Frederic Schwartz Architects

SHELBY STREET BRIDGE

Nashville, Tennessee
2003

2005 Tennessee AIA Honor Excellence Award

Shelby Street Bridge

Slated for demolition, the preservation of the historic Shelby Street Bridge provides a new and vital link in Nashville. As one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world it provides an important new recreational and transit corridor, and a popular destination. Its dramatic new lighting has created an instant icon for the City and a beloved place for an evening stroll. The design is a collaborative effort between the City of Nashville, the Nashville Civic Design Center and a team of architects, urban designers and lighting designers.

The lighting design reinforces the renewed sense of vitality and optimism in the Shelby Street Bridge as the most visible and new pedestrian link in Nashville. The implementation of this design (including 737 new fixtures) literally brings to light the positive results of place making in the city and the celebration of a historic urban infrastructure.

The Shelby Street Bridge, built 1907-1909, is on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance as one of Nashville's best examples of modern technology and engineering at the turn of the century, especially its bridge trusses made of reinforced concrete. Almost one hundred years later, in poor condition, the bridge faced an uncertain future. Public sentiment to preserve its place in Nashville history, its valuable connection between East Nashville and downtown, and spectacular skyline views inspired a new use.

The conversion of the Shelby Street Bridge from cars into a pedestrian use is symbolic as well as practical. As the major new pedestrian link between East Nashville and Downtown it symbolizes the beginning of a shift in the way Nashville will be developed. It suggests a shift from the development of the large scale, single projects of the past and the building of new neighborhoods in the future. The lightning of the bridge celebrates the Nashville, the Cumberland River and its historic infrastructure.

   
   

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