Memphis, Tennessee, is known for its historic blues clubs and annual barbeque championships. It is also a regional center for commerce, education, media, art, and entertainment. Architects who have worked in Memphis understand that structures need designs that let them stand out among the different establishments that are popular tourist attractions.
Our editorial team has created a list of the best commercial architects in the area. These firms are known for their innovation in restoration or ground-up work.
John Harrison Jones Architect
431 South Main Street, Suite 102 Memphis, TN 38103
Serving the Memphis area for 20 years, John Harrison Jones Architect is acknowledged by the Memphis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), AIA Tennessee, AIA Gulf States Region, Memphis Landmarks Commission, and the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. Principal John Harrison Jones guides the firm in assessing the environmental, social, cultural, historical, and regional traditions related to a project to ensure structures are contextual and sustainable. The services they provide include programming, site evaluation and selection, site analysis and planning, budget planning for project cost, and space planning and interiors. They also provide schematic design and development, contract documentation, contractor selection and negotiation, contract observation and project close-out.
John Harrison Jones Architect’s custom residential and commercial projects emphasize creativity, innovation, and observing client vision. Most of the firm’s portfolio showcases adaptive reuse commercial projects. The Joe’s Wines & Liquor addition and renovation project in Memphis, TN required the firm to update an existing structure while maintaining its 1960s vibe.
Another structure, Originally a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, is a single-story commercial building made of modest materials and simple form. John Harrison Jones Architect reorganized the space to showcase the merchandise and enhance customer convenience. The design capitalizes on the mid-century character of the “Sputnik” sign. The project features mosaic tile boxes, a ribbon of cove lighting, and perforated metal panels, which are meant to attract customers and support the overall theme. The existing roof deck was exposed and painted dark to minimize its appearance. Adjustable track lighting was installed for the product shelves.
109 N. Main Street, Suite 200 Memphis, TN 38103
Architecture, Inc.’s (ArchInc) principals offer over 85 years of combined experience to their clients. David M. Schuermann, AIA, Valentina Shands-Puppione, AIA, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), and Charles “Chooch” Pickard, AIA, are known for their dedication to preserving the historic character of the Memphis area. A portion of the firm’s portfolio includes their work at the Court Square Center in Memphis, TN. The mixed-use project included the renovation of the 1924, 21-story, Columbian Mutual Tower and the 1886, five-story, Lowenstein Brothers Department Store. Its design focused on creating a downtown living community, combining apartments, offices, and retail spaces. The firm retained the historic characteristics of the shell and structure in both buildings and used contemporary finishes for new construction. The terracotta facade and original clay roofs of the Columbian Mutual Tower were restored. The Lowenstein Building’s ornate cast iron, stone, and terracotta detailing, which were destroyed in 1960, were recreated to retain historic integrity.
Architecture, Inc.’s specialization lies in new construction, preservation, restoration, and renovation of existing buildings, historic structures, and National Park Service certified projects. Their other project types include commercial, residential, renovation and restoration, multi-family, and educational sites, as well as restaurants, community engagement and master planning. They also have experience with historic tax credit and national register consulting.
Thoda & Associates PLLC
5159 Wheelis Drive, Suite 100, Memphis, TN 38017
Thoda & Associates PLLC is led by principal William Thoda who guides the firm in commercial, retail, and industrial projects. The work on the Crescent Center, the Renaissance Center, and the Memphis headquarters for Medtronic were all overseen by Thoda before founding the firm. Before Thoda & Associates PLLC was founded in 2006, its associates had already been servicing the Memphis area for over 40 years.
The firm’s portfolio includes design and development projects for commercial, office, and retail structures. Among those projects are Travure—a 5 story office building and parking garage complex in Germantown, TN—and the Medtronic Spinal Division Campus and Distribution buildings in Memphis, TN. The firm provided construction and design services for these four office buildings and two parking garages. The work totaled over 475,000 square feet. Medtronic also worked with Thoda & Associates PLLC on 35,000 square feet of distribution space in Airport Logistics development, which included the automated Pick Module system.
