Architecture firm behind the Batman Building celebrates 60 years

Earl Swenssen Associates
Posted at 5:20 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 19:39:15-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville's skyline is always changing, and one of the architecture firms that has been a big part of that from the beginning is celebrating a big milestone — 60 years in business. "The L&C Tower was it," said Dick Miller, chairman emeritus of Earl Swenssen Associates.

There was only one skyscraper in Nashville when Miller first drove into town in the 1960s. Now you can't even see it, amidst all the glass and steel. "I think you lose some important historic reference points," Miller said.

But his firm, ESA, has also put a lot of these new buildings up. "I think the last time I looked, we could count over 10,000 projects that we’ve done in this Davidson County area," he said.

Some you'll instantly recognize, like the AT&T Tower, aka the Batman building. "We built, my recollection is 50 different exterior versions, and this was the final one that was approved and built," said Miller.

Even though the Caped Crusader was never the inspiration for the design. "And then when you look at it, I can see how people look at the top of that and it’s the tower of Batman," he said.

But there's one building that means a whole lot to us at NewsChannel 5. In 1965, then WLAC-TV hired ESA to design a news station of the future. "I think it’s a cherished landmark in this city," said Miller. "This was his pride and joy."

They went through a few design pitches before selecting the design that remains our home to this day. "They wanted something that would last for decades, for years, and not be an old dated looking building," he said.

Many of us at NewsChannel 5 lovingly call it the "space ship." But the original architect, Earl Swensson himself, considered it one of his favorites. "I would have to think it’s one of his top two or three buildings he’s ever worked on," said Miller. Swensson is still living, but we're told he's very much enjoying his retirement years.

A unique addition to a city always changing. "I think he accomplished the goal because if you look at the building today, at least in my opinion, it still looks fresh, it still looks modern," he said.