Big Plans For Nashville – SIU Architecture Students Share Ideas For Nashville’s Downtown Following Semester-Long Project

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Big Plans For Nashville

SIU–C Architecture student Nicholas Mack points to photos and mockups from a digital projector when talking about his group’s plans for Nashville following a semester-long Urban Design Studio class that looked at transforming the downtowns of Murphysboro, Pinckneyville and Nashville.

SIU Architecture Students Share Ideas For Nashville’s Downtown Following Semester-Long Project

By Alex Haglund

Architecture students from an Urban Design Studio Class taught by Steven Turnipseed at SIU-Carbondale did a semester-long project on what Turnipseed called “The Illinois 127 Corridor”. The students focused on three towns along the State Highway, Murphysboro, Pinckneyville, and Nashville, and developed plans and ideas for improving and revitalizing the ”Main Street” areas of the towns.

The students gave one presentation about halfway through their project at a Nashville Chamber of Commerce General Membership meeting held at Little Nashville Restaurant on November 11. The students again visited Nashville at the conclusion of their project, and delivered a presentation at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce office on December 11.

The class broke into four groups of three people each, with one person in each group focusing on each city.

From the first team, Josh Curvey was the student working on Nashville.

“Everything that I did, Curvey said, showing plans on a digital projector, “was to focus the view right to the courthouse.”

Reorganization of parking in Curvey’s plans allowed for more cars to fit in the lot behind Lee’s and Restoff’s and made it so that the street parking on the south side of St. Louis Street could be converted to other uses, in this case, a 20-foot sidewalk, a tree-filled buffer area, and a bike lane.

“I wanted to influence pedestrians through more of a defined space,” Curvey said. Also drawing pedestrians in the area was a large addition of green space across from the courthouse on Kaskaskia Street.

Team Two’s student focused on Nashville was Richard Mitchell, whose plans included two proposed parks. One would be located at the corner of Mill and St. Louis Streets, while the other would be a “pocket park,” which would replace the old McDaniel’s Furniture/Black Tie Affair storefront, and would feature trees, gravel walks and a small fountain.

“My ideas focused on connecting the north and south sides of the street,” said Mitchell, “because I kind-of felt like access through the city was east to west.”

Reno Mason was the student on Team Three who worked on plans for Nashville.

“As a group, we decided to do a Main Street park for all three towns,” Mason said, “We took out nine parking spaces and added trees and green areas.”

As for the facades, “we decided to keep the businesses as they were, and then added another story to them.

Mason’s plans also included a park, this one in the location of Rollin’ Up. There would be entirely new construction on Adams Street in his plans, including Rollin’ Up’s new location, as well as Gutzler’s Donuts and new apartments.

Group Four’s Nashville representative was Nicholas Mack, who said, “My focus was to try to get traffic from 127 and redirect them into Nashville.”

Facilitating this plan was the addition of a roundabout at the intersection of State Routes 127 and 15, “to slow traffic headed to or from the Interstate,” Mack said.

Mack also proposed a system of awnings for downtown businesses which would give them all some uniformity, without sacrificing each business’ individuality. Mack also showed plans for use of trees and lightpoles along St. Louis Street which would act as a buffer between pedestrians and businesses on one side, and traffic on the other, as well as a median along Route 15.

Finally, Mack showed a mocked-up image of one of the businesses the students had mentioned again and again through the project.

“That’s an outdoor seating area at Buretta’s,” Mack said. “It’s kind of a class favorite.”

The different ideas for Nashville (as well as Pinckneyville and Murphysboro) done by the class were just a school project, and were in no way binding or endorsed by the city or any other public entities. However, the students’ plans were an interesting, if not always realistic, look at some ideas on the use and possible future of the Main Streets of some vibrant southern Illinois towns.