Ascend Amphitheater

Program Summary:

As part of downtown Nashville’s West Riverfront Park, the new 7,000 patron amphitheater is designed as a world-class music venue — a new icon for Music City — and to function as part of a 12-acre park on off-performance days.

Program Statement:

Following the recommendations of our South of Broadway Strategic Master Plan, the City of Nashville asked our team, including UDA, Hawkins Partners and other consultants, to develop concepts for a 12-acre park with an outdoor music venue along the banks of the Cumberland River.  Working with nationally recognized acoustic and theater designers, we prepared a program and initial conceptual designs for the project in order to provide the city with preliminary cost estimates.  Soon after, Mayor Karl Dean announced his goal of completing the park and amphitheater project by July, 2015.

The city selected a complete team led by Hawkins Partners and including Smith Gee Studio to further the design and construction documents in a short timeframe.  Smith Gee Studio teamed with Los Angeles architects Hodgetts & Fung (H+F) who designed the reconstruction and modernization of the Hollywood Bowl.

The Mayor defined three goals for the amphitheater project:  1) It must be “Park First”, meaning the amphitheater shall be designed so as to help optimize the park space and minimize its impact on the park.  2)  It must be a world-class music venue, as Music City demands such.  3) It must be designed to be iconic for Nashville, symbolizing our culture and history and celebrating our brand.

As Architect of Record, Smith Gee Studio worked collaboratively with Hodgetts + Fung and a team of renowned theater and acoustic consultants on the architectural design for the new 35,000 s.f., 7,000-patron theater in downtown Nashville. It includes back-of -house facilities and ancillary buildings suitable for a world-class commercial venue.

The amphitheater is located to optimize the use of the site as a park and is designed to be open to the public year round on non-performance days. The 100-foot span is open on both sides to offer a transparent view to the skyline and a dramatic backdrop for performances.

Inspired by historic stone and steel river structures and lines reminiscent of vintage amplifiers and instruments, the project will serve as a symbolic icon for Music City.