TPAC Announces Architecture Team for New Facility

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photo by Donna Vissman

Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) announces the selection of a global architecture team including the innovative and internationally acclaimed BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), the national award-winning performing arts architecture firm William Rawn Associates and the award-winning Nashville-based EOA Architects for the design of a new performance home.

The selection is a significant step toward relocation for the almost 50-year-old performing arts non-profit following recent approval by the Tennessee General Assembly of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s 2023-24 budget proposal for $200 million to support TPAC’s move from the State-owned James K. Polk Cultural Center. The State made an initial investment in 1974 to establish TPAC and construct its current facility as part of the James K. Polk State Office Building. After a comprehensive review of its real estate assets, the State has determined the building is antiquated and there is a higher and better use for the site.

Included with the $200 million commitment in the 2023-24 budget is the intent for TPAC to receive an additional $300 million in next year’s budget with a requirement of private philanthropic contributions to support the relocation. This $500 million total investment is based on the findings from a study conducted by the State and aligned with the estimated costs for repair and renovation of the existing facility. TPAC has begun to identify philanthropic leaders that wish to fund this visionary project with a 5:1 match and unlock the State grant.

Since presenting its first live performances in September 1980, TPAC has grown into an arts and culture leader attracting visitors from across the state and welcoming approximately 435,000 audience members each year. With a new and larger home, TPAC will expand programming for Tennesseans with world-renowned artists, touring Broadway productions, and ballet, opera, and dramatic theatre performances from its three resident companies (Nashville Ballet, Nashville Opera, and Nashville Repertory Theatre), while also growing its nationally recognized arts education programs to serve more students and teachers across the state.

“We are deeply grateful to the Governor and General Assembly for granting TPAC the essential financial support to construct a new world-class performing arts center and acknowledging the monumental impact that the arts have on the lives of Tennesseans,” says Jennifer Turner, TPAC President & CEO. “As we take these initial steps toward a cultural vision that represents the future of the performing arts, we are thrilled to work with this incredible team of internationally renowned architects to envision how TPAC will continue to captivate, connect and inspire positive change. I commend the TPAC Board of Directors for their courageous leadership in pursuit of this project.”

The strategic partnership of architects will co-lead the project’s development, representing a global portfolio of architectural designs that can be seen in Nashville’s skyline, as well as highly acclaimed destinations around the globe.

BIG, an internationally acclaimed architecture firm with a reputation for buildings that are programmatically and technically innovative, and William Rawn Associates, a national award-winning firm that specializes in performing arts facilities that are timeless and transformable, bring more than 30 years of experience working on performing arts center projects, devoted to the betterment of the public realm.

“Nashville is a city fueled by the creative energy of music and performing arts. TPAC is already a lively and celebrated institution in the cultural fabric of Nashville – and together with the TPAC leadership team, William Rawn Associates and EOA Architects, we are about to embark on a journey to imagine and design the future physical framework of TPAC that will be as open, inviting, integrated and inclusive as the institution already is,” described Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative director of BIG. “Once the form reflects the organization’s mission, we believe TPAC will be one of the great cultural institutions for performing arts in the country, and in the world.”

“William Rawn Associates is honored to help TPAC bring together artists and audiences in exciting new ways,” stated Cliff Gayley, WRA Principal Architect. “TPAC’s new home should harness the creative energy of Nashville and capture the imaginations of all Tennesseans.”

The architectural partnership also includes regionally recognized and Nashville-based EOA Architects as an integral member of the architectural team and provides additional support to ensure local expertise in the values and heritage of Tennessee and the incorporation of the community’s unique performing arts culture is a vital part of the design process.

“EOA Architects is honored to be engaged with this world-class team assembled to shape the future for the performing arts in our city and state,” noted Tracey Ford, Principal with EOA Architects. “As a locally rooted architecture firm, shaping a new home for Tennessee Performing Arts Center is a once in a generation opportunity.” Michael Murdock, EOA Architects Principal added, “architecture and the arts transform lives; this is our chance to put our hearts and souls into what will undoubtedly become a new treasured icon for our beloved city.”

To deliver on the vision for TPAC since its founding, the institution intends to build upon its unique capacity for narrative storytelling to create an artistic beacon worthy of Tennessee’s creative legacy. With a realized vision, a new performing arts center will grow audiences by an estimated 33 percent and allow TPAC to increase programming, expand educational and mission-driven activities and drive new visitation to the region while supporting new jobs across industries.

TPAC is actively engaged in the selection of a site for the organization’s relocation while also identifying philanthropic contributors to unlock the State grant.

“Today is an extraordinary moment for us to dream, think bigger than ourselves and embrace this artistic opportunity to develop a new performance home that the community can be proud of,” says Turner. “Tennessee Performing Arts Center is a treasured cultural gem in Tennessee, and this vision for the future of Nashville uniquely aligns with the ambitious growth that the community continues to witness.”

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