The Nashville Civic Design Center is an independent nonprofit organization formed in 2000 to improve quality of life for Nashvillians through visionary thinking, partnerships that encourage high quality design, and the facilitation of public dialogue on key issues that impact how we live, work and play. The design center is known and respected for its ability to bring many diverse parties together and for facilitating proactive discussion to promote change. The center is not a regulatory institution. Rather, it advocates and supports the highest standards for contemporary community design. There have been three faculty members involved serving as Design Directors, and over 60 student interns and post-graduate fellows, with roughly 36 students per year working on studio projects. In addition, during the past 15 years approximately 400 citizens have enrolled in “Urban Design 101” continuing education courses.
Community Partners include Vanderbilt University, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency in Nashville, the Government of Metropolitan Nashville, the Frist Foundation, the Greater Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Metro Planning Department, Cumberland Region Tomorrow, the Urban Land Institute, the Nashville District Council, and the Greater Nashville Regional Council. University of Tennessee, Knoxville partners include the College of Architecture and Design and the School of Architecture.
Impact on UT
As of 2014, all undergrad architecture students are required to spend one off-campus semester, with the Nashville Civic Design Center serving as an option, in addition to overseas programs. For four years, UT coursework has in the past paired UT’s undergraduate architecture students with graduate students from Vanderbilt University’s Real Estate Development Program’s Capstone Course for joint project development. Faculty and students working at the Nashville Civic Design Center have produced two books and 25 published sponsored research reports on architecture, housing, policy, public art, sustainability and transit-oriented development. UT architecture studios working with the design center further three agendas: “to provide an intense service-learning experience for the students, to give the students an awareness of how the urban development process unfolds, and to contribute innovative ideas to the public discussion of civic design issues.” The design center also extends UT’s scholarly reach to Nashville, a city three hours from campus.
Impact on Community
The Nashville Civic Design Center, with its UT faculty design leadership, has played a direct role in numerous civic design projects undertaken within Greater Nashville. With the ten guiding principles from The Plan of Nashville as a basis, the center has facilitated key public meetings, and consulted on significant urban design projects for the city and the region, funded by the public sector. The civic design center works with government officials, regional planning groups, neighborhood organizations, businesses, and residents. The legacy of this partnership is the promotion of public education in the value of civic design, public participation in civic design, and public advocacy for civic design excellence.
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Nashville Civic Design Center, 615-248-4280
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