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.
Friday, August 31, 2012
site for details of the type project that might loom for the Westmont site.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Omni officials are now offering a video (view here via YouTube) that suggests the building's exterior — originally and seemingly not much more than a modernist box with square green-tinted windows — might actually be decent. The structure actually shows some fairly interesting forms, particularly on its south wall (see middle image). To date, we have seen the south wall — and in a limited fashion — only in the top rendering. The middle image shows clearly a glass strip running along the top three floors that right-angles down the right side of the tower. Of note, this side of the tower (which fronts KVB) shows a well-defined base, mid-section and cap. I'm still not a fan of the square windows as they remind me of the windows of the Davy Crockett Building (bottom image) located on James Robertson Parkway on the central business district's northern fringe. It's fair to say Omni will not rank among Nashville's five best tall buildings but it should be a solid addition to the both the skyline and the streetscape.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
The photos found at this link to a skyscraper city.com thread reveal lots of solid infill in Alabama's largest city. (Scroll down seven posts to begin the "photo tour.")
Given I consider Birmingham a peer city (to some extent) more so than most people I know, I would be curious to get any feedback.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
1. The intersection of Ash Street, Fourth Avenue South and Lafayette Street creates a small triangle of sorts. I cannot determine if a private entity owns the tiny parcel but I would think not. If Metro owns the land, it offers a prime spot for a piece of public art.
2. Lea Avenue. As my good friend (and frequent Urban Planet Nashville poster) Brett Withers notes, this east-west street creates a major challenge, as it angles at various points with no consistent connectivity to the north-south streets it crosses or T-intersects. In fact, from Tenth Avenue South on the west to Hermitage Avenue on the east, Lea is "broken" five times, likely rendering it SoBro's least functional street. That said, I would not want the street straightened, as that would require a cost (and perhaps substantial) for right-of-way acquisition. Some folks might desire the sharply angled Lea segment spanning Sixth and Fifth avenues to be closed. I would oppose that move, too. The reality is that Lea might have to remain essentially "as is" in terms of layout. However, I would like to see consideration of a smallish traffic circle where Lea crosses (at a slight angle) Third Avenue. A segment of the fire station land on the southeast corner could be used to accommodate the circle. With that move, Lea would a bit more effectively span Fifth on the west to Rutledge Street on the east. That alone would help. Perhaps some readers will have stronger recommendations. I would be curious to hear.
3. I feel Third Avenue South needs to be treated more like an actual street. Given Second and Fifth avenues are one way north and Fourth and Sixth avenues are one-way south, I would hope Third would be kept a two-way street to maximize efficient traffic flow. But, instead of stop signs currently at its intersections, I would prefer to see traffic lights. With lights and a traffic circle (as noted above) at Lea, Third would begin to assume a more urban street form and function. This might spur some infill development.
More to follow, including a look at Urban Design Associates.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I'll have more on UDA soon, but I will begin with a few recommendations as to improving SoBro and that might be incorporated into the master plan.
1. (To Metro Public Works officials): Modify Peabody Street from Fourth Avenue on the east to Seventh Avenue on the west. This segment of the street either needs widening (a possibly expensive proposition, admittedly) or should be converted to one way. With the vastly altered KVB only one block to the north, having a street this dysfunctional and so close to what will be a major urban boulevard once it opens seems contradictory — and jarring.
2. (To NES officials): Enlist the opinion of the Nashville Civic Design Center before you skin your substation building located at Sixth and KVB. Gary Gaston and his team "get it." They will know the right materials, forms, color scheme, etc., to give your building a cool exterior vibe.
3. (To MDHA Design Review Committee members): Don't meddle with the design Tony Giarratana has for his proposed residential high-rise SoBro. The good folks at Loewenberg Architects know what they're doing. Trust them.
4. (To public works officials, once more): If you are eventually going to place "SoBro" banners on the district's utility poles, please don't do so unless you use two cross arms per one pole. Having a banner affixed to an upper bar and a lower eyelet will not keep that banner secured — as has been glaringly proven with the banners in The Gulch and along the Demonbreun Viaduct.