April 26, 2019 Students Design New Master Plans for TSU

Our programs challenge students to not only design innovative and forward-thinking projects, but also, we urge our students to be civically engaged, designing with the community and changing urban environment in mind.

This spring, students in the School of Architecture worked with Nashville Civic Design Center to design a new master plan for Tennessee State University’s Avon Williams campus in downtown Nashville.

Best TSU Final Designs

Led by Professor Thomas K. Davis, pairs of students created comprehensive site designs to better knit the campus into the surrounding downtown environment. Their designs included plans for a main entrance along Charlotte Avenue, the main strip that links the campus to downtown, as well as housing, retail, parking and green space.

“We asked for a range of options from the students of what this campus could look like, and we received everything from practical options to the cutting edge,” explained Dr. Ken Chilton, Associate Professor of Public Administration at TSU.

The students visited the site and met with TSU officials throughout the semester to better understand the needs of the university. Currently, the Avon Williams campus has two small mixed-use buildings that house undergraduate and professional programs in addition to a library, bookstore and dining locations.

But with Nashville being the 7th fastest-growing city in America, its urban landscape is constantly changing to account for new development and influx of residents. The students’ work is timely, as Amazon is working to build an operations center, called “Nashville Yards,” just south of TSU’s campus, bringing 5,000 additional employees to the area every day.

Students presenting at TSU

The design by Jack Ebbert, a 5th-year student, and Alex Goedhart, a 4th-year student, features two buildings that frame an elevated quadrangle and a pedestrian bridge, creating more green space and improving circulation between adjacent buildings and spaces.

“The Nashville Yards project will change and open doors for businesses to feed off each other’s success,” explains Ebbert and Goedhart. “We centered our idea for TSU on creating a green space that Nashville desperately needs while also positively influencing the circulation, population, innovation and economic cultivation of the area.”

Students presenting at TSU

Two 4th-year students, Breanna Williams and Nadin Jabri, created a master plan that explores the concepts of discovery, path and exhibition through several forms and open space.

“We created a path to connect the campus to Union Street, the new Amazon tower and North Gulch, hoping to create energy and collaboration between TSU and the new developments, such as Nashville Yards,” explains Williams and Jabri.

Other student designs included plans for an early learning center, a maker space, culinary center, grocery stores and cafés.

All of the student groups presented their final designs to a panel of guest reviewers at TSU, including professionals from the university, Hasting Architecture Associates, NCDC, Nashville Metro Planning Department and Gresham Smith and Partners.

“The quality of the work the students produced was so good, and we want to use it to spark a larger dialogue between the private sector and the TSU administration,” explains Chilton. “Our hope is that a new campus design will allow TSU to fit into the broader picture of Nashville and make a mark on the downtown area.”

Founded in 1912, TSU is a public university encompassing 500 acres along the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. Designated as a “high research” institution, Tennessee State strives for excellence in programming, offerings and community engagement. Learn more about Tennessee State University.

Read more about our students’ work in Nashville.

Learn more about our college’s long-standing partnership with NCDC.