Inside the renovation of Nashville’s War Memorial Building and Legislative Plaza

The War Memorial Building, an architectural gem in Nashville, Tennessee, stands as a testament to our nation's history. Recognized on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, it embodies a rich legacy. This 145,000 square-foot project transcends ordinary portfolio additions.

Built as a memorial to the Tennessee soldiers who died in World War I, the War Memorial Building was the first building constructed for state offices outside the capitol. Engraved into the west and north walls are the names of 3,400 Tennesseans who gave their lives in World War I. Outside the building is Legislative Plaza, an open-air public space used for events. On the plaza stands the Civil War Women's Memorial and a monument to the Tennesseans who served in the Korean War.

Skanska is proudly leading the renovation of both the War Memorial Building and Legislative Plaza in Nashville.

“It is such an honor to work on a project with a historical connection to the men and women that served our great country. The first time I walked the memorial courtyard and saw all the names on the bronze plaques, it really hit me…the impact these historic events can have on each and every state we live in,” said Sean Walker, senior project manager.

Reviving lost elements and preserving the building’s charm

The project is in the demolition phase of the project’s interior, which is over 50 percent complete. Composed of two wings, North and South, this building has been a striking feature of the city's skyline for many years.

One of the key aspects of this project involves completely gutting the North wing while preserving architecturally significant finishes. An original light well will be recreated to allow natural light into interior offices. The courtyard within this light well will feature a raised pedestal paver system complete with waterproofing and storm drains below. New mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and fire protection systems will be installed to enhance functionality while maintaining historic charm.


In the South wing, renovations focus on enhancing accessibility and safety standards for the War Memorial Auditorium on Levels 1 – 3. Upgrades include extending elevator service to reach the upper-level auditorium lobby, installing two new chair lifts for improved ADA access, adding four modern restrooms, and installing a permanent non-combustible catwalk system in the attic.

Aesthetically, our team is restoring exterior facades, focusing on stone cleaning, terracotta repairs and masonry elements. Missing guttaes and finials will be replaced as part of the restoration process as well. Our team is also removing atmospheric soiling, treating biological growth and cleaning copper staining to restore all surfaces. Original steel windows are being restored too; they’ll be re-glazed and mechanically fixed so they cannot be opened but effectively maintain their vintage appeal.

This project also involves reviving lost elements or replacing those damaged beyond repair. Preserving the building's charm, existing hardware will be restored or replaced with replicas. For instance, where decorative terracotta or carved stone elements have been lost or damaged, our team is recreating them based on historical records or surviving examples. The large bronze doors will receive full repair and restoration services as well.

“Having served myself, I know how the men and women that are honored by this project felt. The project itself is unique in the middle of downtown. Renovating it gives me pride knowing it will be here for generations for others to enjoy and continue honoring those that served and the fallen,” said John Feathers, assistant superintendent.

This project allows us to take pride in honoring history and modernity without sacrificing the essence of either. Our team is privileged to work on this historic building—it’s a tribute to those who bravely served in the military, and their sacrifices are etched into its very fabric.