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.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Artful Artesia

Sometimes the best building is one that simply acts as an object of architectural design and functionality related to its time and place.

Artesia is a “best” building. Soon to open in West End Park and overlooking the Parthenon, this three-story residential structure succeeds on many levels, but mainly because architect Preston Quirk has respectfully allowed his creation to be itself with no self-consciousness or pretense. Simply put, Artesia is a fine 21st century building that takes some cues from earlier design vocabularies but refrains from applying them to excess.

Quirk and Centennial Development Co. are to be commended for their choice of exterior materials and forms, all of which blend seamlessly to create a masculine and ever-so-slightly experimental building. Artesia’s highlight might just be how its angular, dark-brown-brick forms contrast with its curving roof shapes -- both a vaulted, green metal cap and a mesh-like metal border to that cap and that acts as a sleek semi-parapet.  The effect is anything but subtle.  Of note, Artesia’s exterior nicely combines square, rectangular and circular shapes, while its stone vertical balcony pieces extend from the fa├žade in a straightforward yet attractive manner. Globe lawn lights add a playfully quirky touch. Balanced and well massed, Artesia strikes a commanding presence on its Parthenon Avenue site.

In short, Quirk and CDC have delivered not so much an architectural masterpiece but, instead, a masterfully attractive addition to Nashville’s built environment.  

(Note: Thanks to Holly Ing for providing this writer a nice tour of Artesia’s two models and its various commons areas, particularly the entrance with its dramatic water feature. Good luck with sales, Mrs. Ing.) 


  1. What a gorgeous and well thoughtout building! Will check out next time I take my dog to the Centennial Dog Park.

  2. Do you know the history of the parcel of land Artesia now sits on?

  3. I am so looking forward to viewing this amazing building! Thanks for the review.

  4. Anonymous,

    I recall two residential buildings previously sat on the site. One may have been a non-descript duplex, while the other (it seems) was a fairly attractive stone home.