Designing in Nashville: An Interview with Senior Project Manager, Megan St. Denis
Megan St. Denis is a Senior Project Manager for Pembrooke & Ives. She has overseen the design and construction of complex private residences across the world, including New York, Chicago, Nashville, Sonoma, and Hong Kong.
Megan is a registered architect, is NCARB certified, and is a member of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. Today, we’re speaking with Megan St. Denis about a new project underway in Nashville.
First, tell us about the project you are working on in Nashville.
It is a 3,000 square foot private duplex penthouse apartment in Midtown, steps from Music Row and Vanderbilt University. The apartment was built in the 1990’s and the clients wanted to bring it up to date to create a fun, creative place for entertaining as well as a comfortable space for working and living when they are in town.
What is exciting to you about working in Nashville?
Nashville is incredibly dynamic and we are still exploring its many layers and facets. A close-knit town rooted in music, the city is also richly layered with beautiful architecture, a thriving arts community, and amazing culinary offerings. The energy is palpable and there is so much to see and fun to be had.
What is most important to you when beginning projects in new cities?
Understanding the local culture and architectural context is an important aspect of designing a project in a new city. We want to be sensitive to what came before us and learn as much as we can about local codes, practices, vendors, and sources.
How do you go about finding local resources in new markets?
The contractors we work with are invaluable resources as they have longstanding relationships with area craftsmen. We try to source locally where we can, though as with all of our projects, materials and products come from all over in order to best fit each application. For example, with our Nashville project, we are working with local vendors for the stone slabs, wood flooring, and millwork, the artisans building the custom spiral staircase are in Georgia and South Carolina, door hardware and plumbing fixtures are made in New York, and specialty finishes and fixtures are coming from all over really.
What have you enjoyed discovering around Nashville?
Our project is near the Graduate Hotel which is fabulously kitschy and over-the-top. We love the Optimist and Henrietta Red in Germantown; the food at Etc. is a work of art. East Nashville is a haven for quirky bars and vintage shops; Pin’s Mechanical is a really fun bowling alley/lounge. We have so much on our list that we can’t wait to explore.
What is most exciting to you about this Nashville project?
Pied-a-terres are really fun to design because the clients are usually open to taking more risks at a second residence. We want to create special architectural moments that would complement the client’s eclectic art and furniture collection. The clients love the Art Deco style so we riffed on some classic elements from that time period (high-contrast coloration, with accents of warm brass and rich walnut) while keeping a clean and modern aesthetic overall. We’re really excited about the peacock and burnished brass bar, the custom spiral staircase, and the patinated bronze baseboard.
How long do you expect the project to take/when is the estimated completion date of the project?
The project will be completed in early 2024.