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, April 19, 2010

Creating Places: Nance Place

Construction of Nance Place, the "workforce housing" multi-unit rental building on Rolling Mill Hill, is now fully underway. N-Place should be an attractive building, as Nashville-based DA|AD and the local office of Moody Nolan are teaming to handle design work. Of note, MDHA is serving as developer, with the agency having been a key part of the development of three nearby residential buildings (originally meant to have been condos) on the site and that continue to sit empty and in receivership. Not to fully criticize MDHA, as the development of the aforementioned trio of buildings hit all types of snags and difficulties beyond the agency's control. But MDHA has no successful track record in developing housing other than significantly subsidized structures geared toward, put bluntly, folks living on Section 8 vouchers, unemployment checks and minimum wage. A facility similar to Nance Place —— Laurel House in the Gulch —— was developed by The Housing Fund Inc. (which is not directly related to MDHA). In short, N-Place will be MDHA's first solely developed multi-unit housing development targeting prospective residents who make $2o,000 a year or more. It's a major undertaking and one, given MDHA's limited experience in such efforts, that carries no guarantee of success.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Creating Places: A Quick Drive

With yesterday's weather as stellar as the latest Them Crooked Vultures album, I took a drive with my good buddy and fellow "built fabric geek" John Mathieson through downtown Nashville and Germantown.

A few thoughts:

1. The new Goodwill building on 10th Avenue North in Hope Gardens is looking strong, with work almost finished. The building's brick color and detailing are very masculine and attractive. I might have preferred an additional brick color, however, to create variation. Still, Hastings Architecture Associates has delivered another very eye-catchingly designed structure to the city's core.

2. Nearby the Goodwill site, the Glanton Building is nearing construction completion on Jefferson Street. A good bit of metal gives the structure a very 21st century vibe. Of note, the second floor cantilevers over ground space between Jefferson and the GB. Very cool.

3. The old American Trust building now sports along its cap Hotel Indigo signage. I like the design and proportionality of the sign, but the all-white color scheme is too understated. On the Hotel Indigo theme, I recently "toured" the facility and was quite impressed. HI represents downtown's first "edgy and boutique" hotel -- and a is product the central city has long needed.