Located in the redeveloping South Main Historic District near downtown Memphis, the new Malco Powerhouse Cinema has transformed a former 1914 railyard steam and electric power station into a premium 7 screen boutique cinema. The urban site was tight, sloped, and contained an unmovable high voltage electrical substation for the existing Main Street Trolley. The overall cinema design overcame these complications and restored key historical elements of the existing powerhouse building including the old historic smokestack now adorned with the logo lightning bolt. Hundreds of small panes of glass were replaced in the existing steel windows and tons of existing brick was salvaged and reused repeatedly throughout the existing building. Strict oversight was provided by the State Historic Preservation Office to monitor and maintain the look of the building.
The once abandoned Powerhouse has become the gathering space of the cinema with a feature bar, fireplace, wood-burning pizza oven, seating and a strong connection to an outdoor patio. The cinema is highlighted by an MXT branded premium large-format auditorium with a 60’-0” screen, laser projection, and 3D sound. The remaining auditoriums are equipped with recliner seating and premium projection and sound. A full-service kitchen creates restaurant-quality food and has the ability to stage food for in-auditorium delivery.
Overall this project is an example of how cinema offers more than a film screening. Done well it is an asset to the community.