Memphis Regional Design Center Oct 2011 Newsletter

Memphis Regional Design Center


October 2011 Newsletter  

MRDC logo web3




The MRDC is a community organization very dependent on input from all concerned design-enthusiastic neighbors in the region. Please write back with suggestions on what you like and what you want to read in our newsletters.
I urge you to forward this to your friends and coworkers that may be interested by clicking on the link below, encourage them to subscribe to this newsletter for free, and support the Memphis Regional Design Center.


Forward to a Friend




In This Issue

NEW: South Main Demonstration Project

NEW: Complete Streets Workshop

UPDATE: Shelby Trails

UPDATE: French Fort Design Charrette

UPDATE: Park(ing) Day

Regional News:

Livable Memphis hosts Direction 2040 Planning Meeting


Upcoming Events




NEW: South Main Demonstration Project 

South Main looking north 

The Memphis Regional Design Center (MRDC) is excited to be a community partner in the South Main Demonstration Project.  This project seeks to raise awareness about the culturally important buildings in the South Main district which are fragile and need to be maintained and retrofitted so that they may last for years to come.


Dmitry Ozeryansky of Ozeryansky Engineering, a sustainable structural design firm, is developing the project in which he sees the vision as being to educate the building industry, government, and the public about the most current methods and technologies for conservation of aging brick buildings.  With the age of the buildings on South Main comes the unfortunate lack of lateral bracing which, in the event of an earthquake or other environmental catastrophe, could mean multiple building collapses.  Ozeryansky believes that many of the buildings which are currently collapse hazards can be retrofitted for a reasonable cost.  At present, when a building undergoes major renovations in the Mid-South, the provisions of the building code that mandates seismic upgrades are not enforced.  The lasting mission of the project is to generate momentum in developing a seismic retrofit ordinance for Memphis.


The plan involves organizing an initiative to fund a seismic retrofit demonstration project of one of the unreinforced brick buildings along South Main.  Before and after the construction the building will be open to the public and will feature educational displays to showcase the improvements and educate the public and building community about the feasibility of seismic retrofit for this building type.  The demonstration building will then be part of the National Earthquake Conference which will be held in Memphis in April 2012.


The MRDC has joined the community partner list for this project along with:  Central US Earthquake Consortium, Downtown Memphis Commission, Woodard Properties, Rural Heritage Development Initiative, US Green Building Council Memphis Regional Chapter, the University of Memphis, the Department of Architecture, and Structural Engineers Association of Tennessee West Region.   



NEW: Complete Streets Workshop 

City of Charlotte DOT

Source: City of Charlotte DOT 

The way we get around our city is an important part of the livability of Memphis.  It is no surprise, then, that Livable Memphis, the Urban Land Institute Memphis, and the Memphis Regional Design Center are pursuing the creation of a Complete Streets Policy for Memphis.  This policy will improve connectivity, promote higher densities and support the mobility needs of all Memphians.     

The goal is to fund a workshop led by National Complete-Streets experts to produce a Complete-Streets policy for Memphis comparable to almost 250 municipalities and 23 states nationwide. The Urban Land Institute Community Action Grant program, the Memphis Regional Design Center and the Shelby County Health Department have already signed up as sponsors for this event.     


This policy will have strong implications for the City of Memphis and its surrounding neighborhoods. Complete Streets are safe, comfortable and convenient for everyone– providing access to motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation riders-regardless of age or ability. Complete streets improve both the quality of life and property values in a community, while expanding economic development opportunities and improving safety. Plus, it will bring Memphis into compliance with the 2000 FHWA guidance that “Bicycling and walking facilities will be incorporated into all transportation projects unless exceptional circumstances exist.”


At present, the Memphis Complete Streets Coalition intends to focus on developing a policy for the City of Memphis primarily because approval and subsequent implementation of the policy can be more easily advocated for at the City level; however, policy workshop opportunities will be open to Shelby County representatives and representatives of other municipalities. A well-crafted Complete Streets policy for the City can be easily modified to be appropriate for any municipality in the Mid-South region should other entities choose to pursue Complete Streets for their respective communities.


The coalition will offer a Complete Streets workshop (produced and facilitated by the National Complete Streets Coalition) this fall. The policy development project will employ community outreach, coalition building, educational programming and technical assistance to formulate a locally unique and implementable Complete Streets policy. Once a policy is developed, attention will turn toward City Council adoption of the policy in early 2012.


The complete streets policy would be designed to increase capacity, improve safety, lower emissions, improve health, stimulate the economy, and provide travel choices, and institute smarter and more sustainable growth in the City of Memphis, with possible applications for surrounding municipalities and Shelby County as a whole.


More about complete streets can be found at the National Complete Streets Coalition website.





UPDATE: Shelby Trails

Mississippi River Trails 

After several meetings with influential stakeholders and interested citizens, the Memphis Regional Design Center (MRDC) set out mapping alternatives, spurs and a southern extension of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) through Shelby County.


Plans are underway to meet with Mississippi officials to ensure the proposed southern extension, which will continue south of I-55 in the French Fort neighborhood and connect Riverside Park to T.O. Fuller Park, will align with Desoto County routes forming a cohesive network of routes.


The next steps in this great project include a two-day excursion along the MRT where members of the planning team will map road conditions, survey views, and review accessibility and signage issues as well as additional public input sessions aimed at fostering community involvement in developing vibrant spurs with business and service oriented amenities. 


