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VOL. 36 | NO. 45 | Friday, November 9, 2012

The big four: Midstate’s most iconic recent projects

By Linda Bryant

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Many dozens of notable buildings and developments have been designed and erected in recent years in Middle Tennessee. Many are regarded as stand-outs, even classic, iconic architectural achievements.

Area architects and engineers consistently mention the following four developments, citing them for their overall impact on the area and for the lasting influence they are continuing to have on building, design and lifestyle trends in Middle Tennessee.

n The Gulch: A 60-plus acre area just southwest of downtown Nashville that was transformed over a period of about five years from an underperforming industrial area to a mixed-use community with high-rise condos, apartments, restaurants, preserved buildings and retail businesses.

Marc Rowland of Thomas Miller & Partners says The Gulch should be a blueprint for future neighborhoods near the downtown core.

“What was done in The Gulch is a good starting point for anyone who wants to build a successful, mixed-use neighborhood,” Rowland says.

n Nissan corporate headquarters: Finished in 2008 as a part of Nissan North America’s relocation to Middle Tennessee from California, the $100 million, 10-story building in Cool Springs is a model of corporate environmental stewardship and smart design, many local architects say. The 100,000-square-foot building and grounds were also built in a way that preserved surrounding wetlands.

“Its impact can’t be underestimated,” says Dave Powell of Hastings Architecture. “It’s a great addition to Middle Tennessee.”

n 12South: Less than 10 years ago, 12South was a questionable street on the border between wealthy and scruffy neighborhoods. The growth started organically with a couple of retail businesses and a yoga studio. Then came a grassroots public participation process from residents and business owners and an infusion of capital funds from Metro to spiff up the area’s infrastructure and streetscaping. 12South is now considered among the region’s most desirable destination neighborhoods. Property values have skyrocketed, and the area is still growing at a clipped pace.

“It’s a model of neighborhood revitalization,” Powell says.

n Music City Center: The massive new convention center, still under construction and slated to open in late 2013, carries a hefty price tag, almost $600 million dollars. But its ripple effects will likely spur that much -- and more -- in new developments. New hotels have already signed on, and more are expected. A whole new entertainment district is predicted, as well as spillover growth to connecting neighborhoods.

“It’s a very large keynote building,” says Marc Rowland of Thomas Miller & Partners. “It’s definitely going to keep us on the map for a long time to come.”