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.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Creating Places: Regions Bank

I see the updating of the Hillsboro Village building home to Regions Bank is almost completed. Not sure how to put this to the fine folks at Regions but the building's exterior, despite looking a bit better, is still hideous. And that's because, very simply, the building essentially mimics a massive roof that has swallowed its base and mid-section. And no improved and/or new color scheme, signage, landscaping or doors can change that fact. Perhaps the best comparison to the building and that I can give is this: a toddler sporting a towering top hat. The ideal option — had cost not been a factor or a Regions leader had shown some vision — would have been a new building anchoring the northeast corner of the 21st and Wedgewood avenues intersection. With this hypothetical new bank structure open and helping define the intersection, the existing building could have been demolished and the lot cleared for future quality infill development. Relatedly, the sea of surface parking currently servicing the building could have been greatly reduced. (Note to folks who operate from spaces other than churches, events venues, schools, etc., i.e., the type places at which many motorists arrive and leave at the same times: You don't need nearly as much surface parking as you think.) This is another missed opportunity for Nashville's urban core. The sad thing is not that Regions didn't do something bold. Rather, it's depressing because it's likely nobody running the show at the bank at least thought in these terms.


  1. Great point! A building facing the corner could have completed one of Nashville's most dynamic intersections. Especially, if the building could have been 3-4 stories to reflect those on Wedgewood and Blakemoore. Not too mention, it could have connected the businesses north on 21st to Hillsboro Village.

    At the least, Regions could build an attractive masonry wall or fence around the corner and property to connect itself to the street. This is successfully achieved along Bardstown Road in Louisville, KY. All businesses that have a distance from the road are required to build a wall to cosmetically hide the surface lots and provide continuity of other buildings facing the street.

  2. Anonymous,

    I like the wall idea. On this theme, a few years ago officials with downtown's Christ Church Cathedral created a "wall of foliage" when they razed the Hatchcock Building for surface parking lot. It does make a difference. In fairness to Regions, they may not simply lease and the owner passed on a major development choosing, instead, a cosmetic update. Regardless, it's very disappointing. Maybe if we're lucky, the corner will feature some nice landscaping once the project concludes.

    And, yes, Bardstown is a stellar urban strip. Love the vibe.