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Nashville Urban Design Studio
- Location: Based at Nashville Civic Design Center, Nashville, Tennessee
- Length: Summer (comprised of two sessions, May-July, July-August)
- When: Fourth or fifth year (undergraduate Architecture); Level Three (Track Two or Three graduate Architecture students)
- Who: Students in Architecture, Interior Architecture and Landscape Architecture
- Credits: 12 total for both sessions; 6/session
- Classes: A two-course sequence comprising Summer Session One and Two: ARC 483/583 Urban Design (or ARC 571 Urban Context Studio) and ARC 493/593 Directed Research; these courses will address an urban design problem responding specifically to Greater Nashville, with exploration of urban issues in understanding and making the architecture of the city
- Estimated costs: Regular in-state or out-of-state tuition; graduate rates might be higher; students arrange their own housing and meals; see details below
The Nashville Urban Design Summer Studio held at NCDC occurs in collaboration with Vanderbilt University and has been led by Prof. T.K. Davis since 2011. Some recent projects of the 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-abroad requirement for the School of Architecture.
About the Program
A two-course sequence comprising Summer Session One and Two: ARC 483/583 Urban Design (or ARC 571 Urban Context Studio) and ARC 493/593 Directed Research will be taught over a 12-week period from May-August. Each session constitutes six credit hours, with the urban design course counting as vertical design studio credit. You are encouraged to enroll in both sequential sessions for a total of 12 credit hours, but students may elect to take one course alone.
The Nashville Urban Design Program will use Metropolitan Nashville and Middle Tennessee as a laboratory to visit and experience the issues and opportunities confronting the region, including examples of its most interesting historic and contemporary architecture and public spaces.
The program is targeted for undergraduate Architecture students rising into their fourth or fifth year or Track Two or Three graduate Architecture students rising into either semester of their Level Three curriculum, subject to the director of the graduate program’s advanced approval. Students enrolled in Landscape Architecture or Interior Architecture may apply for enrollment, subject to the advanced approval of their respective program’s leadership.
- Summer Session One will be comprised of students enrolled in ARC 483/583 Urban Design Vertical Studio, ARC 571 Urban Context Studio, or ARC 573 Urban Design Vertical Studio. These courses will address an urban design problem responding specifically to Greater Nashville, with exploration of urban issues in understanding and making the architecture of the city. Student investigations will analyze cultural, physical and environmental influences and precedents of community on architectural form, space and structure in the civic realm.
- Summer Session Two will be ARC 493/593 Directed Research. This course involves sponsorship of the faculty member, with each student working on a specific topic or project related to that faculty member’s area of expertise, research, scholarship or creative activity. This course is not available for design credit in the required undergraduate or graduate curricula.
- The Directed Research course produces a multi-page, full-color book documenting the problem challenge, research, precedent studies, design projects and summary conclusions. The work also might be the subject of an exhibit at the NCDC in the following fall.
Students will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own housing. In the past, students have often been from families in Middle Tennessee, staying at home and commuting in each day for the 9;00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. program. Other students have readily found sublets from students at one of the eight university or college programs in the area. In addition, an excellent residential dormitory is available at the Scarritt-Bennett Center, adjacent to the Vanderbilt campus, and located on a major, direct bus ride of two miles into the NCDC.
Overnight Field Trip
One of the highlights of the summer program is an overnight field trip to Columbus, Indiana, long considered a mecca of modern architecture and landscape architecture in North America. Modest expenses associated with this trip are not included in the program’s tuition.
The Nashville Civic Design Center
Thomas K. (T.K.) Davis is the former design director at NCDC from 2004-2008. From contacts made during this experience, he is able to draw on a broad range of distinguished public officials, architects, planners and developers from Nashville and Middle Tennessee during pin-up design reviews and workshops.
Founded in 2000, the Nashville Civic Design Center is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to elevate the quality of Nashville’s build environment and to promote public participation in the creation of a more beautiful and functional city for all. Towards this end, NCDC promotes the Ten Principles and related goals of The Plan of Nashville, a vision for growth and development, created and endorsed by citizens of Nashville. NCDC also provides an intensive learning environment for summer interns from its partners, the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University, as well as other national and international programs engaged in urbanism.
Nashville is an energetic cultural environment in which to study architecture and urbanism. Much of its cultural life derives from its qualities as a “creative class” city, in some measure generated by the music industry but also including a robust visual arts presence.
Thanks to Nashville Public Radio for some of the photos on this page.