At the corner of Cooper Street and Madison Avenue, an aging French-inspired hotel sat vacant for the better part of a decade. With the advent of several other popular arts venues in the area, this iconic corner in the popular Midtown District was ripe for a rebirth. Enter Ballet Memphis.
Drawing dancers from surrounding counties and states, the regional ballet company was eager for a more central location. The travel difficulties incurred by dancers and their families as well as the lack of a theatre and stage suitable for performances at their Germantown location began to take a toll.
Now serving as the home for Ballet Memphis, the new facility features prominent structural elements, including a steel art wall that is reminiscent of the tulle in ballet costumes. Due to the location of the wall, extensive coordination with the City of Memphis was required as it encroached on the existing right-of-way.
The placement of the structure on the site and the design of the parking lot were imperative for several reasons. The existing site had an old retaining wall that had to be rebuilt to support the earthwork required to build the new structure. Maintaining a balance between adequate parking and creating a flow that allowed for convenient pick-up and drop-off for students attending classes were important design considerations in this urban location. Green infrastructure was incorporated throughout the project. Permeable concrete was used for the parking surfaces and raingardens and bioswales were also used in order to achieve a detention waiver from the City.
SSR was responsible for civil and structural engineering on the project. Ballet Memphis opened to patrons in August of 2017. Photos are courtesy of Archimania.