UPDATE: French Fort Design Charrette

Marine Hospital in French Fort Neighborhood 

With the proposed TDOT roundabout and I-55 fly-over on the horizon, developers are already beginning to make plans for the commercially zoned properties and vacant parcels in the French Fort neighborhood.  Not only will TDOT’s plans have a major impact on this community, the future Harrahan Bridge Project will bring hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors within range of the only commercially zoned property in walking distance of the bridge project.  To ensure excellence in urban design and planning, ULI Memphis conducted a workshop and MRDC held a charrette in order to help developer Lauren Crews assemble a cohesive master plan of the neighborhood.  Designers, planners, members of the Sierra Club, among others convened to provide input and develop sketches of the desired amenities, services and park spaces needed in the community as well as to establish proper street standards and building setbacks required to create a walkable community. 


UPDATE: Park(ing) Day

Teeter Tire by brg3s –>The Memphis Regional Design Center, along with Downtown Memphis Commission (previously Center City Commission), Memphis College of Art and the City of Memphis, hosted Park(ing) Day, an event in Downtown Memphis on Friday, September 16th, 2011.


Park(ing) Day is an “annual open-source global event”, where a community transforms metered parking spaces into park spaces temporarily, to highlight the need for more quality green spaces in urban areas. The idea was first started in 2005 by Rebar Design Group in San Francisco. Last year, 183 cities across 30 countries created 850 mini-parks out of parking spaces.


Nineteen parking spaces along Peabody Place were designated as Park(ing) Day lots and of the nineteen spaces, seventeen teams came together to design innovative parks for public enjoyment.  Participants included:  UrbanArch, Mississippi River Corridor – Tennessee, Downtown Memphis Commission, Habitat for Hope, MATA, Memphis Regional Design Center, Dawn Vinson, Shelby Farms, Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects, Crosstown Arts, Riverfront Development Corporation, brg3s, Women’s Roller Derby, YMCA, Memphis Grizzlies, Livable Memphis, and Odessa.  Photos of each entry can be found on our facebook page and at Park(ing) Day Memphis 2011.







Livable Memphis hosts Direction 2040 Planning Meeting

LRTP Meeting 092211

source: Memphis Urban Area MPO


Livable Memphis, as part of their Pizza with Planners series, hosted the Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Direction 2040 Long-Range Transportation Plan public input meeting. MPO’s goal in developing Direction 2040 is to create a transportation plan that works for residents of Shelby and Fayette Counties in Tennessee and Desoto County in Mississippi. The plan will guide the decision making process for the selection and implementation of the transportation projects in the MPO Planning Area to the year 2040. As part of this effort, public input is needed on existing and future transportation needs of the community.


During the meeting, representatives from Kimley-Horn and Associates – the project managers responsible for working with the MPO on producing the updated plan – gave an overview of how the plan is being developed. Initial items that guide the plan include: how funds are applied, public input, federal requirements of the plan, and requirements of the plan itself such as multi-modal capacity, land uses, etc. Specific elements further refine the plan and include but are not limited to: existing and future conditions, social and environmental impacts, land use, multi-modal capacity, funding, airport concerns, and further public input. Each element is thought about from several themed perspectives including safety, congestion, access, mobility, economic vitality, level of service, fiscal constraints and implementation, and air quality.


Attendees included representatives from Kimley-Horn and Associates as well as members of the MPO, Sierra Club, Memphis Regional Design Center, students from Rhodes College, real estate professionals and concerned citizens among others. At the end of the presentation, attendees were invited to make comments and suggestions on large-scale maps about transportation issues in the Memphis regional area which would then be analyzed by the team at Kimley-Horn and Associates.


The MPO will begin reviewing the plan in the beginning of November with agency reviews (TDOT, MDOT and IAC) beginning in mid-November and final approval of the plan scheduled for March 2012. For more information and to participate in the online survey visit the Direction 2040 website






MRDC to Host 7th Semester of Urban Design 101


The MRDC is hosting its 7th semester of Urban Design 101

this fall starting October 6th. UD 101 will examine the transformative impact that innovative physical planning and design of the “public realm” are having upon the quality and success of urban life.  The course will introduce a cross section of our region’s civic leaders – representing a mix of public, private and non-profit organizations – to the basic concepts, vocabulary, and techniques of urban design as reflected in a variety of contemporary place-making initiatives in Memphis and across the country.

Urban Design 101 has been created to introduce local leaders to emerging design concepts that are guiding our nation’s most exciting neighborhood stabilization, downtown development, waterfront revitalization, new town planning, public spaces, historic revitalization, and mass transit projects.

Course Structure

Classes will feature multi-media presentations by local and national faculty, class discussions and small group exercises.  Participants will be encouraged to connect the urban design theories, concepts, and techniques being explored in class to current design challenges and opportunities confronting our local region’s communities.   

Time & Location

Ten consecutive Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30pm, October 6th through December 15th. (one week off for Thanksgiving)  Classes will be held at the University Center on the University of Memphis campus.   


Enrollment costs $200.  Tuition for Urban Design 101 helps underwrite the course.  A modest number of scholarships for those with limited incomes may become available.


Please contact Chooch Pickard at for more information about the class.


A syllabus for the class with full course descriptions can be downloaded here







Wed, Oct 12th, 6pm

Overton Square Public Meeting, Memphis, TN

Playhouse on the Square, 66 S. Cooper

Fri, Oct 14th, 5-10pm
6th Annual Broad Avenue Art Walk, Memphis, TN
Broad Avenue.  For more information, visit their website.


Sat, Oct 22nd, 6:30pm

Memphis Heritage 2011 Architectural Auction,Memphis, TN

Sears Crosstown. For more information, visit their website or call 901.272.2727.



The Memphis Regional Design Center (MRDC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization formed with a mission to increase vitality and economic stability by promoting excellence in urban design and planning. More information about the MRDC is available for you to view at


I hope you enjoyed the newsletter and look forward to your continued interest and support.


Chooch Signature

Charles “Chooch” Pickard, AIA 

Executive Director/ Chief Design Officer

Memphis Regional Design Center



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s