Barge, Waggoner, Sumner, and Cannon, a Nashville engineering and architecture firm, has moved to a new SoBro building as it rebrands as Barge Design Solutions Inc.
The building, 615 Third, is located where Third Avenue meets Lea Avenue on a 1-acre property Barge Waggoner has owned since the 1980s. In a partnership with development company The Mathews Co., R.C. Mathews Contractor and Colliers International, Barge Waggoner has retained 50 percent of the property.
Previously, Barge Waggoner operated from 211 Commerce St., along with Baker Donelson, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and FirstBank. CEO Bob Higgins said the move will allow the company to save 20 percent on leasing while creating a space designed by and for its 185 local employees.
“Our people really were passionate about that idea of being in our own space,” Higgins said. “We get to showcase to our clients the type of work we do.”
The firm’s name change, effective in 2018, reflects the company’s growth and evolution since its founding in 1955, Higgins said. The firm has moved beyond just civil engineering to water services, industrial design and transportation projects, and has expanded to 350 employees in five states — Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.
Barge Waggoner has reorganized in recent years to reflect its range of services rather than office site, Higgins said. That way, clients have access to all Barge Waggoner professionals, regardless of geography, and employees are able work on projects in any location.
“In today’s world, we needed to be collaborative, add more depth to our resume and get the best people on projects all over the company,” Higgins said. “We found ourselves working in so many more markets with many more opportunities.”
The employee-owned company has worked on significant local projects, including Music City Center, Nissan Stadium, the Metro Courthouse and Capitol View. Barge Waggoner’s founder Dan Barge Jr. also worked on the city’s steam tunnels.
“It was very important to be a downtown firm,” Higgins said. “We’ve been such a part of the history of downtown Nashville.”
The building includes four stories of office space and four floors of parking, with additional parking underground. The first floor will be used for retail, and Barge Waggoner will occupy the top two floors. The Mathews Co., R.C. Mathews Contractor and Colliers International will be located on a separate floor, above the parking levels.
Each floor will have an outside terrace designed as a stair step, and the building’s location provides a “gorgeous view” of downtown Nashville, Higgins said.
Nearly 40,000 square feet remain available for leasing. Retail partners have not been announced.
Higgins estimates the roughly 125,000-square-foot building has cost close to $42 million.
Barge Waggoner has sought to enhance wellness opportunities for employees and the priority is reflected in the building’s design, Higgins said. 615 Third includes bike racks, a fitness center for employees and showers on each floor.
“It’s a great place for employees to not only be able to work, but to take better care of themselves and incorporate wellness into their routine at the office,” Higgins said. “It’s all about making the healthy choice the easy choice, and we were able to use design elements in the building to be able to do that.”
Reach Jamie McGee at 615-259-8071 and on Twitter @JamieMcGee_.