Project Profiles: Retail & Mixed Use

85 UNION, Memphis, Tenn.

The upper levels at 85 Union use interior glass walls to bring sunlight to the interior workspace.

The upper levels at 85 Union use interior glass walls to bring sunlight to the interior workspace.

Retrofit Team

Architect and Interior Designer: Looney Ricks Kiss, Memphis
Structural Engineer: Tom Robison & Associates Inc., Memphis, (901) 754-4411
Mechanical Engineer: Gala Engineering Inc., Memphis, (901) 384-8400
Plumbing Engineer: White Plumbing & Mechanical, Memphis
General Contractor: Montgomery Martin Contractors (general renovation), Memphis, and Metro Construction (advertising agency portion), Memphis


Carpet and Resilient Tile: Mannington
Ceiling Tile: Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Solutions
Restroom Porcelain Tile: Daltile
Whiteboard Wallcovering: Walltalkers
Fabric Wallcovering: Carnegie Xorel
Plastic Laminate: Wilsonart; Formica; and Laminart
Plastic Glazing: 3Form
Wall Sconces: Artemide
Decorative Pendant: Luceplan
Downlights: Cooper Lighting

The Retrofit

85 Union is located at one of the most iconic pedestrian-oriented corners in Memphis, the corner of Union Avenue and Main Street. The owner asked Looney Ricks Kiss to analyze the existing underperforming building to determine if it could be revitalized into more appealing, leasable space. Strategies were developed to reveal hidden architectural and programmatic gems.

The 17,000-square-foot building reveals itself as a simple arrangement of an upper-level mass composed on a floating ground floor of light. The upper-level mass is sculpted and edited to reveal the interior functionality of the building, putting ground-floor activity on display.

The office entry lobby creates a unique street-level pedestrian entry for the advertising agency, which is housed upstairs. The upper levels use interior glass walls to bring sunlight to the interior creative workspace. The new corner bay window, set amongst a backdrop of the city, creates conference spaces that allow creative juices to flow. The corner bay window also allows views up and down the Main Street corridor and up Union Avenue toward the river. A new 2-story volume was created to enhance collaboration within the open studio spaces. The new floor opening creates connections and encourages collaboration. A restrained palette connects the exterior and interior spaces.

The existing cast concrete structure is revealed in the interior execution and exterior transparency, along with the signature red color of the advertising agency. The upper form of existing brick curtainwall was peeled back and punched to reveal the primary structural frame—a cast-in-place column and beam system.

Photos: Ken West Photography

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