Manuel Zeitlin Architects is celebrating 40 years since its foundation, and the firm will be celebrating all year long by highlighting the places they have built and the people who helped along the way, including new projects, old projects, long-gone projects, current partners and their 25 year relationship with Zeitgeist art gallery.

“After moving back to Nashville in December 1980, I decided to start my own firm that spring,” said Zeitlin in a recent post, 16 Questions with Manuel Zeitlin. “My father tried to encourage me to work for a larger firm like Gresham and Smith. I responded that many of the modern architects I admired found their own way by learning from their mistakes and so could I.”

Zeitlin started working out of his parents’ basement while waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant named Alaman’s. From there, he traded rent for attic space in the office of plastic surgeon Dr. Pat Maxwell. A few years later he renovated a building on Blair Avenue for the growing business, next to Brown’s Diner. Then, Cummins Station and Hillsboro Village before their current Wedgewood-Houston location. 

Current projects leading Zeitlin into the next 40 years include leading the design team for the new headquarters for Tennessee Concrete Association, which is on-track to be the first Living Building Certified building in Tennessee and KIPP Antioch College Prep Elementary school.