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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Creating Places: 4th and Monroe

Good to see the Germantown development 4th & Monroe will have a second shot at success, as it has been bought out of foreclosure. Reportedly, the buyer will lease the residential spaces — a smart move in this economic environment.

Of note EOA Architects designed 4th & Monroe in a very traditional manner (noteworthy given EOA opts for cutting-edge design) for then-developer Traditional Urban Concepts. Often, 21st century architecture made to "look vintage" fails. But 4th & Monroe is quite tasteful, with an interesting mix of brick colors, angles and forms.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Creating Places: Random Observations

A few thoughts as we prepare for the big man with the red suit, bulbous nose and white chin beard to visit...

* One of the more interesting views of downtown can be enjoyed at the intersection of 12th Avenue South and South Street.

* The building to be home to the Nordstrom at The Mall at Green Hills is topped and showing strong massing.

* Google Streetview reveals various cities that, like Nashville, lack quality sidewalk networks located 2 to 5 miles from their respective urban cores. Examples include Syracuse, Oklahoma City and Houston.

* Glad to see Smith Gee Studio is handling design work for Ryman Lofts (to be located in Rolling Mill Hill). SGS is a progressive architectural firm that will deliver a quality building.

* I wonder if the project slated for 24th and West End avenues (to include a hotel) will affect (i.e., sidetrack) the proposed mixed-use project (to include a hotel) at 18th and West End avenues.

* A downtown skyscraper I admire more and more as time passes is the SunTrust Building (formerly the Third National Bank Building), located at the northwest corner of the Fourth Avenue North and Church Street intersection. This mini-masterpiece has a well-defined base (highlighted by limestone and a fairly grand entrance), shaft (bathed in dark glass) and cap (note the gold highlights).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Creating Places: Good-bye to "Tower Building"

If the 2400 West End project (for hotel and wine bar space) materializes, Midtown will lose a 1920s-built structure with some classic features. The building, currently home to FYE and best known as the former space of Tower Records, offers at its entrance two pilasters with ionic capitals, a cornice and a roof line with a balustrade. Also, the main door is extremely close to the sidewalk. That's the type old-school entrance arrangement we don't see much with new construction (as car usage often dictates otherwise). I like the facade of this building and will hate to see it go. But the replacement will offer a mixture of uses and, likely, a scale more suitable for that site. Let's hope the design is as effective as the function.