Lost Memphis 37: French Quarter Inn

In late 2017, Ballet Memphis moved to the northeast corner of Madison and Cooper, adjacent to Overton Square. Since 1986, the site had been home to the French Quarter Inn, the zoning of which was covered on this earlier post. Today we will look at the demolition of the old French Quarter and the planning and construction of the new headquarters for Ballet Memphis.


The French Quarter buttressed the east end of Overton Square, seen here in the foreground.
The demolition of the hotel commenced shortly after the plans for Ballet Memphis were approved (see below). This image reflects not only the size of the atrium of the Inn, but also its commitment to the design of the French Quarter; note wrought iron railings on each floor. By the time the building was demolished, it appears each floor was painted its own individual pastel color.
From an urban design perspective, the most unfortunate part of the French Quarter Inn was its positioning on its lot; it was dislocated from Madison Ave. by not only a parking lot but by a substantial brick wall. The wall was the last thing razed on the site, as it provided security during demolition of the building. 
Another view of the French Quarter wall.
The wall extended along Cooper, as well (Madison is seen in the background).
Here is the same view with the site completely leveled.

The zoning of the French Quarter Inn was achieved through a tool known as the planned development (at the time it was approved, this was known as the planned unit development). As a result, the non-residential zoning of the property was tied to the site plan and building elevations associated with the hotel; any change or deviation from the plans required action by the Land Use Control Board. The elevations above for a new Ballet Memphis studio and headquarters were submitted to the Board in 2015, which represented a shift of focus for the organization which had been in Cordova for nearly 20 years. Its former home on Trinity Road is now home to the Tennessee Shakespeare Co.    

In addition to elevations, local architecture firm archimania also submitted these renderings of the proposed building, both during the day...

...and during the night.

Perhaps the most dramatic change represented by the Ballet Memphis plans, when compared to the old French Quarter Inn, was the proposed placement of the building on the site. It would be directly behind the sidewalk, a continuation of the old buildings built during the streetcar era in what is now known as Overton Square to the west.
The building has two floors; these floor plans show the room placement within these floors, as well as a "roof plan" reflecting the ceiling height of the studio space. 

After the French Quarter was demolished, construction could begin on the new building.
Here is the fairly dramatic view of the newly pedestrian-oriented site looking west, towards town, along Madison.
Here is the view along Madison looking east towards East Parkway. The steel girders seen here directly behind the sidewalk were not part of the building but instead held up a copper screen (see below), one of the more imaginative elements design by lead architect of the project, Todd Walker.
The final product, with its copper brise soleil and dramatic crownlike roof.
The copper screen provides two options for the pedestrian along Madison: a sunny walk along the street or a shaded stroll closer to the building.

View of the building from Lasalle Place.

Here is a view of the main hallway downstairs.

And a more dramatic view from the second floor.

The large studio seats a few hundred patrons.

The Boardroom.
We will end this look at the old French Quarter site with the new view one encounters as he or she enters Overton Square from East Parkway, a welcome addition to the city's urban fabric.





Source: cremedememph

Lost Memphis 37: French Quarter Inn