Civic Design Center Civic Engagement and Design Studio

We have a long-standing partnership with the Civic Design Center in Nashville, which offers our students studio and internship opportunities, off-campus study experience, hands-on engagement with community members and real-world design experience.


Urban Design Studio

Our students have been engaged with the city of Nashville and the Design Center for more than 20 years. We’ve designed, reimagined and researched multiple areas of the city, presented our ideas to civic leaders and design professionals and participated in charrettes with area residents. Each year, about 36 students work on studio projects for the city.

Much of the students’ involvement comes through our Nashville Urban Design Summer Studio held at the center in collaboration with Vanderbilt University and led by Prof. T.K. Davis since 2011.

Some projects of the Nashville Urban Design Summer Studio include

  • Centennial Park Visitor Center
  • Micro-unit housing in Downtown Nashville
  • Adaptive reuse
  • Urban planning for a baseball stadium
  • Riverfront projects, including The Boathouse, which should soon break ground
  • An arts redevelopment district
  • Transit studies
  • Center for Sustainability
  • See more details about our students’ work

The studio allows students to engage in the urban design of Nashville and learn design skills through community engagement. Many choose the summer studio as their off-campus/study-aboard requirement for the School of Architecture.


Students address real urban architectural design issues in the state capital as they work alongside professionals in the Civic Design Center and distinguished alumni. They make valuable contributions to the future of the city.

T.K. Davis, Professor, Architecture


Our partnership with the Civic Design Center in Nashville means internship/fellowship opportunities for students. Over the years, more than 60 students have served as interns and fellows.


History + Mission

Emeritus Prof. Mark Schimmenti played a major role in founding the center, which was officially formed in 2000 as a non-profit organization whose mission is to elevate the quality of Nashville’s built environment and promote public participation in the creation of a more beautiful and functional city.

Prior to the Design Center’s founding, Schimmenti led the Urban Design Forum–a series of community classes and engagement sessions in Nashville. He later was named the center’s first design director, a role assumed by Prof. T.K. Davis from 2004-2008. Following Davis, Gary Gaston, a 1999 alumnus of our School of Architecture, was named design director and later became executive director. Today, Gaston serves as chief executive officer of Civic Design Center and assistant professor of practice in the college.

Learn more about the Civic Design Center’s programs.