from architecture to branding.
Like so many cities, Memphis, Tennessee, is imagining the future of one of its largest natural assets, its waterfront. The Home of the Blues marks the approximate midpoint of the Mississippi River, and until recently, it has mainly utilized it for industrial purposes, like many other American waterfront cities. While the river has been home to casino riverboats, and a riverfront park does exist, plans are now underway to turn the area into a full-fledged cultural destination. Memphis-based archimania, in collaboration with Peter Chermayeff and BWS&C have put forward a plan called the Mud Island River Park + Cultural Center, which aims to bring the public closer to the water and provide educational opportunities. The scheme calls for cultural facilities linked by a pedestrian path that would also connect Mud Island (a peninsula edging the city and the river) and the city’s riverfront to the adjacent redeveloped Fourth Bluff Civic Commons. The centerpiece of the project is the Aquarium Museum, a complex on Mud Island that will show off aquatic species and focus on the city’s long history with the river as well as contemporary water studies. On the other side of the river, the complex will likely include a reimagined Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The Brooks is currently located outside of the downtown area. The past few years have seen a number of proposals for Memphis’s downtown and waterfront, with an eye on the city’s bicentennial in 2019. Just northeast of the proposed Mud Island project, a building and development moratorium for the downtown Pinch District is being reassessed through a planning and architecture study led by the Division of Housing and Community Development and the Memphis office of Looney Ricks Kiss. Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects have also produced a Riverfront study for the city, which was released in mid-2017. The Mud Island proposal was informed by the Studio Gang research, which called for any projects along the river to foster, restore, and connect the city, the river, and the larger ecology of the area. Considering the numerous proposals, it is likely that we will see multiple developments and amenities coming to Memphis’s extensive riverfront in the coming years. To get the wheel turning, fundraising is set to begin for the Mud Island River Park + Cultural Center in 2018, with construction starting within the next four years.
2017 Best of Design Awards for Workplace – Interior: Memphis Teacher Residency Architect: archimania Location: Memphis, Tennessee A faith-based nonprofit organization required a space for recruitment, training, and supporting teachers through an urban teacher residency graduate program. Their new space is positioned between a large public central atrium and a more intimate atrium: a recently renovated distribution center. The space is made up of three functions: offices, larger training rooms, and community areas. Wooden space-defining elements were used within the community spaces to encourage gathering. These components act as connective tissue between programmatic zones. At the entry, a sign and a seating detail offer areas for conversation and define the entrance. The client’s distinct use of book icons to express a source of knowledge was also translated into an architectural language and spatial detailing that color and meter the space. "I love the project's light touch—it celebrates the industrial character of the existing building without being too self-conscious." —Eric Bunge, principal, nARCHITECTS (juror) General contractor: Grinder, Taber & Grinder Engineering: OGCB Honorable Mention Project Name: RDC-S111 Urban Office Designer: Retail Design Collaborative Location: Long Beach, California A vacant department store became a 34,100-square-foot creative workplace based on the concept of an “urban gallery.” Twenty skylights offer natural daylight and ventilation while reducing artificial lighting needs. A mezzanine wraps the perimeter of the interior space, creating a “bridgewalk” overlook, while a portion of the service dock is transformed into an urban garden.