Overview: Located on the corner of Polk Ave. and Union Street in Nashville sits an abandoned building known as the Ben West building. This was first built in the early sixties and opened in 1966 as Nashville’s downtown public library. In 2001, a new public library, the current building, was built one block south and the Ben West building has sat vacant since.

Challenge: To re-purpose the old library and create a design that will revitalize the Ben West building and secure it’s permanent future in downtown Nashville. The recommended function is for the building to house a photography museum.


Control and Manipulation of Light: At its very core, photography cannot exist without light. Cameras are designed specifically to focus light rays through a lens to a single point at which a reaction occurs, capturing an image through a chemical (film) or digital (sensory chip) process. Although the mechanics of a camera have advanced in history this concept has not. This basic fundamental idea of focusing light in photography and how we can control light for desired images inspired this design proposal for the old Nashville public library.


Refraction: When light is refracted it is often times unfocused, i.e. a prism that throws light in multiple directions.  This idea will inspire the design of spaces that are public and have a lack of focus on the building’s core function, photography.

Patterning: When light is controlled in a manner that produces patterns, often the repetition can drive movement. This idea will inspire the design of progression spaces such as hallways and stairs.

Intensity: When light is intensified it tends to call attention to itself.  Strong light will inspire the design of specific architectural elements in an effort to signify points throughout the building.

Focused: As mentioned in the concept, photography uses focused light to produce images; more particularly cameras use curved lenses to orient all light rays to a single point.  This idea will inspire the design of spaces that permanently center around photography.