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.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Curious Case of Slanting Building Shapes

A soon-t0-open residential building in Germantown (some would say, technically, it's in Salemtown) offers a design element that is rarely seen with Nashville buildings: unconventional geometric shapes. And in this case, the slant.

The three-story four-unit development mentioned above, located on the northeast corner of the Sixth Avenue and Hume Street T-intersection, specifically features slanted roofs for each of its four residences. Nashville-based DA|DA designed the building, a name for which I cannot seem to determine (so we'll call it Sixth & Hume). DA|AD's involvement is noteworthy given the company wove its architectural magic with another slanted-roof-line gem: The West Eastland. Also, the two DA|AD-designed buildings on the northeast corner of Sixth and Hume offer slanted roofs — although the buildings are not nearly as attractive compared to the design firm's other work due to their odd color scheme and suburban-flavored stacked stone elements.

Other design highlights for Sixth & Hume include four segments of stucco with nicely contrasting colors (olive, medium gray, dark tan and beige), a dark and handsome brick, and Hardie siding on the third level.

Look closely and you'll see sleek light fixtures framing doors nicely defined with four horizontal windows each (a subtle yet effective touch).

Sixth & Hume is a solid example of the type urban infill residential construction Nashville desperately needs, as its bold color palette, economical utilization of space, massing and height combine cleanly for a successful presentation. Developer The Baskin Co. deserves credit for this fine addition to the city's north side.

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