Creating Places: A Citizen Observer's Look at Nashville's Built Environment

Writer's Note: William Williams' interest in the manmade environment dates to 1970, at which point the then-young Williams started a collection of postcards of city skylines. The collection now numbers 1,000-plus cards. Among the writer's specific interests are exterior building design, city district planning, demographics, signage, mixed-use development, mass transit and green/sustainable construction and living. Williams began his Creating Places column with The City Paper in February 2005. The column in its original form was discontinued in September 2008 and reinvented via this blog in November 2008. Creating Places can be found on the home page of the website of The City Paper, at which Williams has worked in various capacities since October 2000.

Friday, December 19, 2008

East Side Design Work

Spurred by manageable weather, this afternoon I exited my vehicle (its exterior paint job continuing to deteriorate) and walked the grounds of the soon-to-open Fifth & Main development in East Nashville. A highlight is the courtyard, as it is surrounded by an interesting mix of building heights, massings, materials and shapes. Developer Steve Neighbors and Everton Oglesby Architects are to be commended for a daring design and, in particular, incorporating substantial metal exterior elements.

A few negatives: I do not particularly care for the color scheme, whose dominant reds and browns fail to play well with the concrete and silver metal elements. In addition, the ground level retail spaces do not seem to have the potential to activate Main Street as fully as would have been anticipated or hoped. Perhaps I'll be proved wrong on that count once every commercial space is occupied. Otters is open and boasts nice signage and a very inviting interior. In addition, the unveiling of cosmopolitan restaurant Allium seems eminent, with both the dining and bar spaces clean and stripped down. Nice.

On the East Nashville theme, the rehabbing of the Kendall's Building has progressed nicely, and a dramatically reworked facade plays well off the across-the-street 37206 Building. Kudos to developer Mark Sanders for saving this charming little vintage building.

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