Better Together:
Creating an Inclusive Vertical Urban Village

Hosted in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Housing and Community Development Knowledge Community.

Click here to access the webinar recorded on October 9, 2019.

Once home to Memphis’s leading employer, the sprawling 1.5 million-square-foot Sears Roebuck & Company Distribution Center, was abandoned in 1993 and stood vacant for more than 20 years. Reopened in 2017 as Crosstown Concourse, the 16-acre complex now integrates arts and culture, commercial and retail, education, health and wellness, non-profits, and housing, as a vibrant “beyond mixed use” community anchor. The biggest adaptive reuse initiative in Tennessee and the largest LEED Platinum Certified historic adaptive reuse project in the world, the $210 million complex was nearly a decade in the making.

In 2010, Todd Richardson, an art history professor, and Christopher Miner, a video artist, founded Crosstown Arts, a nonprofit arts organization, to create a vision for the building’s redevelopment that would cultivate Memphis’s creative community through “an open an inclusive place designed to dissolve barriers to access.” Over the next three years, they engaged development partners in the community to explore the feasibility of their plan and enlisted seven other organizations as founding tenants, guided by the philosophy that they would be “better together.” The City of Memphis and Shelby County as well as financing from federal Historic and New Market Tax Credits provided additional support for the project’s development.

Designed by Memphis-based Looney Ricks Kiss and Vancouver-based firm Dialog, the award-winning restoration/renovation maintains the historic building’s rugged industrial character while introducing contemporary features and uses. Now home to forty diverse tenants including Crosstown High School, Memphis Teacher Residency, Church Health, and the Global Café, the project also comprises 265 apartments housing over 400 residents.

Anne-Marie Lubenau, director of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, will provide a brief overview of the award and the five 2019 medalists, including Crosstown Concourse. Todd Richardson, Co-founder of Crosstown Arts, and Anthony Pellicciotti, Principal of Looney Ricks Kiss, will discuss the collaborative process of design and development that led to the creation of the Memphis project.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand and describe how investment in urban development can address community welfare including access to arts and culture, education, healthcare, and affect economic, environmental, and social change.
  • Discuss how integrating new development into a broader, sustainable vision that taps into and leverages community resources improves quality of life and the regeneration of communities.
  • Demonstrate the value of engaging in collaborative partnerships in the planning, design, and development of inclusive, community-based projects.
  • Describe how design and development can promote socioeconomic diversity and address environmental objectives.

This public program was recorded on October 9, 2019. Click here to access the webinar through the host organization.


Todd Richardson, PhD
Todd Richardson is co-founder of Crosstown Arts and Co-Leader of Crosstown Concourse. Since 2010, he has led the effort to transform the historic, 1.5 million-square-foot Sears Crosstown building into a vertical urban village anchored in arts, education and healthcare. He has lectured and published internationally on topics ranging from art and architecture to religion and politics. To better understand the connection between art history and community development, watch his TEDx talk, “The Dilemma of Discovery”.

Anthony Pellicciotti, AIA, CDT, LEED AP BD+C
Tony Pellicciotii focuses on creative problem solving for a broad range of project types. His flexibility has led to diverse roles including owner’s representation, project management, LEED services, and Department of the Interiors Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit consulting. Representative projects include Crosstown Concourse, FedEx’s World Headquarters expansion, Gables Park Plaza, and Toyota Center. Tony is active in mission work, leading numerous Katrina rebuilding teams, and is an adjunct member of the University of Memphis faculty.

Anne-Marie Lubenau, Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence
Anne-Marie Lubenau, FAIA is an architect, educator, and writer dedicated to increasing understanding of design of the built environment and its impact on our lives. She has more than three decades of experience leading projects and programs that engage people and communities in design to foster more beautiful, inclusive, and resilient cities. Anne-Marie regularly contributes to national and international forums on design and cities including Metropolis Magazine. She is a Design Critic at Harvard Graduate School of Design and serves on the Boston Civic Design Commission and Association of Architecture Organizations board of directors. Anne-Marie holds a BArch from Carnegie Mellon and was a 2012 Harvard Loeb Fellow.


Crosstown Concourse Case Study (2019 RBA Gold Medalist)

Courtesy of Crosstown Arts

For a detailed look at 2019 RBA Gold Medalist Crosstown Concourse check out to following:

Inspiring Design Webinar Series

Image: HUD Office of Policy Development and Research