Pittsburgh-based urban design company to lead SoBro study

Smith Gee Studio, Hawkins Partners among local firms developing plan

Urban Design Associates, a Pittsburgh-based urban design firm, will lead a team of local companies the Nashville Convention Center Authority has selected to assist in the development of the SoBro Strategic Master Plan, the authority announced Monday.

UDA has developed implementation-oriented plans and guidelines for downtowns and waterfronts in cities and regions throughout the United States and internationally. Examples of the company’s work can be found in Norfolk, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Toronto.

“This study is clearly needed, given the rapid development in SoBro spurred by the Music City Center and the effects on downtown businesses of the May 2010 flood,” Marty Dickens, chair of the Convention Center Authority, said in a release. “UDA brings solid relevant experience in similar areas across the country and our local team brings institutional history.”

UDA’s participatory process engages city political and business leadership, as well as the general public, in the creative process of design.

Local firms working with UDA include: 

• Smith Gee Studio, architecture
• Hawkins Partners, landscape architecture
• Civil Site Design Group, engineering
• Varallo Public Relations, public relations

The local team is joined by the Tennessee office of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a national traffic and construction firm, and The Eisen Group, a market analysis firm that has worked extensively with UDA.

In March, the Economic Development Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, awarded the Convention Center Authority of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County and the Nashville Downtown Partnership a grant of almost $400,000 for a study focusing on maximizing investments in the SoBro area and creating guidelines for development in flood prone areas.

Under UDA’s guidance, the planning team will hold a series of meetings this fall to gather input from community stakeholders.

UDA’s Barry J. Long says he expects his firm to complete the plan by late January 2013.