When people think of Nashville, they think of music. But more than that, Nashville, Tennessee is a land of opportunities. Since the very beginning, it has always been a strategic location for the hustle and bustle of commerce, both as a port on the Cumberland River and then later as a railroad center. Apart from being the one and only Music City, housing the best of country music, Nashville is a major center for big industries like healthcare, publishing, banking, automotive, and many more. It’s a city teeming with life and has been aptly named one of the five best U.S. destinations to visit this 2021, particularly for being a beautiful city perfect for music lovers.
If you’re looking to build a business in the area, we’ve gathered a list of the best commercial architects in Nashville, Tennessee. This list was curated based on the firms’ best projects, their design process, and their recognition in the field.
225 Polk Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203
For 36 years, award-winning firm HASTINGS Architecture has been deeply committed to design and to its community. In this endeavor, its passionate and creative team of professionals has always strived to create designs that are most impactful to its clients.
HASTINGS’ work is intentionally diverse in scale, type, and style as a product of the successful manifestation of creative thinking combined with the focused needs of each project. Each project the firm works on engages its occupants and positively impacts the community and surrounding environment both with its visual appeal and thoughtful, sustainable design.
The firm’s fantastic work and progressive work culture have also earned it spots in publications like the Journal of the American Institute of Architects, Architect naming them #3 Overall, #7 in Design, #10 in Business, and #35 in Sustainability on their annual ARCHITECT 50 ranking in 2019. Hasting is also the 2021 Winner of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, the 2020 Design Award of Excellence, and the 2020 Emerging Professional Friendly Firm from AIA Tennessee, among many others.
Tuck-Hinton Architecture & Design
508 Houston St., Nashville, TN 37203
Since 1984, Tuck-Hinton Architecture & Design has been creating buildings that stand the test of time. Each building is carefully crafted to reflect each client’s unique personality and positively impact its surroundings.
The firm was founded by Kem Hinton, FAIA, LEED AP, and Sean Tuck FAIA. They established the firm to explore the many possibilities of symbolism in design. Both founding principals have rich, extensive experience that has earned the firm its position as one of the most highly respected design studios in the region. The firm’s current principal and owner, Mary Roskilly, AIA, has a background in architecture from the University of Cincinnati and is deeply committed to using her creativity to help shape and improve her surroundings. Since joining the firm in 1994, she has been involved in several prestigious projects that made their mark on Nashville such as the Music City Center, Country Music Hall of Fame, Frist Art Museum, and the Tennessee Bicentennial Capitol Mall. Moreover, she was also named as one of 2019’s Women of Influence as well as the part of 2018’s Most Admired CEO list by the Nashville Business Journal.
The firm’s excellent team gives the firm its solid ground in being one of the best in Tennessee, as exemplified by its awards such as the 2017 Excellence in Development for both the Public/Non-Profit Sector and the Private Sector from the Urban Land Institute’s Nashville District Council, in both Small and Large Projects respectively. Moreover, Tuck-Hinton Architecture & Design is accredited by the AIA, LEED AP, and the Civic Design Center in Nashville and has been featured in a myriad of publications like the Tennessean, Nashville Business Journal, Main Street Nashville, just to name a few.
One of Tuck-Hinton’s best works is the Country Music Association Headquarters in Nashville. It’s a stylish, modern building that houses the best of country music in Nashville, and it reflects on just how gorgeous the building is, with its sleek wooden accents and beautiful sprawling layout.
Manuel Zeitlin Architects
516 Hagan Street Suite 100, Nashville, TN 37203
Boasting a diverse portfolio, Manuel Zeitlin Architects is a firm that has the ability to devise architectural solutions that are both proven and unexpected. With this, it seeks out projects that push the team’s abilities as creative problem solvers while creating impactful, meaningful designs.
Manuel Zeitlen, AIA, LEED AP established the firm way back in 1981 and has a wide range of experience in all things architecture. He was the past Chairman of the Interior Design Department at O’More College of Design and the former Commissioner of the Franklin Historic District Commission. Moreover, he is also certified with the NCARB, an AIA member, and has received LEED AP from the U.S. Green Building Council.
This proven experience is backed by the firm’s numerous awards, such as the 2019 Citation Award from the AIA Middle Tennessee, the 2019 Preservation Award from the Metro Nashville Historic Commission, and the 2016 Excellence in Development Award from the Urban Land Institute. Manuel Zeitlin Architects’ work has been featured in numerous publications as well, like in the Retrofit Magazine, Mississippi State, The Ledger, and many more.
An example of Manuel Zeitlin Architects’ work is the Thirty Tigers pictured here. It is a renovation of an 11,000-square-foot metal warehouse, turned into a rustic/modern office space for the music management firm, Thirty Tigers.
