Planning Praise 

Urbanist Stroud Watson earns more acclaim

Urbanist Stroud Watson earns more acclaim

Tennessee architect and urbanist Stroud Watson has just lassoed a big prize—the American Institute of Architects’ 2001 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. The AIA award recognizes Watson’s excellence for establishing “a portfolio of accomplishments in the design of architecturally significant public facilities.”

Watson is based in Chattanooga as the director of the city’s Downtown Planning and Design Center. But the University of Tennessee professor has left big footprints in Nashville as well.

Watson was a leading member of the design team that produced the Plan for SoBro, an urban design for the redevelopment of the area south of Broadway published by the Scene in 1997. Watson’s major contribution to the plan was the idea that the Franklin Corridor—then designed as a six-lane downtown thruway connecting I-65 with I-40—should be redesigned as a tree-lined boulevard stopping at Eighth Avenue South, and that the Demonbreun viaduct should be preserved. Mayor Bill Purcell and Metro planners subsequently translated the proposal into the construction design for the roadway.

Watson also served as a member of the design team that produced a master plan for the area surrounding the Bicentennial Mall. True to Watson’s urbanist philosophy, this plan heals the fractured grid of streets through the area and calls for a mixture of residential, commercial, and government uses designed as a traditional urban village.

Watson is currently a member of the board of the Nashville Cultural Arts Project, a nonprofit group organized by the McRedmond family to develop a restoration plan for the 1920s Neuhoff packing plant on the Cumberland River north of downtown. He recently agreed to serve on the 15-person board of the Nashville Civic Design Center, which is modeled in part on the center in Chattanooga.

Watson’s Planning and Design Center has played a central role in transforming Chattanooga’s downtown from one of the poorest to one of the most progressive examples of civic design in the country. Among his many contributions to the downtown’s revitalization, the professor served as the design director for the Tennessee Aquarium and the Ross’ Landing Park and Plaza. He was a key player in the development of master plans for Chattanooga’s South Central Business District and Miller Park District, and currently serves as the urban design consultant on Chattanooga’s riverfront.

Watson has previously received numerous awards from the American Planning Association and the AIA for his tenacious advocacy of urban design and planning.


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