October 19, 2016 First-Year Students Explore Nashville, Visit Top Design Firms


In early October, a caravan of nearly 100 first-year Architecture and Interior Design students traveled to Nashville to connect with award-winning design firms and observe the city’s unique architectural spaces. The one-day excursion was intended to introduce students to accomplished designers and celebrated architecture of a major city.

“This trip was a wonderful moment where the College of Architecture and Design partnered with the Nashville architectural community to enrich and enhance the first-year experience,” said David Fox, associate professor of Architecture. “It was an intense journey where students had a front-row seat to the inner workings of outstanding design offices while seeing first hand the amazing transformation of the city through the Nashville Civic Design Center.”

Students visited five prestigious design firms, all of which have hired or were founded by UT alumni, and for many students, the highlight of the trip was having the opportunity to visit the firms. “My favorite part of the trip was going to the architecture firms and seeing the different types of projects that they have completed and what they are currently working on,” said Interior Design student, Olivia McWright. “The designers and architects are extremely talented.”

Architecture student, Kati Grostefon, agreed, adding that the benefit of having access to such resources is beyond measure. “Going to a working firm was invaluable to me. We were able to ask architects questions, see what they do every day and see what they’ve done to date,” she said.


“An important goal for the trip was to connect students to important alumni role models, including owners of firms, interior designers, architects, recent graduates, alumni working for non-profits and even the state’s commissioner of general services,” said professor of Architecture, Marleen Davis.

In addition to connecting first-year students with some of Nashville’s successful designers, the trip allowed students to tour sites they may not be able to see on their own. Over the course of 10 hours, the 90 design students explored the capital city, diagraming urban spaces, imagining more efficient infrastructure and examining Nashville’s architectural curiosities. Armed with sketchbooks and cameras, the students toured the Bridge Building, Tennessee Tower, the State Capitol building and the Frist Museum, to name a few.

Of particular interest was the Nashville Civic Design Center.

“It was important to us that the students visit and learn about the Nashville Civic Design Center, a partner of the College of Architecture and Design,” said Davis. Since its opening in 2000, the college has collaborated with NCDC to coordinate studies and programs that allow students to study urban architecture in Nashville.

While touring NCDC, students learned about its plans to transform Nashville. “The goals that the Nashville Civic Design Center has for the city are goals that can be applied to many spaces,” Grostefon said. “When we heard the plan for the future of Nashville, I was able to learn how I should be thinking as a future architect.”

Students and faculty, alike, consider the trip a great success in giving first-year students the unique experience of exploring a major city not as residents or tourists but as designers.

First-Year Students Visit Nashville 2016

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