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VOL. 128 | NO. 139 | Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bass Pro Shops’ Signage Has ‘Classier’ Look

By Amos Maki

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Bass Pro Shops has changed signage plans for The Pyramid and is including a “sky ride” to the top of the building along with two new balconies outside the two-level observation deck, all part of an effort to embrace the structure’s iconic place in the city’s skyline.

Bass Pro Shops’ design proposal for the sign on the southern side of The Pyramid is considered a classier look by some.

(Bass Pro Shops)

“The building is the sign,” said Bass Pro architect Tom Jowett. “The building itself is really becoming the brand.”

Revised sign design proposal

Jowett presented Bass Pro’s latest design proposals to Memphis City Council and Downtown Memphis Commission Design and Review Board members Tuesday, July 16.

Bass Pro Shops went back to the drawing board after the Springfield, Mo.-based company’s initial plans for large lit logos on all four sides of the structure – featuring the company’s trademark yellow background with red letters – drew some objections from the community and concerns from some on the review board.

“We find that refreshing and also challenging,” Jowett said. “We were definitely challenged by the (DRB) and the community.”

The review board has scheduled a vote on the proposals for Tuesday, July 30. Bass Pro plans on issuing bid packages for the signage and interior build-out of The Pyramid, minus a planned hotel component, Aug. 1.

Bass Pro Shops plans on extending the glass on the top of The Pyramid downward while including outside decks on the east and south sides of the building, along with an inclinator, or “sky ride,” on the southeast corner of the former arena, giving visitors multiple opportunities to glimpse breathtaking views of the city.

Bass Pro’s latest proposal features metallic finish signs with green halo LED illumination on the south, east and west sides of The Pyramid. Each sign would measure 6,807 square feet. There would be no signage on the north side of The Pyramid facing the residential communities on Mud Island’s north end.

“The building is the sign. The building itself is really becoming the brand.”

–Tom Jowett
Bass Pro Shops architect

“It’s much classier,” said Rebecca Conrad of Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects. “I think that pretty much sums it up.”

The south side of The Pyramid will also include an 874-square-foot sign for the Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center that will be one of the attractions at the repurposed arena.

The south entrance to The Pyramid will also have a set of seven other smaller signs for brand names the store will carry as well as an LED-illuminated 240-square-foot sign for “Big Cypress Lodge.”

Jewett said the hotel, or lodge, component will feature 56 to 59 rooms and will be modeled after the company’s Big Cedar Lodge luxury wilderness resort near Branson, Mo.

In 2010, the city and Bass Pro entered into a lease for the destination retailer to occupy the redeveloped Pyramid for an initial period of 20 years, with seven five-year renewals for a possible total of 55 years.

Since then, the city has been preparing the shuttered Downtown arena to be redeveloped by Bass Pro into a tourist and retail destination.

The project will feature a re-created Delta cypress swamp with a large body of water on the ground floor and cypress trees climbing into the vast upper reaches of the building. Plans also call for large water features, a general store, zip line and restaurant.

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