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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Creating Places: Medical Mart update

Former City Paper reporter Kyle Swenson has penned a Cleveland Scene piece in which he reports that Nashville's proposed medical trade center project is dead.

Read here.

I have no idea as to the accuracy of this story (though I knew Swenson to be a fine reporter when he toiled in Nashville). But I do know this: At some point very soon (I would suppose by mid-2012), Market Center Management Co. will need to either begin construction or scrap this project altogether. Very few folks I talk to now believe the development will happen (even though we would all like to see it), and such skepticism is likely creating challenges in the development team's landing tenants.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Creating Places: Homewood (not so) Suites

At left is a rendering of the Homewood Suites hotel planned for the northwest corner of 24th and West End avenues. The site was last home to the F.Y.E. building, with its stately stone facade (originally, there was hope it might be spared) ready for the wrecking ball. Based on the rendering (which, in fairness, might not offer the best representation of what we will actually get), there is much about the HSuites building I dislike. I anticipate lots of cream stucco, pinkish brick, basic windows, etc. The building simply screams of the type bland, design-uninspired hotel one would commonly see in CoolSprings. There is nothing distinctive, cool or "big city" about the structure. I am pleased that it will be seven stories (the two buildings on the site and soon to be razed rise no more than 30 feet) and that it will have no significant surface parking. But beyond those two pluses, I simply can't find anything else to praise. An unanswered question: Will the building address Elliston Place in any manner? I was hopeful there would be an entrance fronting the corner of 24th and Elliston but the rendering suggests otherwise. Of note, Robert Rodgers, the Memphis-based developer of the building, also developed the even-more-generic Hampton Inn that fronts Elliston. A Vanderbilt grad, Rodgers (in a press release) noted he wanted to give the area a building that blends nicely with the campus. I assume the man's intentions were honorable. And I recognize that we need hotels and that the interior of the Homewood Suites might be stellar. Still, it is frustrating a more exciting exterior design for the Homewood Suites building could not have been envisioned.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Creating Places: A fine shot of Cumberland Park

A long-time chum and fellow built environment follower recently shot this photo of Cumberland Park with his mobile phone. Well done, my friend.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Creating Places: Predictions

Currently, there are seven residential buildings of 50 or more units under construction (or set to start very soon) within Nashville's core. Here is one man's prediction as to how they will rank, when finished, in terms of their form and function (Note: I considered various factors, including materials, massing, context related to nearby buildings and mixture of uses):

1. Pine Street Flats
2. Elliston 23
3. Vista Germantown
4. Park 25 (the "wild card" of this group, with the potential to be No. 1)
5. Eleven North
6. Midtown Place
7. West End Village