Meritan, a regional non-profit organization, provides health and life services to vulnerable people in the community. Their new headquarters specializes in foster care services and houses administration, call center workstations, and safe spaces for foster children and their families.
The client chose an abandoned, dilapidated warehouse structure at the edge of the downtown Memphis core to house their new headquarters. From this new facility, their trained professionals provide support and instruction to foster parents. Their staff is always available to answer questions and to respond immediately to any concerns from the foster family or children.
The design strategy for this renovation project relies heavily on two simple strategies. The first is opening the space up to allow for sight lines all the way through the building in two directions—resulting in outside views in three of four directions while standing at the center of a square building. This strategy also allows natural light to enter deeply into the building via large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass wall divisions, five layers deep. The second tactic is a bold use of color, which reacts to the project’s tight budget. The idea began as an insistent imposition of the color green along the flat surfaces of a pair of 120’ green view tunnels. The green tunnels intersect perpendicularly at the center of the building, which is emphasized by a contrasting magenta color on the ceiling and floor surfaces. This space is significant programmatically, as it is a safe/play space for children to wait and play while adults discuss their care. The two-dimensional layer of color played out in interesting ways within the imperfections of the rough tenant infill project—translating from paint into carpet and millwork where needed. The intersecting view tunnels create a collage of reflection and transparencies against the rest of the stark white and grey space.