"What is the city but the people?"

William Shakespeare
Coriolanus 3.1.99

The validity of the Plan of Nashville, and its eventual success, hinge on the accepptance of community-based planning assisted by professional design expertise. This process produces principles and goals developed by, and reflective of, the will of the people at large. These principles serve as the guidelines for future development proposals--for example, a new elementary school or convention center.

Four-Stage Process:

  1. Research by design professionals, planners, and historians on Nashville's history, culture, and prior planning led to a better understanding of why the city looks and works the way it does today.
  2. Citizens identified current concerns and priorities in the neighborhoods, in the city, and in the region.
  3. The community's aspirations and ambitions for the city directed the development of the principles and goals of the Plan.
  4. A team of design professionals--particularly the staff of the Nashville Civic Design Center--assisted by writers and editors, formulated the Plan of Nashville as the embodiment and amplification of the three prior stages.


The work was organized into five phases:

  1. Research & Analysis (June -- December 2002)
  2. Community Visioning (October 2002 -- May 2003)
  3. Synthesis of the Plan of Nashville (March -- September 2003)
  4. Production (September 2003 -- May 2004)
  5. Book Preparation (May -- October 2004)

Downloads & Links

Planning for the Future: A Handbook on Community Visioning (3rd ed.)

The purpose of this handbook is to help communities like yours begin thinking and planning for the future. It is not, however a cookbook on community visioning. Every community in Pennsylvania is so unique, so it must develop its own vision and plan for the future. On the other hand, many of the same principles and activities that are included in the process may be useful to many communities. To help communities find that common ground and allow them the freedom to decide what their plans might include, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania designed this handbook to focus on the process of visioning, not the outcome. This guide is divided into the following sections:

What is Community Visioning
How to Create a Vision for the Future
Elements of Success
Nuts-and-Bolts of Visioning
Lessons Learned

The guide also includes a list of recommended readings, a list of federal, state, and private resources that can be used to help implement different parts of your community vision, and sample project material.

Visit the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's website to download the handbook Planning for the Future.


During the Building Consensus Workshop (Nashville Convention Center, April 12, 2003) the participants developed agreement on the principles of the Plan and consolidated the vision for Nashville. More than 250 people attended the Saturday morning session. An extensive electronic survey was developed and conducted in consultation with Betina Finley, President of TurnKey Video and New Media in Seattle. The eighty-two questions in ten categories established the demographics of hte participants and then asked their opinions on issues related to the Cumberland River, cultural attractions, the natural and built environment, neighborhoods, transportation infrastructure, economic development, housing, urban design and education.

The initial survey was then augmented by an online survey to which an additional three hundred citizens responded. The information derived from the survey was used by NCDC staff and design team leaders to finalize the Plan's goals and principles, which were in turn used to produce the design of the Plan.

Recent Projects

A New East Bank Neighborhood in Nashville Preview

A New East Bank Neighborhood in Nashville

During the Spring 2016 Semester, The Greater Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) requested the fourth year undergraduate Nashville Urban Design Studio to explore a proposal for a “New East Bank Neighborhood in Nashville.” The site is on the Cumberland River, just across from Downtown Nashville’s skyline. At the present time, despite its proximate location, it is an industrial wasteland: what urban theorist Alan Berger terms a Drosscape. The site is inherently bounded and constrained by the CSX mainline railroad embankment to the north, the elevated embankment of the I-65 interstate highway to the east, the Woodland Street embankment and extensive football stadium parking lots to the south, and the Cumberland River to the west. Nonetheless, with downtown Nashville’s extraordinary building boom ongoing, with no end in sight, this 55-acre location would seem ripe for urban redevelopment.

Having made proposals to redevelop “Spaghetti Junction” in 2012, once again studio faculty member T. K. Davis provided his students with a street and block urban design plan, asking them to develop the program and design of blocks as urban architecture, providing public spatial definition and spatial activation as places. “Spaghetti Junction” is a comparable size multi-block area aligned with the Eastgate site, but on the immediate other side of the interstate.

Neighborhood Assessment Toolkit

Neighborhood Assessment Toolkit

A continuation of both The Plan of Nashville and Shaping the Healthy Community: The Nashville Plan, the Neighborhood Assessment Toolkit is an assessment and development scoring tool intended for local and community associations when engaging new development. The Toolkit is comprised of neighborhood and parcel assessment resources, along with a development scorecard based on the 10 Principles of the Plan of Nashville.

Placemaking: Challenges + Opportunities in Metro Nashville Preview

Placemaking: Challenges + Opportunities in Metro Nashville

The Project for Public Spaces, on their organization’s web site, asks “what if we built our communities around places?” They then go on to define Placemaking as “both an overarching idea and a hands-on approach for improving a neighborhood, city, or region, Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community.  Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, Placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value.  More than just promoting better urban design, Placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.”

Each team asked the questions “could the spaces proposed improve pedestrian, bicycle, and street connectivity?  Could they maintain and/or strengthen street and/or bike and pedestrian connections depending on the site?”  The intent was to promote walkable, bike-friendly environments and access to transit, with particular attention to providing connections between the proposed spaces and surrounding neighborhoods.

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