Born from fire, the new Court Annex building in Memphis, Tenn., uses something old, something new, and something borrowed to create the first LEED Gold residential building in the city.
A fire destroyed almost all of a 100-year-old building that overlooked a prominent urban Memphis park except for some giant timbers, which were charred on the outside, and some clay bricks from the original foundation. The timbers remained sturdy enough to be recycled in the frame, and the bricks provided structure for a new basement foundation for the new five-story building with 16 rental apartments and 4,000 square feet of first-floor retail.
Rather than build a contemporary copy of the old building, the developer gained permission to rebuild in a more mid-century modern sensibility, with large mullioned windows overlooking the park. The design works as a visual bridge between the historic Lowenstein next door and the rest of the eclectic historic district.
There is also a literal attachment between the Lowenstein and the Court Annex. The Lowenstein provides the lobby, elevators, and stairs for access to Court Annex.
The Annex has been fully leased since it opened in 2010. A Charter school moved into the bottom floor, and the building’s 16 apartments had an exceptionally quick lease-up period, architect Tony Pellicciotti says. “We find over and over it’s very fine if you do something unique, and if you do it very well the market reacts well. ... It’s one thing to win a design award, but what makes the real difference is if the project succeeds and works for the client.”