EQ Office


Nashville, TN


Architecture, Landscape Architecture


2023 ASLA Kentucky Merit Award in General Design

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Located at the corner of Nashville’s Church Street and Fifth Avenue, and just steps away from iconic Printer’s Alley and The Ryman, the 31-story Fifth Third Center connects the city’s arts and central business districts. As Music City’s first post-modern skyscraper, the building features strong pre-cast concrete forms and a large, open plaza constructed of concrete pavers. With a desire to tap into Nashville’s energy and create a public space where downtown employees and visitors can work, dine and simply hang out, EQ Office called on Gresham Smith to reimagine the site’s outdoor experience. By incorporating a variety of seating options, a new deck, a covered patio, upgraded lighting and integrated raised planters, our design creates a welcoming, human-scale space that creates a sense of place and embodies what Church Street once was: a place for gathering in the heart of the city.

feet of slope
estimated plants
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man with headphones in at Fifth Third Center Plaza

The Lay of the Land

While seemingly simple upon first glance, the existing site posed numerous challenges. Built on top of an underground parking structure, our team had to work around existing air intake grates while also being mindful of the impact that new materials and features would have on the weight placed on the garage below. Additionally, the site features a significant slope—more than four feet across the plaza—which affects function, accessibility and stormwater runoff.


tables and various seating at Fifth Third Center Plaza

Bringing it Down to Human-Scale

The 31-story building’s height, combined with the entry’s large nearly three-story columns, can seem intimidating to pedestrians at ground level. To create a more human-scale space that invites people into the plaza, our design establishes a central walkway flanked by raised planters featuring a contemporary take on Nashville’s typical landscaping to create a sense of arrival.

stairs at the Fifth Third Center Plaza
large columns at Fifth Third Center Plaza

A Seat for Everyone

Given its central location, the plaza sees a variety of visitors, from downtown employees to tourists visiting Music City. Whether enjoying an outdoor office, taking a lunch break, or simply taking in the city’s sights, our design’s various seating areas offer something for everyone. Guests can choose to enjoy picnic tables on the large deck, tables under the covered shelter near the pop-up retail space, bench seating integrated into the plaza steps, or sofas, chairs and tables on the upper plaza.

Fifth Third Center Plaza deck view

Evoking the Energy of Music City

Completed in 2022, the refreshed Fifth Third Plaza will evoke Nashville’s infectious energy, providing a space where residents and visitors alike can gather to connect, collaborate and create on Music City’s new center stage.