ERWS, Inc. - Vanderbilt University


Nashville, TN


Architecture, Engineering, Experiential Design and Wayfinding, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture

With rise of online shopping and changing consumer preferences, American malls have increasingly fallen out of fashion. Originally built in 1968, Nashville’s One Hundred Oaks Mall was in serious decline and in danger of becoming another casualty of suburban blight. Gresham Smith became the glue in a serendipitous relationship between Vanderbilt Health and the developers, reimagining the deteriorating retail center into a successful, mixed-use medical office destination. We master planned, programmed and designed the 880,000-square-foot project, creating a patient-friendly clinic that brings convenient, top-tier medical care to the Nashville suburbs.

square feet
specialty clinics

A Diamond in the Rough

Despite its unconventional location, the One Hundred Oaks location had a lot going for it: it was close to Vanderbilt’s main campus as well as downtown Nashville. However, the mall’s site was cluttered and confusing. Multiple one-way ramps and merges weren’t easy to navigate. Our team simplified the site’s circulation, adding clearly defined access points and a traffic signal for an easy-to-navigate site. We also recaptured a lot of the space devoted to ramps and implemented sustainable infrastructure such as rain gardens, bioswales and green space. Our team was also able to add additional parking to the site and a walking trail.

woman and girl sit in waiting room near reception desk

Creating a Clinic

Of the mall’s nearly 900,000 square feet, 450,000 square feet is dedicated to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s clinical and administrative support operations. With a focus on wellness and convenience for the community, the patient experience and safety were drivers throughout the design process. The facility offers 22 specialty clinics with standardized rooms, which enhance patient safety and create flexibility. Kiosks allow patients to check themselves in, check their MyHealth account and check the availability of doctors and appointments. The space’s skylights, earth-tone walls and comfortable furniture are a vast departure from sterile hospital spaces and look more like a casual café than a doctor’s office.

people walk through the lobby and check in desk before going up or down escalators

A Shining (Green) Star

Throughout the renovation our team maintained the existing structural elements, recycled construction waste, used regional materials and low/no VOC paint and installed efficient mechanical and lighting systems. Our sustainability efforts led to USGBC LEED-CI Certification and a Green Star Award from the USGBC Middle Tennessee Chapter.

view of the parking lot with oak trees

Honoring the Oaks

As a tribute to the original property, we planted 100 oak trees on the site and turned much of the asphalt into inviting green space. Additionally, our team’s wayfinding and identification graphics play off the historic site’s name while establishing a clean, modern look and feel for Vanderbilt’s new medical mall space.

More important than the significant increase in our available clinical space is the overall concept and design which is focused on providing our patients, faculty and staff with a new paradigm for health and wellness. The convenience, accessibility and innovative ways of providing care for our patients are a true transformation of both the architecture and the overall patient experience. Cyril Stewart Senior Director, Vanderbilt Medical Center Office of Space and Facilities Planning
With support from Gresham Smith, we were able to utilize an existing building in a strategically located but underutilized area to offer a more sustainable approach to development and enhance the economic vitality of this area of Nashville. Tony Ruggeri President, ATR & Associates