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.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bedford Commons Gets Uncommonly Attractive

I took a quick jaunt yesterday through Bedford Commons, the Rochford Realty and Construction Co. Inc. mixed-use "linear village" on the western fringe of the Green Hills commercial district. Of note, three buildings are opening (seemingly) simultaneously, and their respective exterior designs play nicely off one another.

The dominant member of the Bedford Avenue trio is the green-friendly Freeman Webb Building, a strikingly 21st century offering highlighted by rectangular metal pieces that act as facade-positioned picture frames.

Hastings Architecture Associates earns between an A-minus and a A for this quality project, while the Freeman Webb Co. deserves credit for opting for a building that is set to earn U.S. Green Building Council gold LEED certification. Given Green Hills is as known for bland architecture as Brooks & Dunn are for bad facial hair, the standout Freeman Webb Building is an instant classic.

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Not as adventurous — but effectiveness nonetheless — are the 3817 Building and 3811 Bedford Plaza. I need to determine the architect(s) for the duo, but both are constructed of quality materials and showcase strong massing and proportionality (and even a few subtle touches not commonly seen in understated buildings of this type). The face of 3811 features large, charcoal metal panels and an arched cap nicely defining the center entrance segment. 3817, the most reserved of the three structures, is topped by a very masculine stone parapet.

Collectively, the threesome provide a strong anchor to what is currently the northern end of Bedford Commons. Good work.

Coming soon: a review of the contemporary new Capstar Bank Building at 2321 Crestmoor Drive in Green Hills.

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