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.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Creating Places: Buckingham project update

Last week, I posted on the Nashville Post blog site some info regarding Buckingham Cos. and its mixed-use project proposed for the Midtown site at which 21st Avenue and Division Street converge. Read more here.

This rendering suggests the buildings — or various buildings acting as one — could offer various plusses and negatives. I like the potential of the intricacies of the structure, as it shows various traditional shapes, forms and patterns. I also find it interesting that the entirety of the main level seemingly is devoted to retail space. I can't think of many tall/wide Nashville buildings with such a sea of retail at their bases (Icon would be an exception). In addition, I think the roof of the portion of the building facing 21st (note its sloping shape and the various gables) could play nicely off the roofs of the nearby (and fully under construction) College Halls at Kissam (check this image).

My main concern is that the building (no name has been announced) could be covered in red cream and yellow cream stucco and feature very cheap windows. Essentially, it could look, to some degree, like a massive — with inexpensive faux-trad detailing — stucco-clad interstate motel. Also, the building could be very "busy." I could visualize its attempts to look and function like multiple buildings failing, rendering the structure a massive mess of dissimilar sections that neither work well together nor well separately.

Lastly, I'm not convinced this project will materialize. Buckingham is proposing the structure be 479,000 square feet and carry a price tag of about $100 million. This cost is steep and even seems slightly under-estimated. Many tall buildings will cost a minimum of $7 million per floor (and as much as $15 million). Though the Buckingham structure is not a skyscraper in the strict sense, it is so massive and multi-shaped, it might cost up to $10 million per floor. The main section is 12 stories, while the hotel piece (at left and in red) would seem to be 17. Let's call it 13 on the whole and, at $10 million per floor, that's $130 million. At the least, I could still see $8 million per floor (or $104 million). Also remember that some of the building is planned for condo space, and I'm not convinced the Nashville market is ready for condo buyers wanting to live in a building with apartment units, too.

Having said all that, I hope I'm proved wrong and the building materializes and is both attractive and functional.


  1. Any plans to speak with the developer about these concerns?

  2. AMous,

    Yes. I've called once and BHam is not saying much at this point. But I hope to get back in touch.