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, October 17, 2010

Creating Places: Wells Fargo Signage

I noticed yesterday new signage for the downtown office building at 230 Fourth Ave. N. and with the anchor tenant Wells Fargo. The building's face and plaza both sport signs similar to the sign in the photo on the right. That is, the lettering essentially overwhelms the sign itself with no proportionality. Compounding the ugliness is a color scheme that suggests a fire-red hot dog with mustard. Very tacky. In contrast, note the sign in the image on the left. The lettering is nicely balanced in the relation to the overall rectangular sign, there is an image of a stagecoach (with a tasteful underline), and the black and white soften the garishness of the red/yellow hot dog vibe.

Even a 4-year-old could determine the more attractive of the two signs.

This is another classic "signage misstep" that we so often see in Nashville. Fumbles of this type, when multiplied, can "cartoon-ize" our built fabric. Very disappointing.


  1. Wells is a national company. So is this sign a local matter? I do agree that it looks dopey though... sort of a modern attempt to look old fashioned, at least as one would imagine "old" fashioned to look, a'la Frontierland at Disney World!

  2. The 4th Avenue Wells Fargo location appears to have the same approach as the previous Wachovia signage. Which is to use as much ridiculous space as allowed by codes. Unfortunately in cases like this with banks, brands need to be changed out in the shortest amount of time and aesthetics are not always taken in consideration.

    The new Wells Fargo brand is more akin to a fast food restaurant as opposed to the traditional "trusting colors" of blue and green used traditionally in banks. Fortunately for those hot dog cravings this new brand induces, there are some great vendors in Printers Alley!

  3. Ridiculous signage. Where is the metro councilman to help stop this?

  4. nashnative and anonymous with strong points. This simply should not be allowed to happen. I'll be contacting various Metro officials to get their take.