Image courtesy of 1 Hotel Nashville
1 Hotel Nashville Lobby 641868158285b

The 1 Hotel Nashville is an Oasis in the Middle of Music City

March 28, 2023
Workshop/APD partnered with SH Hotels & Resorts to remind guests that Nashville is more than the flash and sparkle of its notorious entertainment scene.

You can’t miss it.

With a facade draped in ivy, the 1 Hotel Nashville is a head turner—especially sitting right across from the coppery waves of the Music City Center.

“The minute you see that, you should know the experience that you’re going to have,” said Christopher Alvarado, senior vice president, design, at operator SH Hotels & Resorts. “It’s going to be different.” 

The 1 Hotel brand seeks to deepen guests’ connection with nature by immersing them in it no matter the location—whether that’s a bustling metropolis like Nashville or an exotic island across the world in China (Haitang Bay, Sanya).

But the mission goes much deeper with sustainability and wellness initiatives that are making clear and visible differences in the health of our planet. From the macro, like the 19,171 tons of CO2 they’ve offset making them 100% certified carbon neutral since 2018, to the more micro in the local farms and nonprofits they support, the brand’s reach stretches far and wide—and the design is no exception.

SH Hotels & Resorts partnered with New York-based studio Workshop/APD for the 215-room LEED Silver-certified 1 Hotel Nashville, both of whom agreed the property needed to serve as an escape from what Alvarado dubbed the “Nash-Vegas experience.” Besides its auspicious neighbor, it’s also within walking distance of the Country Music Hall of Fame and is a conductor of the energy in this hub of music culture and history. “We all know it, and it’s there if you want to experience it—you’re within arm’s length of it. But we wanted 1 to be more of a sanctuary from that if you need it,” he explained. 

In order to create such a space, the Workshop/APD team started their process by escaping that bubble of downtown Nashville for a journey through surrounding Tennessee landmarks that could help them define the city in a different way. This started with using the Cumberland River and Fort Nashborough to inform the lobby design.
“So we made it like a journey for the traveler,” explained Andrew Kline, Workshop/APD associate principal. “They come in through the Cumberland River, which is how goods would naturally flow into Nashville.” He points to the photograph below that they took along the way at Fort Nashborough, featuring the water line from a previous flood:

“A lot of the conversation we were having with 1 Hotel was centered around if you could take just five minutes of a person’s busy trip, how could you make them think about nature in a different way? Sometimes, that’s recognizing that nature is super powerful and we need to respect it,” Kline said. “So that idea became very influential, especially in our millwork design, which features a color tone change at a certain height in the lobby, coming back to the idea that nature can take over the built environment." 

They also paid a visit to the city’s Belle Meade Plantation, reflected in the guest rooms. To evoke the feeling of “returning home,” the guestroom furniture, crafted from textured woods, was inspired by the idea of an open farm table. Instead of building in the vanity, mini bar and closet, they can be accessed from both sides. The bed was also designed to look like a fence that you might see at a plantation or at the races, and lighting mimics that found in a barn or warehouse.

“We also looked at the agriculture of the region,” Alvarado said, particularly tobacco farms. Behind the check-in desk is an installation wall of tobacco leaves. “We studied barn structures, which are very prevalent throughout Tennessee,” and the Neighbors grab ‘n’ go café actually places guests within the frame of one. Large timber columns and beams at the rooftop bar Harriet’s do the same. “It makes you feel like you are in this rural place in the middle of a major city.” The lakes of Tennessee led the team to make nautical statements in 1 Kitchen, such as with the woven rope canopy that sits behind the bar and captures twinkling lights above patrons in the main dining area. 

The outdoors were brought in wherever possible, with lots of connective spaces between the two and of course a huge plant program keeps guests surrounded by plant life native to the area wherever they go. The elevator lobby on each floor features a large screen print by artist Richard A. Lou of a different local endangered plant species. It was also important to Kline to utilize local materials in their most true and natural form, such as the Tennessee granite slab that serves as the front desk and the flagstone on the spa floor, neither of which was overly processed or cut.

Lots of opportunities are also taken throughout the property to remind guests that preserving nature should not be differentiated from their own personal health. A filtered tap is located right next to the bed in guestrooms to fill a carafe or bottle, and Farmstand sits right outside the elevators. This vintage farm table offers naked fruits picked fresh from local farms to grab as a snack. When taken advantage of regularly, both moves help to significantly cut back on plastic waste.

Partnerships with various charities and nonprofits help the brand pay it forward even further into the circular economy. Just to name a few, the Nashville location partners with Thistle Farms on various programming and events, including guided meditations, pop-up shops and survivor-led classes to benefit this organization dedicated to helping women survivors of prostitution, human trafficking and addiction. They also offer the 1 Less Thing initiative, which allows guests to leave a piece of clothing or two to donate to another partner, People Loving Nashville, serving the city’s unhoused with a variety of services.

If the entire industry were to adopt 1 Hotel’s philosophy that the future of hospitality and the future of the world are one and the same, our collective future will be as bright as the country superstars of Music City: shining.
About the Author

AnnMarie Martin

AnnMarie has been covering the commercial design space since 2005 and has been on the editorial staff at i+s since 2011. Her style and vision has helped the brand evolve into a thought leader in purpose-driven design and cultural movements shaping the way we live and work. She returned to the role of editor in chief at the start of 2023 and her journalism and fiction writing background have helped to craft bi-monthly issues that don’t just report the latest industry news, but tell a cohesive tale of some of the biggest topics facing designers today. She can always be reached at [email protected].

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