676 Marshall Ave, Suite 101 Memphis, TN 38103
PKM Architects’ goal is to shape the community through innovative and modern design solutions. Their team members are encouraged to actively contribute to the design process, which allows the firm to provide its clients with a wide range of design solutions. President Pat K. Magruder, AIA, leads the firm with his experience in working on hospitality, civic, educational, and commercial facilities.
PKM Architects’ projects can be found in Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, and other areas in the southeast region. Most of these structures are commercial, for healthcare or education, and office or mixed-use facilities. One educational project is the Marion Elementary School addition in Marion, AR. The firm was commissioned to create a new design for the school where the character of the historical elementary school was kept intact. A modern addition included a front entry that gave the school a campus-like feel. They also increased the overall classroom space, provided an art library, and new administration spaces.
498 South Main St., Memphis, TN 38103
In creating a good design, UrbanArch Associates begins with understanding their clients. The firm’s designs are backed by thorough observation and research into the purpose and environment of each project. For example, their work on Corky’s BBQ required an understanding of how to design a structure that adapts to future franchises in other locations as the company is looking ahead in the future. Factors like site planning, location, and style were all taken into consideration to meet the needs of the client’s evolving business model. Inspiration for the building design and interiors were taken from Mississippi juke-joints while encouraging a comfortable and casual dining experience.
Led by Brian Bullard and Stephen Skinner, UrbanArch Associates views designing as a responsibility to the well-being of future generations. Their mission is to enhance communities through thoughtful and creative architectural solutions. Projects like civic, aviation, recreational, educational, industrial, medical, restaurant, residential, mixed-use, and retail can be found in their portfolio.
3009 Davies Plantation Rd Lakeland, TN 38002
The expansion of the FedEx Air Operations Training Center in Memphis, TN was worked on by A2H and their principals Mark Askew, professional engineer (PE), David Smith, (Ph.D.), PE, Ryan McDaniel, PE, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) AP, Logan Meeks, PE, Stewart Smith, AIA, LEED AP, and Pat Harcourt, PE. The facility was expanded by 245,000 square feet and equipped with the latest technology for air operations. There are 12 simulation bays at the core, which have space to hold large flight simulators to train FedEx pilots. The FedEx Air Operations Training Center also has a corporate history museum, a 400-seat conference auditorium, classrooms, and multiple support office areas. A2H worked with the campus’ current master plan to ensure the new building matched with the existing campus setting and that the facility was designed based on the LEED Gold standards. It also features structural integrity to withstand a seismic event and to maintain operations afterwards.
A2H is a collaborative firm whose services include architecture, interior design, engineering, landscape architecture, planning, and consulting for commercial use. They also include office and corporate work, education, healthcare, and industrial projects. Their portfolio includes over 10,000 completed projects for public and private clients across Tennessee and Mississippi.
396 N Cleveland Street Memphis, Tennessee 38104
Creating spaces where clients can work, serve, and play is at the core of brg3s Architects’ designs. This firm, headed by principal Stephen Berger, collaborates with their clients to define project solution-oriented goals. Its portfolio showcases laboratories, outpatient surgery and emergency departments, small clinics, and large-scale residential healthcare facilities. The Le Bonheur Outpatient Center in Jackson, TN is among one of the firm’s healthcare projects. It is a 31,000 square foot clinic built to provide innovative pediatric care. brg3s Architects’ designed it through an inside-out process. The patient and staff flow was paramount in the design and inspired a minimized process that created a maximum experience.
Other brg3s Architects’ projects include civic work, higher education, restaurant, retail, and multi/single-family structures. Their services include architectural, interior, and sustainable design, and urban planning.
Pickering Firm Inc.