1033 Demonbreun Street Suite 800, Nashville, TN 37203
Since its inception 50 years ago, ESa has been providing design services ranging from architecture, interior architecture, master planning, to space planning. ESa has served clients globally in all manner of fields like healthcare, hospitality, education, corporate office, and senior living industries, and even community projects, and the arts.
The firm’s principal, J. Todd Robinson, FAIA, EDAC, graduated from the University of Tennessee with honors and throughout his life, he has always enjoyed developing great relationships, both personal and professional. In 2014, Nashville Business Journal named him a “Health Care Hero” for his stellar work, inspired by his early passion for healthcare design stemming from his own experiences with his mother’s passing due to terminal illness. This passion inspires him to make a difference in people’s lives through meaningful design. He is most proud of creating spaces that not only make clients successful but also promote healing and humanity.
ESa’s great work has been awarded the 2017 Honor Award from the AIA Middle Tennessee, 2017 IMPACT Tennessee from USGBC, and the 2017 Excellence in Development from the Urban Land Institute. It is also certified with the AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, IIDA, and EDAC. Some of its great projects have also been featured in the Nashville Post and the Tennessean.
An example of ESa’s work and values is exemplified by its office at Gulch Crossing, pictured here. The office was a more efficient workspace compared to the team’s old setup and the 50,000 square feet and two-floor office serves as a testament to the firm’s values of drive, loyalty, attitude, and humility. It takes full advantage of the city’s skyline with its welcoming lobby and huge windows and even has a plaza that acts as the firm’s family room. The building is LEED Platinum and the open-office layout utilizes 75 percent of the floor space.
Smith Gee Studio
602 Taylor Street Suite #201, Nashville, TN 37208
Smith Gee Studio owes its success to its top three principles: Collaboration, Community, and of course, Exceptional Design. In everything the firm does — from its projects to the very culture of the company — the team has a passion for making better spaces to live, work, and play.
The firm is led by four partners – Fleming Smith III, Hunter Gee, Dallas Caudle III, and Greg Tidwell. All of them have a combined experience in design, architecture, planning, and development that spans decades. Smith Gee Studio has a rich multidisciplinary depth that allows the team to take all aspects of the built environment into account from city and neighborhood planning to architectural and interior design. In every project, the client’s goals are Smith Gee Studio’s goals as well. In that endeavor, the team listens carefully to understand each individual need to successfully deliver each project.
This client-focused care, with emphasis on completing projects on time and within budget, has not gone unnoticed. Smith Gee Studio has been awarded several distinctions including the EP Friendly Firm Award from AIA Tennessee every year since its inception, and for projects several local, regional, national, and even international awards for their design efforts. The firm has been featured numerous times in publications like the Nashville Business Journal and the Nashville Post.
A great example of Smith Gee Studio’s work is the 5th & Taylor Restaurant pictured here. It was once a 1950s warehouse building that SGS adapted into a beautiful open retail space, artfully blending the old with the new while keeping the historical integrity of the site. The building is now used as a retail + office space for 5th and Taylor, one of Germantown’s highly respected restaurants, and The Back Corner, one of Nashville’s premiere clubs and mid-size event space.
Dryden Architecture and Design
2520 White Avenue, Nashville, TN 37204
Dryden Architecture and Design boasts a wide range of projects under its sleeve, ranging from neighborhood master plans, mixed-use developments, adaptive reuse projects, private residences, and many more. In its two decades of experience, it has always set its focus on projects that have a significant impact on the neighborhood it serves, by helping contribute to the healthy flora of the communities and adding a valuable new asset to the surroundings.
What sets Dryden Architecture and Design apart is not its adherence to a stylistic ideology but rather, it operates based on a careful analysis of the project site and the client. This thoughtful firm is headed by Nick Dryden, AIA, who received his Bachelor’s in Architecture from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and has been handling the reins of Dryden since 2001 in addition to being part of the 2019 Board of Directors for AIA Middle Tennessee. Through experience, the firm has a keen process of handling multi-layered complex issues in every project and employs a hands-on approach to each detail.
Dryden Architecture and Design is accredited with the AIA and the NCARB and has been featured in many publications like the Tennessean, NFocus Magazine, Nashville Post, Metropolis Magazine, New York Times, Nashville Business Journal, and Build Direct. An example of their project would be Martin’s BBQ pictured here. It’s a lovely green space located in the heart of downtown Nashville and with the way it’s built, it serves as a space for the community. The original brick building was home to The Rutledge Room and was renovated and expanded to house a full-service restaurant, two private dining rooms, and a large indoor/outdoor backyard beer garden.
Studio 8 Design
56 Lindsley Avenue, Nashville, TN 37210
Founded in 2005, Studio 8 Design has a focus on bringing creative and responsible design to every project. The team believes that good design should be the goal with everything, be it a large or small project, regardless of budget. When it comes to design, rather than specializing in one building type, it looks for the unique character of each project and brings this to the forefront.
