1. What is the South Main Design Challenge?

The purpose of the South Main Design Challenge is to generate innovative and original ideas for how best to reuse vacant spaces and underutilized buildings in the neighborhood.

Seven (7) project sites were selected that represent prime development opportunities and underutilized spaces that could be transformed into community assets. Teams will each select a project site and develop their own unique design vision for future development.


2. Who can participate?

Anyone who is interested can form a team and participate. Each team can consist of up to six (6) people. We think that this effort is a great chance to showcase the talent and passion of local architects, urban designers, property and business owners, artists, students, and all other Downtown stakeholders.

Although not required, we recommend that each team include at least one (1) architect or designer and at least one (1) member of the South Main community.


3. What are the important deadlines and dates?

The deadline to register a team to participate is January 14, 2013. At least one (1) team will be selected for each of the seven (7) project sites. The selected teams will be notified by January 16, 2013. Each team will be assigned to a specific site and asked to develop both a short-term concept and long-term vision for their site.

The teams will unveil their design plans at an open house in conjunction with the monthly South Main Trolley Tour.  The Trolley Tour is typically held in the evening on the last Friday of each month. Two (2) project sites will be featured in both February and March, and three (3) sites will be featured in April.


4. Why should I participate?

Do you have a great idea for how to improve the South Main neighborhood? Do you walk by a vacant lot and imagine the possibilities for turning that spot into a cool public space or art project? If so, now is your chance to get your ideas and suggestions out on the table. Join this public conversation about how best to reuse vacant buildings and underutilized lots to strengthen this important Memphis neighborhood. The winning team will also receive a $1,000 prize!


5. What kind of work products should each team produce?

It is really up to each team to decide how best to present your design ideas. Our recommendation would be to include any kind of sketch, model, diagram, or illustration that is needed to help communicate your design vision and concept. We are not looking for finely detailed architectural drawings here. Simple concept sketches or a study model can work well for this type of project.

Each team’s presentation and design illustrations should ultimately be in a PDF format that can be added to the project website. Each team should also print their illustrations and drawings at 24 inch x 36 inch format for display. We will provide the easels and foam core boards, if needed.


6. Will there be a winner?

Yes, a group of South Main community members and development experts will serve as the review committee and select the Design Challenge winner.  The winning team will be publicized on the project website and will receive a $1,000 prize as the winners of the inaugural Downtown Memphis Design Challenge!


7. Will the winning proposals actually be built or implemented?

The purpose of this event is really to generate ideas for how vacant lots and underutilized spaces can be improved within the South Main District.

Although no dedicated funding exists for implementation, it is certainly a possibility that ideas that come from this process could be used to improve the neighborhood in the future. The DMC staff and the South Main Association will look at the final results and see if any of the short-term concept plans have property owner support, will be high-impact improvements, and are feasible to implement. Grant opportunities might also be found in the future to help implement some of the design ideas that originate from this process.


8. How can I find out more information?

Contact Brett Roler at (901) 575-0540 for more information or to register for the South Main Design Challenge.