6363 Poplar Avenue, Suite 300, Memphis, TN 38119
The Pickering Firm Inc. is centered on its philosophy of providing service and good work. Their president and CEO Mike Pohlman, PE, ensures that his team understands client issues and provides solutions. Most of the firm’s projects are commercial, retail, healthcare, and industrial structures. Other than engineering and architecture, the firm also provides structural, mechanical, electrical, transportation, environmental, and energy management services.
The Nike Office Building in Memphis, TN was worked on by the Pickering Firm Inc. It is a 77,664 square foot office building that includes office, work, and breakroom spaces, a full-sized gymnasium with locker rooms and a fitness center, and a full-service cafeteria for up to 300 people. The building exterior is composed of insulated, concrete tilt-up panels. The building experiences a reduction in water use by 42% and a total energy cost savings of 29%. The interior carpets are sustainable and green label certified and the paint used is Green Seal certified, which means The Nike Office Building meets health and environmental standards. It was constructed in seven months and achieved a LEED Silver certification. Pickering Firm Inc.’s other services for the project include architecture, design development, planning and construction documents, mechanical, electrical, structural, plumbing, civil engineering, and additional services coordination.
7975 Stage Hills Blvd, Suite 4 Memphis, TN 38133
BGKT Architects served as the executive architect on the team behind the successful revitalization of The Central Station Hotel by Hilton in Memphis, TN. The firm works as the preferred vendor for hotels like Hilton, Marriott, Choice, and Intercontinental. Their experience in hospitality design, commercial, government, and institutional projects comes from their 40 years in the industry. Currently, the firm is led by Danny G. Bounds, Sr., AIA, Paul D. Gillespie, Sr., J. Arthur Killebrew, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, and Michael A. Tushek, AIA, LEED AP BD+C. BGKT Architects’ portfolio includes large-scale, mixed-use, commercial, institutional, and corporate projects.
The Central Station hotel by Hilton in Memphis, TN received a revitalization to its 1914 structure in 2020. Rather than demolishing the entire building, this hotel was restored to preserve the historical structure. The vision for the hotel was to create an authentic cultural experience for visitors in the city’s South Main Arts District. The process required large sections of the terra cotta block to be removed and reframed with a continuous structural steel support system. Exterior architectural lighting was added to highlight the limestone frieze and other historic features. Interior spatial arrangements of the arrival halls and open areas were kept intact. The station’s former waiting room was converted into an updated, 6,000 square foot ballroom. Carpeting and acoustic plasters were added because the original terrazzo floor and period ceilings caused the room to be an echo chamber. The bar and lounge area—where the station’s original ladder led to the second level—featured a two-level wall of vinyl.
ANF Architects Inc.
1500 Union Avenue Memphis, TN 38104
ANF Architects, Inc. prides themselves on their commitment to sustainability. Their projects are worked on by LEED Accredited Professionals that ensure each design has a balance between function, identity, and style. The firm’s focus is to always keep their client’s needs in the forefront. Their services include master planning, adaptive reuse, historic buildings and landmarks research, fundraising support, furniture, fixtures and equipment procurement, and interior design.
Led by Joe Wieronski, AIA, LEED AP, Rebecca Conrad, AIA, LEED AP, and Scott Dicus, AIA, LEED AP, the firm’s portfolio features commercial, educational, corporate, healthcare, and civic projects. Among those projects are the Viking Culinary Arts Centers in Tennessee (Memphis and Franklin) Bryn Mawr, PA, Atlanta, GA, Garden City, NY, and Brentwood, MO. The design for the centers is based on the concept of an early 20th-century dry goods store. All of the merchandise is on display and easily accessible for customers.
The Crump Firm
81 Monroe Ave., Suite 100 Memphis, TN 38103
Crump Firm not only provides architectural services to clients, their focus is to develop inspiring structures that endure. The firm has seven architects and 12 interior designers who work collaboratively in special teams to ensure the integration of architectural and interior design services in all projects. Their eight principals—Metcalf Crump, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), David Hoback, Walt Reed, AIA, Honoré John Lartigue, LEED AP, Scott Hatley, Jennifer Campbell, Hattie Jones, Virginia Norman, all have an average of 30 years of experience in the industry.
