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, September 10, 2011

Creating Places: Vista Germantown

Drove by V-Germantown today and saw two brick colors: a dark brown and a tan. I like the contrast. On this theme, why do developers sometimes use brick with a faint pinkish hue? I've never understood it. Such color emasculates a building.


  1. Hi William,

    As a lady, I take offense at your continuous use of "masculine" to denote good design. Do a search on your own articles; you use that word a lot. Is there a well-designed building in Nashville that you were consider "feminine?" If not, consider a thesaurus. I am personally tired of the ubiquitous "masculine" in your blog and articles and consider it an ineffective description.

    A Chick in Nashville

  2. I second that, and was about to write something to the effect that maybe the builders wanted to feminize the building, instead of masculinizing it. Indeed, what exactly do you mean by such terms? And since your descriptions are so vague and short, maybe you could take a picture. I mean, if you're only going to post say, once in a fortnight, and you're only going to write a sentence or two, then that gives you like, I don't know, thousands of minutes of extra time to take a picture or two.

  3. While I often enjoy the articles you capably write for the City Paper, the value of this blog to your readers would be immeasurably improved if you'd commit to photographing your subjects and offering a more thoroughly considered commentary, complete with precedent comparisons, greater context, and an architectural vocabulary. That you happen to like or dislike a particular building is an insufficient basis for design criticism.

  4. Friends,

    Points well made. I will soon provide a detailed explanation of what I mean by a "masculine" building. I prefer dark colors, as they give buildings a "rugged" look. In contrast, commercial and multi-unit residential buildings that incorporate cream-colored stucco elements render a building's appearance flimsy and impermanent.

    I fully understand what you mean regarding the "gender" suggestions, and will no longer use such language. Criticism taken.

    I also agree I need to have more art with my posts. Will work on that.



  5. C'mon guys, give William a break! This is by far one of the coolest blogs I read on the internet. I don't always agree with William's critiques, but at least he is putting it out there and allowing us to comment. If you guys want photos and proper vocabulary, go do your own blogs! Its not like you guys are paying a subscription to read this!!! This is his hobby that he does on his own time. He can say as much or as little as he wants.

    As far as "feminizing" a building, examine the shapes, massing, and details. If the bones look masculine, then why add feminine features? Unless, you want your building to be in drag. So, its not about only "masculine" being considered as good design. Its about combining all the elements together to form a successful design....masculine or feminine.

    Keep up the good work, William!!!

  6. You don't need to apologize, William! If you think the building does not need pink brick, then there is nothing wrong with you saying it!!! The same goes for it were a masculine color on a feminine style building.

    Call it like you see, my friend. Don't let the PC police get to you.

  7. Friends,

    I sincerely appreciate all the feedback. As A-Mous in Response No. 5 notes, I'm a hobbyist -- and unskilled with a camera. BUT, I do want to use more photos with the posts, and I also want to be respectful with the language I use. As all of you likely know by now, I feel large buildings should look sturdy. Pinkish brick and cream stucco, for examples, can sometimes simply render a building, well, sickly and soft (I avoided "feminine" or "less than masculine" and will continue to do so as those are poor choices of words.)

    Thanks again for the feedback,