Vasco A. Smith, Jr. Administrative Building

The design aims to respectfully modernize the 12-story Shelby County Administrative Building by providing more efficient planning, better work flow, and a energy efficient envelope with new building systems. This 1960’s era building was designed by a renowned Memphis Architect. Memphis is losing its mid-century modern buildings due to the prevailing notion that they can’t be updated effectively or economically.  Our goal was to create a framework for reinvigorating the interiors of a mid-century modern office building, by providing a clearly organized and transparent environment in which to conduct the inner workings of county government. We developed an organizing strategy that could easily be adapted to the ever-changing needs of all the County departments, allowing increased occupancy of the building. ADA upgrades, new mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems, and a new high-performance exterior glazing system absorbed most of the construction funds, leaving a modest budget for the interiors of the project.

The design introduces a clearly articulated public “Street” for circulation and interaction in the center of each floor plate. The “Street” provides clear wayfinding for each floor and infrastructure for any future office renovations. In addition to its straightforward planning function, the Street articulates a more open and accessible government, encouraging informal meetings and gatherings between visitors, employees, and elected officials. The centrally located “Street” also opens the perimeter of each floor plate, allowing daylight and unimpeded views to reach deep into the space from both the north and the south, throughout the office work areas. This not only reduces the energy load of lighting the building, but has had a positive impact on the daily experience of occupants by creating an open and collaborative work environment.

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