The redevelopment of Nashville’s West Riverfront Park was a truly unique and challenging project. The park became the site of many firsts for the City of Nashville. Having been coined Music City’s “front porch,” this urban renewal of a former thermal plant is the first phase of the new riverfront redevelopment for the city. Major components of the redevelopment include: 1.5-acre Ascend Amphitheater with capacity for up to 6,800 people, redevelopment of 1st Avenue, over one mile of multi-use greenway trails, Nashville’s first downtown dog park and ornamental gardens. Several custom designed items, such as large-scale precast decorative swings located around the park’s perimeter, are the result of a collaborative effort between Skanska and the design team. Other unique features include a 45-foot tall sculpture titled “Light Meander” that mimics the nearby Cumberland River’s flow through Davidson County and the Betty Brown Tree Trail that includes 225 individual trees representing 43 different species, earning Level 1 arboretum status. Another first for Nashville is the Ascend Amphitheater’s open band shell that allows spectators to view downtown Nashville through its opening. Ascend also contains an electronic band shell that allows an orchestra to play in an outdoor environment by using many small microphones to simulate an indoor performance. The Nashville Symphony spent three days at Ascend with the acoustic designer/tuner to perfect the sound. This is only one of a few facilities in the world with this capability.
Innovation, in both sustainability and diversity, were also pioneered on West Riverfront Park. The project was originally designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, but Skanska secured enough LEED points during construction to achieve LEED Gold. The park uses 22 percent less energy than the LEED energy baseline on average. Approximately six percent of its energy needs are met by onsite renewable geothermal and solar energy generation systems. It’s also designed to use around 30 percent less potable water than the LEED baseline, and a rainwater harvesting system was installed. Design features promote biodiversity, reduce the risk of flooding in downtown Nashville and encourage more sustainable modes of transport by creating an important link in Nashville’s walking and cycling greenway network. During construction, the project succeeded in diverting 88 percent of construction waste from landfills. The project also achieved one LEED point for hiring Skanska because our environmental, health and safety management program is certified to ISO 14001 standards.