The firm was founded by Matt Taylor, AIA, LEED AP. His passion for urban design and planning and his commitment to his community have earned him a diverse portfolio and numerous civic board positions. He has always been an advocate for responsible design and enjoys exploring smart planning projects, and thus founded Studio 8 Design to create imaginative and intentional design ideas.
Studio Design is certified with the AIA, LEED AP, and USGBC and is a recipient of two awards at the 2019 Preservation Awards by the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County for Preservation through Rehabilitation (Commercial) and Excellence in Craftsmanship for the 231 Public Square Building. Its great work can be seen in publications like the Nashville Post and DMagazine.
Taken from Studio 8’s portfolio is the beautiful Noelle Hotel in Nashville. The historic building was used for many years as an office building and the owners wanted to turn it into a boutique hotel with spacious rooms and great quality amenities. Studio 8 was given the task to design and develop the exterior shell of the modern addition to the old building. The result was a great blend and contrast against the old and the new that gives this building its distinctive edge in Nashville’s downtown.
35 Peabody St. UNIT 305, Nashville, TN 37210
Dating back to 1995, Centric Architecture has a long tradition of a pioneering spirit in middle Tennessee as one of the oldest architecture firms in the area. It is proud to be associated with both the old and the new, as seen in its diverse portfolio consisting of a healthy blend of historic preservation, creative adaptive reuse, and stunning new designs.
The firm’s 60 years of experience has given rise to many successful projects across a spectrum of project types. It houses a young leadership with a young staff, ready to provide innovative design solutions anchored on timeless practices. The firm is led by David Plummer, LEED AP, and Gina Emmanuel, LEED AP. David has a background in both construction and art and has a diverse set of project experience, from residential remodels to building a tunnel under the state capitol. Gina is a well-rounded architect that sees design as a whole art in itself while providing clients a skillful project execution and management. She serves on the NAIOP Board, Housing Trust Fund Commission, and The Catholic Charities board, and in past stints with the board of the USGBC.
Centric Architecture is certified with the AIA, USGBC, and the NAIOP and is a recipient of the 2021 People’s Choice Award from AIA Middle Tennessee and the 2020 Honor Award also from AIA Middle Tennessee. Centric has also earned spots in the Nashville Post, Forbes, and Architect. One example of its stunning work would be the one done with Force X, a company that develops surveillance software for military aircraft. Force X hired Centric Architecture to design an engaging, hip, and industrial-modern workplace, perfect for the best people in tech in the country. The building features spaces called “scrum pods”, a large central gathering area, and a technically advanced Software Integration Lab.
2606 Eugenia Avenue Suite C, Nashville, TN 37211
Carlton-Edwards is a firm dedicated to creating thoughtful architecture. Through a blending of excellent design solutions, environmentally sustainable building practices, site sensitivity, and commitment to exceptional craftsmanship, it manages to create buildings that have unsurpassed quality — and all that delivered on time and within budget.
The firm was founded by Rob Carlton, AIA who began his career in architecture back in the mid-1990s after graduating from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. After working with large firms in the area, Rob established a progressive architectural firm, focused on redefining the notion of Appalachian mountain architecture that is both relevant and timeless. He is joined by Matt Zink, AIA, in the Nashville studio who brings to the table a diverse background of project types that broaden the range of Carlton-Edwards.
Carlton-Edwards is certified with the AIA and LEED AP and its projects have been featured in both the 2019 Residential Design Magazine and the 2018 WNC Magazine. One notable project would be the Virago project, the third installment and relocation destination by M Street Entertainment. As a mix of contemporary Japanese and Asian-inspired dining, Virago is a modern venue with atmospheric hideaways of Tokyo’s compelling dining arenas. The inspiration was to create an underground, discreet, barely-lit, design-driven space that had dynamic lighting, creating an air of elegance and mystery.
Gilbert McLaughlin Casella Architects
2305 Kline Avenue Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37211
Gilbert McLaughlin Casella Architects is a Professional Limited Liability Company with a broad range of project experience, covering many different project types. The firm was founded by Steve Gilbert and Kent McLaughlin in 1996 with Jeff Casella as their first employee before becoming a principal in 2006. Together, they strive to pursue the highest level of quality for all aspects of design and customer service, and they have a combined experience in master planning, site evaluation, and programming, all of which provide the consistency needed to create a smooth and economically rewarding process.
Gilbert McLaughlin Casella Architects is certified with the USGBC and is the recipient of many awards including the 2018 Excellence in Development from the Urban Land Institute, the 2013 Award of Merit from AIA Middle Tennessee, and the 2013 Excellence in Development from the Urban Land Institute among others. One example of their work is the Emma project at The Trolley Barns. Emma is an online mass marketing media company and the firm was hired to create this stunning office space, perfect for collaboration. It was designed to create a flexible work environment that allows for individual tasks and teamwork. In this project, great mindfulness was applied so that the design would not alter the historic nature of the buildings.