Crump Firm analyzes all existing conditions related to a project before beginning. Factors such as the client’s goals, objectives, and the culture of whoever will be occupying the space are taken into account. Their portfolio consists of commercial, office, healthcare, and hospitality structures.
The TRUE Sports office in Memphis, TN is one of Crump Firm Architects’ corporate renovation projects. The project included an overhaul of the 20th and 21st floors of One Commerce Square — the location of TRUE Sports — and included joining two existing floors with a monumental staircase. The design features included open personal workspaces, flexible collaboration areas, and meeting rooms for group work. There is also a sports-themed break room. Crump Firm ensured the design could accommodate on-site and work-from-home requirements.
5101 Wheelis Drive, Suite 215, Memphis, TN 38117
Fleming Architects’ experience in the industry includes working on projects such as schools, churches, commercial offices, medical facilities, recreational spaces, as well as single and multi-family residences. The Mercedes Benz Showroom in Memphis, TN is one of the firm’s commercial works.
Fleming Architects were also recruited to help design an addition to an existing dealership location in East Memphis, TN. It features castellated beams, blue portal entrances, and canted glazing that emphasizes transparency. The addition included an enlarged showroom, office and conference room spaces, and a new carwash and detail bays. Fleming Architects prioritized convenience and comfort in the showroom’s modern and industrial design.
Robert Fleming, Steve Landwehr, Michael Winter, and Curt Pierce lead Fleming Architects as its principals. Architects, planners, and interior designers make up most of the firm and collaborate to provide innovative, strategic, and well-executed design solutions. Each member of the firm undergoes training and mentoring to maintain a consistent quality of work.
40 South Main Street, Suite 2300 Memphis, TN 38103
Rick Gardner, AIA, and Terri Struminger lead HBG Design in its integrated practice of architecture and interior design. They are recognized among the top five nationally ranked hospitality and entertainment design firms for their high quality and experiential design. The firm’s architects and interior designers collaborate to create the designs that have earned them awards and recognitions including the 2021 AIA Merit Award, 2021 AIA Honor Award, and 2021 Rising GIant. Their clients include luxury brands, stand-alone boutique hotels, casinos, leisure entertainment destinations, and one-of-a-kind resort environments.
HBG Design’s portfolio consists of commercial, hospitality, entertainment, restaurant, retail, office, and mixed-use projects. The Guest House At Graceland™ Resort is among the firm’s work in the Memphis area. The inspiration for this project came from Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s flash style — from jumpsuits to sunglasses and to capes to shoes. The classic revival hotel contains 450 rooms and is rated four diamonds.
Looney Ricks Kiss
50 South B.B. King Blvd. Suite 600 Memphis, TN 38103
The professionals at Looney Ricks Kiss (LRK) focus their attention on creating memorable places to live, work, and play. The firm collaborates with their clients to ensure that projects become transformative places that encourage engagement, nurture communities, and enhance urban life. LRK’s efforts were acknowledged with awards such as the 2020 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award, 2020 Building Memphis Project of the Year, Best in American Living Awards 2020, and Pillars of the Industry Awards 2020.
Principals J. Carson Looney, FAIA, Frank Ricks, FAIA, LEED AP, Nando Micale, FAIA, American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), PP, Robert Norcross, AIA, LEED AP, Rebecca Courtney, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), International Interior Designer Association (IIDA), ensure the firm is capable of integrating planning, research, architecture, sustainability, and interior design into each project.
LRK designs public and private spaces. Their portfolio includes single and multifamily, mixed-use, commercial, interiors, hospitality, sustainability, historic, and civic structures. The Saddle Creek Retail Shops in Memphis, TN is one of the firm’s numerous projects. The lifestyle center underwent an expansion and renovation to enhance the existing shops and restaurants in the shopping district. LRK worked on this 140,000 square feet of retail space, which is set on a walkable pedestrian-oriented landscape. The architecture blends contemporary and transitional styles.