Cummins Station Community Garden

Program Summary:

The Cummins Station Community Garden is an approximately 10,000 sq. ft. outdoor amenity serving a 400,000 sq. ft. office building in downtown Nashville.

Program Statement:

Smith Gee Studio had spent 18 months sketching ideas for a community amenity at the 400,000 s.f. Cummins Station office building when owner, DZL Management announced that the project would happen and needed to be completed in six months, in time for the Chief Manager’s wedding.  SGS quickly finalized the design while a local contractor worked to begin construction.  A trip with the client to New York City to observe the High Line linear park and to visit furniture and lighting installations proved to be inspirational.  Days before the wedding, the final touches and punch lists were being completed.

The Community Garden transforms a defunct loading dock into a luxurious outdoor amenity. It is situated in a narrow space between Cummins Station, a historical industrial warehouse-turned commercial office building, and downtown Nashville’s thriving Gulch neighborhood. The space once accommodated freight trains and sat vacant for many years, but now hosts a wide spectrum of uses ranging from impromptu business meetings and casual lunch conversations to corporate events, concerts and wedding receptions.

The linear urban garden is subtly divided into three zones: the Track 13 platform and art gallery, the Lawn, and the Grove. A dynamic relationship exists between the artificial and the natural, the planned and the experienced, the temporary and the permanent as the garden space oscillates between its parts and the fluid unity of the whole. The thread of continuity that links these parts together is the central free-standing fence structure that defines the Garden’s edge. A palette of Swisspearl panels is fastened to the fence’s 375 feet-long steel frame. The black, white and grey pattern emerges as an abstract mosaic greater than the sum of its parts as the distinctly horizontal design evokes the memory and movement of the locomotives that once rolled through the site.

At night the fence becomes a glowing ambient light source for the garden, creating a dramatic affect that sets the mood for elegant evening events.  Hidden away, the LED lighting allows the fence to be a consistent light source across the entire garden.  This ambient glow is complemented by highlights of LED lighting at numerous platforms and benches which appear to float above the lawn.

The transformation of the space from eyesore to exquisite simultaneously respects the past while looking towards the future. The Community Garden leverages forward the client’s continuous investment and interest in revitalizing the LEED ND-certified Cummins Station campus. It grants new dignity to what was a derelict urban space and since opening has attracted high-rent tenants to spaces that overlook this inspiring amenity.

“As the owner of over 400,000 s.f. of office and retail space in downtown Nashville, I have come to rely on Smith Gee Studio for all of my facility planning and design needs.  They are responsive, creative and provide a high level of professional service that is difficult to match.”  

– Zach Liff, Chief Manager
DZL Management