Journal

Making History

 

The Opening of Crosstown Concourse

Exactly 90 years after its birth, the long dormant Sears Crosstown building was reborn as Crosstown Concourse.


 

August 19th, 2017

For Memphians, it was a massive celebration of the impossible coming to life. For us, it was one of our biggest challenges to date.

How do you introduce tens of thousands of people to a never before seen concept? How do you navigate them through a building as long as the Empire State Building is tall? How do you punctuate history being made before their eyes with both reverence and excitement? And, more over, how do you do it on a limited budget?


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To tackle the challenge, we combined extensive historical research, Concourse’s travel theme and aesthetic, plus the building’s staggering scale and used them to our advantage.

Knowing we would never have enough manpower to wrangle a crowd of over 10,000, we created a pocket sized itinerary + map that allowed visitors to be their own tour guide.

One side condensed 90 years of history, seven years of development, and eight hours of scheduled performances into easily digestible panels to give visitors context of the project's magnitude and inform them of what the day had in store.

The flip side contained the map, which was a critical component as it was the public's first introduction to Concourse's color coded navigation system and, more importantly, it showed you how to get to all the fun stuff. 

Creating the map was easier said than done, though.


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After scrapping dozens of sketches and digging through hundreds of blueprints, we finally found a dollhouse rendering of the entire length of Concourse, one that we could replicate to build a subway map of sorts, with each Concourse tenant being a stop. Once a visitor reached a stop, they could reference the key below to see what goodies and activities awaited them inside.


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A vast portion of our knowledge regarding the intricacies of the building’s past came from Sears Crosstown's monthly newsletter, The Conveyor.

It was there we discovered illustrations of service pins given to employees to mark milestone years of employment. Their timeless design inspired us to create new pins to meaningfully and seamlessly connect the past to the present.

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