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, August 14, 2010

Creating Places: Random Observations

A few things of note...

* The finishing touches being applied to the Fulton Complex suggest a tastefully done project. In particular, the new-look Howard Building offers a handsome exterior.

* Nearby the Fulton Complex, work continues on Nance Place, the three-story affordable housing residential building designed by DA|AD. My concern is that Nance will open in isolation, surrounded by nothing but dead space. This will negatively impact what should be an otherwise attractive building. In time, and as Rolling Mill Hill is infilled, Nance should look much better.

* I have to say I'm not a fan of the exterior of the Gulch industrial building home to Yazoo Brewing Co. While I give props for the cool Yazoo logo painted on the building's south face, the overall color scheme (maroon and light yellow) is ugly. Also, the new patio does not fit well with the building's materials and forms. Still, I credit Yazoo official for choosing the Gulch for their new home, using a previously empty building — and crafting some fine beer.

* YMCA of Middle Tennessee deserves praise for the tasteful update of the exterior of its one-story admin building located on Church Street between Ninth Avenue and YMCA Way. A paint job and landscaping have rendered the little 1960s-era structure considerably more visually appealing.

* I hate to see Performance Studios leave its building on Church Street (across from NES). That building is a "gateway" of sorts into downtown (from Midtown) and needs to be activated with a new tenant.


  1. I agree, Yazoo has done a great job building a strong brand with their beer. But other than the painted sign on the new building, the brand is tainted by the awful color scheme, the out of place pergola, and just the blandness of the site. Unfortunately, Yazoo is still missing opportunities to create an experience that strengthens the brand, showcases Nashville's premier brewery, and weave into the design chic already present in the Gulch.

    Also, that was a fun building for Performance to be located, but the parking is terrible around Halloween. Hopefully, a new tenant will respect the location and treat it similar to the "gateway" Braid/Bohan building on Demonbreun.

  2. Anonymous,

    Strong points about the Yazoo and Performance buildings. What's interesting is Yazoo has done a stellar job with its beer label designs. Great graphics and color schemes. I so respect what Linus and Lila are doing that I feel almost uncomfortable being so critical about the exterior design of their building. But it is what it is: unattractive (except for the very cool logo, no doubt).