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, July 30, 2011

Creating Places: A Fine Future Vista

Of all the recently released renderings for the expanded Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, this image perhaps most caught my attention. Nashville — with its hilly terrain, river and some distinctive large buildings — offers a respectable number of interesting vistas from afar. But for the pedestrian, the up-close street-level vista offerings are modest, the result of an urban core that lacks street blocks along which both sides are lined with buildings. There are some exceptions, including both Fourth and Fifth avenues between Church and Union streets, and Church Street spanning two blocks (Fifth to Fourth to Third avenues). Sadly, however, far too many blocks in both Downtown and Midtown have "missing teeth" — gaps in blocks that typically feature surface parking or, in a few cases, simply empty lots. As such, the above rendering makes me all the more excited to know that eventually the block of Fifth Avenue South from KVB to Demonbreun Street will be "filled in" by the Music City Center on the west side of the street and the Omni Hotel/CMHofFM on the east side. This "wall" of built fabric could prove to be one of Nashville most impressive.


  1. It seems like all you do is complain about Nashville. I use to enjoy reading your material, not as of late. You've become too sophisticated for Nashville...move to Europe.

  2. I agree with William's assesment and did not think he was complaining. I enjoy your take on Nashville's built fabric William and would love to see Nashville really embrace that building philosophy. A pedestrian built city that begs to be walked and enjoyed is always attractive and inviting to visitors.

  3. William Williams is an excellent writer and observer of Nashville and its buildings and infrastructure. There is no one else in this city who offers this type of perspective and commentary. I think of him as our own local Paul Goldberger. Always an interesting observation worth reading.