The Memphis Medical District streetscape improvements are intended to bring about a visible transformation to the streets and public open spaces throughout the Medical District. Employees, tourists, students, residents, and other visitors utilize the public spaces in the Medical District as they walk, drive, bike, or ride transit to their destinations. Public spaces can also be places of enjoyment, relaxation, and community building. The appearance and functionality of these places are important, and also reflect the safety and vitality of the area.
The Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC) has engaged a diverse group of stakeholders to develop a plan for enhancing more than thirty intersections and streets in the Medical District over the next 3 to 5 years. Local neighborhood groups, residents, businesses, and our institutional partners have contributed to the development of a “playbook” to guide the implementation of these improvements. The MMDC has also hired Looney Ricks Kiss and Alta Planning + Design to form a design team to lead a community participation process and assemble the recommended improvements. The Downtown Memphis Commission has provided $250,000 towards the public spaces work in the Edge District in 2016.
Work on seven of these intersections began in October 2016 in conjunction with road resurfacing by the City of Memphis. The most dramatic of these interventions is around the intersection of Marshall Ave and Monroe Ave in the Edge District. In October 2014, Livable Memphis and Innovate Memphis (formerly the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team) organized a series of temporary interventions designed to highlight the redevelopment potential of the neighborhood. Called MEMFix: Edge District, the event included a short-term reconfiguration of Marshall & Monroe, and led to a public design process to consider more permanent improvements.
Similar treatments are planned at other intersections across the Medical District, and will reflect the particular needs at those locations. The City of Memphis has recently added bike lanes following the resurfacing of Pauline St. between Poplar Ave and Union Ave. MMDC has supported this work by installing high visibility crosswalks and modifying turning radii at Madison Ave & Pauline St. These interventions have improved safety particularly for the many employees and visitors that walk across the intersection each day.
The current work, funded by MMDC and the Downtown Memphis Commission, incorporates more durable materials intended to last up to 10 years. As more commercial and residential projects are developed in the area, it is expected that longer-term investment in public infrastructure will follow. Pedestrian plaza areas that were created for MEMFix using paint and pallet containers for landscaping were replaced by more durable epoxy gravel and self-watering outdoor planters. Redesigning the direction of travel lanes and installing traffic delineators improved safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
Many of the other intersection and streetscape improvements are shown below. For more information about the streetscape work, email email@example.com or call 901-552-4781.
Madison Avenue & Orleans Street
For the most part, Memphis has a relatively rhythmic street grid, with Avenues running east-west and Streets running north-south. Occasional deviations from the grid can provide interesting intersection configurations. A diagonal Monroe Avenue intersects with Orleans St. and Madison Ave in the Medical District to create a triangular open space that for years was used primarily as a utility substation. The space lacked adequate landscaping and pedestrian lighting, and excessive vehicle speeds along Madison Ave made the space difficult to access.
MMDC partnered with the University of Memphis Design Collaborative and Memphis College of Art to reimagine this space as a reinvigorated public park. Benches and trash receptacles, along with improved landscaping and a fenced dog park area was added to activate the space and enhance the street edge. The project built upon and expanded existing pedestrian facilities, and connected with the nearby trolley stop on Madison Ave.
Adams Avenue & Orleans Street
The intersection of Adams & Orleans is generally considered the heart of Victorian Village. Nineteenth Century landmarks, such as the James Lee House, Woodruff-Fontaine Home, and Mallory Neely House Museum are located within a block of the intersection. Improvements included high visibility crosswalks, coordinated stopping locations, and new pedestrian crossing signs.
Jefferson Avenue & Pauline Street
Despite the parking lots and parking garages that dominate the area, visitors to the nearby Kennedy Veterans Administration Hospital and Regional One Health frequently walk across the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Pauline Street. Prior to the redesign, the intersection was challenged with sparse landscaping, a lack of pedestrian-scaled lighting and amenities, and excessive pedestrian crossing distances. The intersection now has high visibility crosswalks, a new pedestrian plaza, and new planters and trash receptacles.
Madison Avenue & Marshall Avenue
The crossing distance across Marshall Avenue along Madison used to be a leg-cramping 120 ft. At an average stride, it would take 34 seconds to complete this crossing. Awkward site lines and excessive vehicle speeds from Madison onto Marshall added to the unsafe and unsightly conditions.
Improvements to this intersection included an expanded pedestrian zone intended to slow down turning vehicles and shorten crossing distances. This new pedestrian "plaza" was created using epoxy gravel and landscaping treatments similar to other intersections across the District.