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, September 12, 2012

Creating Places: When copper is on top

As many of you likely know, I am a fan of buildings with metal elements. 
On this theme, Belmont University’s College of Law at the recently opened Randall and Sadie Baskin Center features one of the most eye-catching roof elements you will see in Nashville. Clad in copper, the building's dome was instantly iconic upon its construction. 
I recently learned that Nashville Roofing and Sheet Metal, a division of RSS Roofing Services and Solutions, constructed and installed the weatherproof copper dome. Interestingly, over the course of a two-year period, RSS worked closely with Earl Swensson Architects (ESa) and general contractor RC Mathews to design and pre-fabricate the copper flat-lock seam panels to ensure an accurate fit and a quality installation. 
Carlton McGrew, general manager of RSS's Nashville division, told me via email, “Given the dome had a double radius going in two different directions, with batten seams separating the segments, we had to execute the project in eight unique segments using a process of pattern planning.” 
Consider the execution flawlessly handled, Mr. McGrew.
Here is a photo:


  1. So if this dome is copper, exactly what is the similar colored material used on parts of the rooftop and siding of the new Music City Center?

    Enquiring minds want to know. Thanks William for researching this tidbit.


  2. Ken,

    That's a great question. I do not know but will attempt to find out. I assume by the rooftop, you mean the undercarriage of the eaves. It's brownish-copperish, and similar in color to parts of the side.



  3. I've noticed that too and wondered about it. It a caramel colored material that is used on the sides of the building and on parts of the roof area. It almost looks metallic, but I kinda doubt it is copper. Perhaps it is a composite or other manufactured material. I also noticed a lot more of it was used on the side facing the new Korean Vetrans Blvd of the convention center. I'd also like to know. This building is stunning!


  4. Jack,

    Yes, it is seemingly some type of composite surface. I like the sheen but I'm not so sure about the color.


    1. At first I didn't like the color, but it has quickly grown on me as I've viewed the bldg. from different angles and at different hours of the day. The colors and contrast are a big part of the design, but is especially noticeable when seen from the KVB side. I very much like the big, not boxy size, the appropriate scale, and general look of this entire project -- especially enjoy the flowing curves - rising with the terrain.

      It's great for downtown Nashville to have such an iconic new structure. Even 50 years ago few people would have ever imagined today's downtown Nashville.