A Vision For An Amazon HQ2

A Vision For An Amazon HQ2

In summer 2018, students from the University of Tennessee School of Architecture and School of Interior Architecture will embark on the annual Nashville Urban Design Studio led by Professor Thomas K. Davis.  Headquartered each summer in the NCDC offices, the studio will investigate several challenges to Nashville’s east bank.


A national poll on Streetsblog recently named Nashville as having the third worst “parking crater” in a North American downtown, from a field of 32 nominees.  This references the vast parking lots surrounding the football stadium, which remain virtually unused during workdays.  The situation is only exacerbated by the PSC Metals site to the south of the stadium, and the drosscape to the north.  Given their proximity to the interstate loop, these are high visibility, accessible sites.

Concurrently, Nashville is on the Amazon HQ2 list of 20 cities under consideration.  We will assume the football stadium can provide shared parking as an inducement to new development, and that the PSC Metals site might be acquired for new development, as well as the area to the underbuilt areas north between Woodland Avenue and the CSX Railroad line.  Strategies for flood mitigation will be proposed, and the number of football parking spaces will be maintained, including extensive tailgating areas.

We will assume that building another football stadium should not and will not occur on this site, but rather the existing stadium will be subject to periodic upgrades, as has occurred at Nyland Stadium since 1921.

While the chances of Amazon HQ2 coming to Nashville is nominally one in twenty, Apple is believed to also be looking, more quietly, for a second headquarters location, as will numerous other corporate entities in the coming decades.  The strategies and tactics we uncover will have application to a wide range of development opportunities at these locations within downtown.

Christopher Leinberger at the Brookings Institute advocates creating walkable, mixed-use, incremental, midrise “catalytic development” to meet the wants and needs of our collaborative knowledge economy.

This will be the premise of our studio.

Twelve Issue Challenges:

  1. How do we define and then design a “walkable, mixed-use, incremental, midrise catalytic ‘development’ as a “mini-city” and critical urbanism on Nashville’s East Bank?
  2. How can we develop the site to meet Amazon’s stated short and long range wants and needs?
  3. How can we design such that the concepts, strategies and tactics invented for an Amazon HQ2 mini-city would have full currency in the event that no mega-corporate entity like Amazon comes to the East Bank, but rather incremental development of smaller entities spark development over coming decades?
  4. How can we design to achieve Amazon’s Request for Proposals’ stated wants and needs with a ‘consistent and progressive imagery’ seen from Nashville’s skyline, east riverbank, and the interstate loop, as well as from a blimp on Monday Night Football television?
  5. How can we maximize connectivity to and recreational use of the riverfront?
  6. How can we maintain the football stadium parking requirements (including tailgating) through the design of shared parking as an economic inducement to development, as well as provide adequate new residential parking?
  7. How can we phase development over Amazon’s timeline for development?
  8. How can we design new structured parking that is convertible to other uses, given the uncertain future and implications of autonomous vehicles?
  9. How can we facilitate vehicular improvements to accessibility from the interstate loop to new development on the East Bank Nashville’s existing and future development on the west side of the Cumberland?
  10. How can we design a transit plan for multi-modal connections between new development on the East Bank and Nashville’s existing and future development to the west side of the Cumberland River?
  11. How can we design to achieve Net Zero 2030?
  12. How can we design to accommodate the uncertainties of the future and the inevitable vicissitudes of the real estate market place?

Related Links:

Icahn's company plotting move from coveted riverbank property

NCDC's Designing Action Competition Publication