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The four-minute mile. The land speed record. Most homeruns in a season, a golf tournament's lowest scores, the fastest Tour de France. They all reach a peak beyond which some think it is impossible for a human to go. But we try. And some break through.

As an architect, our firm's founder Brian Smallwood has worked for some of the finest firms in the country. And his projects have often been highly complex and technical. Not just the bones of the building or residence, but the site planning to account for the rise and fall of the sun around them. The way the structure hugs or competes with its unique topography. The engineering of the systems designed to sustain the design. And then how it all answers the specific needs of the people who will live inside.

Today, Brian and his partner Kyle McKinness are attempting their own four- minute mile breakthrough of sorts in architecture, by accepting only a small, select number of projects that offer the greatest challenge, and the greatest reward for all involved.

As a high schooler in California, Brian's sport was rock climbing - especially in Yosemite where the park's boulder climbs and rock faces offered continually diverse and difficult new challenges as he improved at the sport.

In rock climbing, as in skiing or whitewater rafting, the hiking and climbing difficulty of any rock face is technically rated on a scale of 1.00 to 6.00. Class 5.13 and 5.14-rated climbs are the most difficult ever successfully attempted free-solo.

The name of our firm is 5.13.

It might not be what you expect, but neither are we. And it is a fitting name for this specialized firm, our highly experienced team, and our philosophy of work in designing and building elegant solutions most have never imagined or thought possible - until we do.

Kyle McKiness

Kyle McKiness

Kyle McKiness grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1995. While at UT and early in his career, Kyle studied and practiced architecture in Krakow, Poland – an experience which still influences the way he appreciates and deploys elements of the old and new worlds in some of his work today.

Kyle and partner/founder Brian Smallwood have history together. They both worked at one of the most prominent and innovative architecture firms in Nashville, Tuck Hinton, in the late 1990s. When Brian left the firm to work for IDS, Kyle joined acclaimed regional multi-family developer Southern Land Company in their residential and commercial divisions. But when Brian co-founded Smallwood Nickle, Kyle was one of the first architects hired by the firm. Except for a two-year gap in their respective careers, Brian and Kyle have worked together since 1996. Today, as Brian's partner, Kyle shares Brian's same sense of disciplined innovation, challenge and adventure represented by the firm's 5.13 name. After all, he has five kids.

Kyle has participated in a number of high-profile award-winning designs, including the TSU Performing Arts Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Adventure Science Center. In addition to his commercial work, Kyle gained extensive experience with housing, mixed-use facilities and neighborhood developments while working with Southern Land Company – including their award-winning whole-town concept of Westhaven Development in Franklin, Tennessee. And his multi-dimensional appreciation for the aesthetics and performance needs of these various building applications has given Kyle an extensive understanding of technical design and building specifications. This knowledge allows him to effectively coordinate and communicate design solutions for residential owners and contractors alike. When not at work, Kyle and his wife stay busy with those five young children, including a set of triplets.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Bachelors of Architecture 1995
Brian Smallwood

Brian Smallwood

Born and raised in Newport Beach, California, Brian and his family have chosen to call Nashville, Tennessee home for the last 26 years. As such, Brian brings a unique bi-coastal design perspective, range and sensibility to all of the firm's projects. From residential to commercial and West Coast contemporary, to the style and comfort of the New South.

Brian has a strong background in art, art history, theory, philosophy, and both technical and art photography – all of which informs and enhances the uncommon form and function of his architectural practice. And he has traveled extensively throughout the world, including a year in Switzerland working directly with famed European architect and educator Olivio Ferrari.

After moving to Nashville, Brian joined Tuck Hinton working on a number of the firm's most highly visible projects. He left to join IDS where he was assigned the firm’s most complex projects for healthcare giant HCA across the country. In 2001 he founded Smallwood + Nickle with his friend and former Tuck Hinton colleague Jim Nickle.

In the community Brian has been a member of the board of trustees for Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Art Museum. He was chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals for the City of Belle Meade where he headed a reorganization and rewriting of the city’s residential zoning regulations. Brian is currently board chair for The Legion Fund which raises funds and provides aid to soldiers and families of the Fifth Group Special Forces 5SFG (A) in Fort Campbell just north of Nashville. These Green Berets are tasked with special forces operations in the Middle East and are known as The Silent Professionals. He is also a board member for both the Nashville Zoo and The Thacher School in Ojai California.

Brian received his BFA degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, and his Masters of Architecture degree from Virginia Polytechnic and State University. He is registered to practice Architecture in the following states: Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas and Ohio.

Professional Organizations:
American Institute of Architects - AIA
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards - NCARB
U.S. Green Building Council – Corporate Member

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