663 South Cooper

Architecture Firm: archimania

Owner: archimania

Location: Memphis, Tenn.

Project site: Previously developed land

Building program type(s):  Office – 10,000 sf

Series of axonometric drawings showing the how the Framework for Design Excellence is incorporated into the plan and site of the building. Image: archimania

The notion of converting a 1957 building and site into a net-zero energy, net-zero carbon project with progressive design hallmarks of resilience, accessibility, and wellness appears mythical. Developers cite cost and maintenance as the largest obstacles. Integrated design strategies help make aggressive goals more accessible, as tactics used within the design support one another in achieving a more comprehensive approach. Sustainability goals were held alongside goals of sound design, affordability, and research—forcing an integrated approach.    

As an example, the conversion of a central parking lot to a common courtyard linked to interior building spaces is an integration of urban, landscape, and interior strategies. The courtyard provides more permeable ground area for the site, a place to plant trees for the benefit of the site and occupants, a location for the geothermal field to support the buildings, an infiltration field to improve stormwater management, and an outdoor space for occupants to gather, work, and play. Having these assets located in the same place increases the value of buildings and site. Material palette is intentionally simple to be inclusive. White, black, glass, and plywood interiors allow existing terrazzo floors to be uniquely highlighted and many affordable, off-the-shelf products to instantly align with overall design.    

Interior planning and sectional design give individual and collective work spaces access to multiple sources of daylight, reimagining existing openings while adding others for urban connectivity. A “core zone” for systems and utilities allows both current and future partition configurations to be affordable and simple. Millwork design using plywood, ethically sourced wood products, and careful selection of materials creates specific working and collaborative spaces providing flexibility for storage, people, maintenance, and building systems. Palette and structure of the systems are easily replicated to maintain warmth over time and with wear while remaining natural, neutral, and durable.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2018

Year of substantial project completion: 2019

Gross conditioned floor area: 7,444 sq ft

Number of stories: 1

Project climate zone: ASHRAE 3A

Annual hours of operation: 2,133

Site area: 26,687 sq ft

Project site context/setting: Urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $2,220,214

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 1,188

Project teams

Architect: archimania  

AV Consultant + Lighting & Plug Load Controls: Audio Video Artistry  

Certification Consultant: Entegrity Partners Consultant – Solar: Lightwave Solar  

Code Consultant: Code Solutions Group

Contractor: Grinder Taber & Grinder    

Engineer - Mechanical: Haltom Engineering  

Engineer - Electrical: DePouw Engineering  

Engineer - Plumbing: Haltom Engineering  

Engineer - Geothermal: Hydro-Temp  

Engineer - Geotechnical: Intertek PSI  

Engineer - Civil: Kimley-Horn Landscape: Plants + People  

Engineer - Structural: Ozer Structural Engineering


Margaret Cavenagh, AIA, Chair, Studio Gang, Chicago

Angela Brooks, FAIA, Brooks + Scarpa, Los Angeles

Nakita Reed, AIA, NOMA, Quinn Evans, Baltimore

Z Smith, FAIA, Eskew Dumez Ripple, New Orleans

Image credits

Entry porch at community courtyard

Matt Seltzer, AIA

Long office hallway with individuals working at their desk


Individuals in the courtyard of the building


Interior of the office space with natural light.


Exterior side of building