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, April 4, 2012

Creating Places: Vista Germantown assessment


A recent visit to Germantown revealed that construction of Vista Germantown, its north face notwithstanding, is almost completed. And I must say the opinions from locals will vary wildly. Some will contend the building, designed by Nashville-based Southeast Venture, is outlandishly designed, an odd hodgepodge of shapes, materials and colors. For example, the north side (seen in the photo on near left and with cars) and the east side both have surface areas (not including doors, windows, signage and railings) with eight different colors. I was not so OCD enough to count the total number of colors between the two sides but it must be at least 10. Critics likely will lambaste this feature.
(I can foresee the laughs: "It looks like somebody ate a bunch of crayons and vomited.") But somehow this multi-colored approach works for me, in part because there is no other building in Nashville with such a varied color palette. The colors alone render Vista Germantown truly eye-catching. Another interesting design feature involves the building's northeast and northwest corners. The former leads to a space that will soon house the restaurant Silo, while the latter (seen in the photo to the far left) takes the pedestrian into the leasing/marketing/management office. It's rare to see a Nashville building with two activated corners.

On a negative note, I'm a bit pessimistic about Vista Germantown's south side (which overlooks Jefferson Street), and the east side is noticeable for its parking garage entrance. Neither side shines. However, this big and bold building delivers nice height, massing and distinctiveness. And it will fill the streets of Germantown with young urbanites — a good thing. No doubt, Vista Germantown ranks among the most unusual of the city's post-2000 urban infill residential buildings.

Grade: B plus

5 comments:

  1. It's actually the South facade that faces Jefferson Street, the side that isn't completed. The North side of the building is mostly complete.

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  2. A-Mous,

    Good catch. I just changed.

    WW

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  3. now if they would just seriously upgrade that neighborhood kroger store OR (even better) build a publix! germantown is beginning to resemble the neighborhood just north of "uptown" charlotte...just not quite as close to the core, sadly.

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  4. A-Mous 2,

    Agree fully. I've been to the district in Charlotte (you mention) and there are some similarities. In about five years, Germantown is going to be a very cool mixed-use urban district. It's getting there but some key elements (more buildings, more retail and simply more people) are still needed.

    WW

    ReplyDelete
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