21c museum hotel nashville: nashville, tn

daylight + transparency in a new/old hotel

Client: 21c Museum Hotels

21c Museum Hotel Nashville is a combination boutique hotel, contemporary art museum open to the public free of charge 24/7, and chef-driven restaurant. Building on its mission to engage the public with contemporary art and spur economic and cultural rejuvenation of American urban centers, 21c rehabilitated the historic seven-story Gray & Dudley Hardware Building in downtown Nashville near Printer’s Alley. The National Register building was constructed in 1900 for retail and wholesale operations and warehouse storage. Over the years, it has undergone rounds of significant interior renovations: In the 1940’s, one half was converted to office and warehouse space and the other into a 450-car garage; in the 1960’s and 70’s, the garage was re-renovated into office space; renovations in 1983 added mechanical and vertical transport, and by 1994 the building was fully occupied for government office use. The current project transforms the building with 21c’s critically acclaimed trademark concept, defining a new purpose for this historic building in downtown Nashville.

The design references the history of the Gray & Dudley Hardware Company building while creating a contemporary experience reflecting the vibrancy of Nashville to-day.At the new Second Avenue entrance, the Lobby (left) and public areas honor the building’s industrial heritage with concrete floors, exposed brick, cast iron columns, and timber beams.

Critical design goals in transforming the historic building into a hybrid hotel/museum/restaurant included:

  • Bring daylight into a cavernous existing building.
  • Establish transparency and connections between spaces.
  • Introduce fresh design moves that reference the character of the historic hardware building, deftly mixing old and new.

120,000 sf


Cost $29M

Firm Responsibility

Forensic Investigation
Document Exist. Conditions
Architectural Design
Contract Documents
Contract Administration

Completion Date



AIA Pittsburgh, Honor Award, Interiors



Deborah Berke Partners

Landscape Design

40NORTH Landscape Architects

Lighting Design


MEP Engineering

I.C. Thomasson Associates, Inc.

Structural Engineering

Structural Design Group


R.C. Matthews Contractor

Historic Preservation Consulting

Thomason & Associates


Mike Schwartz Photography


Chris Cooper Photographer

Back to the Top
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn