Universal Music Group Nashville


Nashville, TN


Interior Design


2020 AIA Tennessee Design Awards Merit Awards

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In early 2018, faced with a lease that was expiring, Universal Music Group (UMG) Nashville called on Gresham Smith to design a new workplace that matched their international brand presence while visually reflecting the home of country music. The design team created an elevated and collaborative work environment that connects employees, supports the unique functions of a record label and provides an inspired experience for all who work and visit.

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The main lobby and connecting stairs in the Universal Music Group Nashville offices

Part Office, Part Music Venue

When your business is music and your office is in the heart of Music City, you have to be ready to host a show at a moment’s notice. We designed areas for meeting and collaboration as well as social spaces for special events and artist performances—some of these function all within the same space.

The listening room with a person playing a guitar in the Universal Music Group Nashville offices

A Listening Room

We quickly formed trust and a relationship with the client that led to further exploration of their needs and desires beyond the programmed requirements. This was exemplified best in their new Listening Room. UMG Nashville’s new acoustically sound Listening Room allows for music executives to fully experience their artist’s music and videos in a way that they couldn’t have in the previous office.

The main stairs and a bar in the Universal Music Group Nashville offices

Paying Homage to the “King of Country”

Incorporating music—and the idea of what they do—was a must for the design team. The visualization of music is represented in many ways throughout the space. Unique materials such as tile that resemble equalizer bars and the decorative gold-colored chain chandelier in the lobby—radiating outward like sound waves—allude to music without being literal. The cable system located along the central stair, a nod to guitar strings, is designed to be a surprising, interactive element that spans the two floors.

We even commissioned a local artist to create a wood mosaic art installation to showcase UMG Nashville’s legacy artist, George Strait—a literal representation of the labels artists and influence within the country music genre.

A rendering of a conference room in the Universal Music Group Nashville offices A conference room in the Universal Music Group Nashville offices

Creating a Vision

The design team took executives from UMG Nashville through a series of visioning sessions to get to know their work culture and to gain an understanding of their vision for the new office. We utilized Enscape, a rendering software, that allowed us to accurately and quickly represent designs to the client during the process.

Our design work resulted in a unique space with a blend of industrial, relaxed, authentic and creative touches that allows for expansive views and access to daylight for all employees. UMG Nashville’s new office, complete with an acoustically sound listening room, provides a variety of spaces that support the work, collaboration and celebrations at the home of country music in Nashville.

Gresham Smith was incredible to work with. Their original design was almost exactly as the space is today. They misunderstood our vision and goals, which included same-size office to maximize the use of the space and to give employees natural light and beautiful views. Their team worked with us every step of the way on a very tight schedule. Kim Gilbert Senior Director of Administrative Services and Nashville Project Manager, Universal Music Group