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, June 16, 2012

Creating Places: Random tidbits

Some quick hits as I ponder which late drummer's facial expressions I find more entertaining: Art Blakey or Buddy Rich

* I learned this week the garage for the Hyatt Place (currently under construction in SoBro) will primarily be above ground. This means only modest digging will be required, so we could see the structure at five stories by the end of this calendar year (unless there is a major delay). Kudos to my good friend Ron Brewer, who assisted with the updated garage info.

* Though it may seem difficult to believe, Nashville has more than 30 major projects underway, just started or just finished. Not bad given the sluggish economy.

* Watching the two recent NBA playoff games on TV and seeing the video of downtown Oklahoma City, I envy that town for now having Devon Tower, a striking 844-foot-tall skyscraper that has redefined OKC's image (along with the Thunder). Nashville needs a building of 750 feet or taller, as such a high-rise would send a strong message — one of "We are a city on the move" — to both locals and visitors alike. As to Devon Tower itself (read more here), Pickard Chilton was the architect. PC, along with Nashville-based stalwarts EOA, designed SoBro's The Pinnacle at Symphony Place.

* Of all the new construction we're seeing in Music City and of those buildings that are far from being completed (and, as such, require some effort so as to mentally visualize their final form), one that has me highly optimistic is Elliston 23. The building is already creating a nice wall along both Elliston Place and 23rd Avenue North. When finished, it should reach about 75 feet in height.

* The new law school building on the Belmont University campus is assuming a grand presence on its site.


  1. William - have you talked to Tony G lately? Just wondering what the latest was on his three newest proposed projects. Thanks!

  2. William, I had the same thought about Devon Tower in OKC as you did. I keep imagining Nashville finally breaking beyond the 30 story mode, but everytime someone offers up a building to do just that, it seems to fall apart. I still pray that someday Signature Tower will be built among other taller buildings that are needed to expand and enhance Nashville's skyline. If OKC can do it, I'm pretty sure it can be done in Nashville. For that matter if Charlotte can do it, so can Nashville.

    As for the parking garage at Hyatt Place being above ground, I think that's a mistake if that is the plan. Garages rarely offer up eye candy. If anything they tend to distract from the surroundings. The Reston Town Center in Reston, VA (where I work) probably made the best effort I've seen to disguise their above ground garages, by making them look a bit more like small office buildings, using heavy landscaping and one even has a trellis like structure with vines that are evenutally supposed to take over it. But, it's still a garage

    Question: I know you tend to concentrate on Midtown and West End, and sometimes SoBro. But I just want your thoughts on this. Has Nashville wasted too much prime real estate along the east bank of the cumberland between Memorial Bridge and I-265 to industrial park type facilities? When I lived in Nashville and every time I return home, I often think how beautiful it would look to have that stretch of land loaded with high rise office buildings, condos, apartments, boutique style stores, eateries and entertainment venues. How impressive that drive would be along the interstate. And, they wouldn't have to be 30 story buildings for it to be impressive. A stretch of 15-25-30 story buildings combined with townhomes and parks that connect areas via walking paths etc. would be excellent. And I think it could simply be called The East Bank. Currently the area is overrun with cemet and brick companies, along with one too many warehouse fronts.

  3. Horton Plaza in San Diego is a 5 story open in the middle mall which has a multi-story above ground parking garage.
    The portion of the garage facing a street has condos, so all one sees from the street are the condos, not the garage.
    Note: I would not want to live next to a garage but different strokes....

  4. I've been to Horton Plaza. I think it is fantastic. I visited the Mall in 90's. I loved the open interior. they did an exceptional job blending residential and retail. The only thing I didn't like is the big WestField name above Hortons Plaza. I know they are promoting their brand, but do we as consumers really care about the mall management company? To me it would have been more appropriate to place the WestField name under the Horton Plaza name... just me.