Batey M. Gresham Jr., AIA, along with Fleming (“Flem”) W. Smith Jr., FAIA, founded Gresham and Smith Architects (now Gresham Smith) in 1967.
Batey received his Bachelor of Architecture from Auburn University in 1957, then served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a first lieutenant from 1957-1959, and as a captain from 1961-1962.
Early in 1967, Batey Gresham and Flem Smith met during a Nashville chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) networking event. In April of that same year, the two forged a partnership, which earned its first commission from a Nashville military academy to design dormitories and an academic building. After a year in business, the firm was asked to serve as the primary architect for the newly formed Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). In its first year, HCA broke ground on five hospitals designed by the partnership.
“Today, there is no way that a hospital company could go public with an architect that had never built hospitals before,” recalled Batey in 1999. “But back then, it never occurred to Dr. Frist [HCA founder] that it wouldn’t come out well.”
Batey was also an active member of the Nashville and professional architecture communities. A registered architect in Alabama and Tennessee, he served in roles with several professional organizations, including the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the AIA, the Tennessee Society of Architects, the Construction Specifications Institute, the Urban Land Institute, the National Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives, the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks, the Young Presidents’ Organization and the Chief Executives Organization.
Batey’s passion for architecture began when he was in high school. “I always liked solving three-dimensional problems… it just seemed to fit,” he said. In 1999, demonstrating his dedication to his alma mater and the architecture profession at large, Batey, along with his wife, Ann, also an Auburn University graduate, established the Ann and Batey Gresham Endowed Professorship. At the time, it was the first endowed professorship in the university’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture’s 90-year history. He was an active member of the Auburn Alumni Association and, in 2005, was recognized by the association with the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was established to recognize outstanding professional achievement, personal integrity and service to the university.
Batey also volunteered on the Board of Directors of the Alcohol & Drug Council of Middle Tennessee, writing in a 1999 commentary for the Nashville Business Journal that volunteering on the board was “one way I can invest in the future of Nashville while participating in the solution to a problem that is hurting us today.”
Batey once stated: “Human beings comprise the foundation of the future of any enterprise.” His commitment to employees and the community helped form the foundation of Gresham Smith’s culture that endures to this day.