Memphis International Airport Notes

August 2011

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New, Larger “M” Will Welcome
Air Travelers to Memphis

An iconic piece in the City’s $1.6 million makeover of Plough Boulevard, the “M along the airport’s main corridor to the community, is under construction and expected to be completed this fall.

The new M-shaped landscape feature positioned on the hill in the grassy median next to northbound Plough Boulevard near Winchester Road is replacing a smaller M-shaped concrete planter that had been in place for the past decade.

The new structure will be a 150 feet long by 35 feet high meandering M form with LED edge lighting.

“That’s more than 50 percent longer than a basketball court,” said Ritchie Smith of Ritchie Smith & Associates, lead design consultant for the project. “It’s a massive space and the new M will fill the area and be much more prominent than the older version.” Shrubs and other hearty greenery will be planted inside its border. Fifteen feet below the M, the name MEMPHIS will be spelled out in 3-foot-high, brushed stainless steel, 3-D block letters that stretch 100 feet across the landscape. These will be up-lit with LED lighting housed in the concrete bases on which they will be mounted.

The lighting will give the new M 24/7 visibility. High-tech software will allow the lights bordering the M to be displayed in an infinite variety of colors, different intensities of brightness and multiple timing sequences that can create the illusion of movement.

“The M could be outlined in blue light, and the brightness could amplify starting on the left, moving to the right like a river wave rolling across the landscape in the shape of the M,” said Smith. “The sophisticated software and high-tech lights will allow for a lot of creative touches to make the sign come to life. OGCB, Inc. engineered the lighting system.”

The Plough Boulevard Master Plan was initiated by the Aerotropolis Gateways & Beautification Work Group as its first priority project in the Memphis: America’s Aerotropolis Plan. The plan includes trees, flowers and an irrigation system, in addition to the iconic M sign.

University of Memphis president, Shirley Raines, Chairman of the Aerotropolis Gateways & Beautification Work Group said, “The area around the airport is very important to the future of this community. Improving the quality of our infrastructure is critical if we are going to take advantage of the Aerotropolis concept of using airport assets to attract new industry and expand existing businesses. We chose Plough Boulevard improvement as our cornerstone project since it is the major gateway to our community.”


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