How do you eat an elephant?

It's a question the Concourse Development team has been asking for months.

 
 

In terms of its size, Crosstown Concourse is nothing if not elephantine. Redeveloping this massive distribution hub means installing 1500 doors, 3200 windows, and 72 miles of fire sprinkler piping. (That would stretch from Crosstown to Tunica, MS.)

Feel a bit warm? Concourse will have the capacity to generate 2100 tons of air conditioning, enough to cool 700 three-bedroom houses.

Faced with such scale, it can be difficult to know how to move forward. How do you build a village inside an abandoned warehouse? How do you care for the needs of underserved neighborhoods? How do you generate the ideas that will make Memphis competitive in the 21st century?

 Photo by: Jamie Harmon

Photo by: Jamie Harmon

Fortunately, Matt Futrell knows the answer to the construction question. Futrell is a senior project manager at Grinder Taber Grinder, the firm that is managing construction at Concourse.

One day at a time.

“Right now we’re trying to get everything skinned,” Futrell continues. “We’ve got to get the building in the dry before the wet winter months come. That’s the race.”

Where construction is concerned, that means a little bit of everything. These days, there are more than 500 workers onsite every day, doing jobs as diverse as sandblasting, elevator installation, HVAC ductwork, steel erection, and underground utilities.

“You name it, we’ve got it,” says Futrell, shouting over the pounding of jackhammers. “I think we’ve turned a corner here. We’re getting close to running on all cylinders.”

 Photo by: Jamie Harmon

Photo by: Jamie Harmon

Perhaps the most obvious change is the windows. So far, about 1000 window sections have been installed. By the time Crosstown Concourse is finished, that number will rise to 3200—more than the White House and US Capitol combined.

These aren’t just any windows. In order to qualify for its $35 million in Historic Tax Credits, Concourse had to design and fabricate windows that were aesthetically similar to the originals. The development team is also pursuing a LEED certification and sought windows that would further its commitment to energy efficiency.

To that end, they chose an aluminum-frame prototype from Quaker Window Products in Freeburg, Missouri. It’s a marvel of modern science, boasting thermal breaks and a low E glaze that reflects certain types of harmful solar radiation.

In plain English: not only do these windows offer some of the best views in Memphis; they’re also about twice as energy-efficient as the windows on an average home.

 Photo by: Jamie Harmon

Photo by: Jamie Harmon

That’s nothing to sneeze at—especially when you consider that window glass comprises over 65% of the building’s exterior. Energy-efficient windows mean lower heating and cooling costs, which translate to lower energy bills for the Memphians who live and work in Concourse. Not to mention, less stress for Mother Earth.

To be clear: Concourse isn’t about eating elephants. But we are about building community—one window, one brick, one day at a time.

Some days I’ll just walk out here and look at it,” Futrell confesses, sticking his hands in his pockets. “From where I’m standing, it looks like a whole new building.”

 Photo by: Jamie Harmon

Photo by: Jamie Harmon