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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Creating Places: A look at WES

Some readers of this blog have said they are curious to get my take on the design of West End Summit. Thanks for your interest. I'll start with a basic overview and continue in a later post.

1. I like that Duda Paine is the architect. I just checked the firm's website (see here), and its portfolio of office towers reveals great variation from building to building. Duda Paine, clearly, is not stamping out sameness.

2. On that theme ... I would prefer that each WES building have its own distinct design. The sameness of the two could render a collective blandness than would otherwise be the case.

3. And on that theme ... In general, I'm not a fan of "twin towers." It seems very 1980s-ish.

4. BUT, if we're going to have twin towers, this site is well suited for them as it will provide a nice variety of access and viewing (particularly as seen from the north and south) points.

5. Both buildings offer a well-defined base, main section and cap. That is almost always a positive characteristic. Some have mocked the caps, noting they suggest the buildings are topped with mohawks. I can see that criticism. But the caps will give some added (and needed) height.

6. On the height theme, neither building will be more than 300 feet tall, rendering both (at least potentially) a bit stocky. And sited side by side, that stubbiness might be exaggerated (as a horizontal vibe will be as evident as the vertical aesthetic).

7. The exterior materials should be very attractive. The renderings suggest mainly glass and metal (ala The Pinnacle at Symphony Place). I would hope there will be some granite elements (and not concrete). Of note, the renderings suggest the glass will offer a slight pinkish hue. I would trust that will not be the actual color.

8. I'm hoping the motor court offers a water feature. It's not clear in the rendering but I seem to recall during my chats with Palmer & Co. officials years ago that a water feature will be strongly considered.

9.  On that theme, the main entrance should be relative attractive and (we would hope) not excessively "vehicle intense."

10. Note that the buildings are "layered" as they begin to stair-step vertically toward their caps. This will add some interesting definition but might, unfortunately, exaggerate the stockiness of the buildings. When buildings stair-step, they tend to assume an almost "wedding cake-like" form. I'm optimistic that won't be the case with WES.


  1. When is this project planned to start construction? I read last week that a pump was on site to drain the Lake Palmer. Any idea when might we expect to see workers and cranes at work here? Construction timetable?

    Any news on which hotel chain will be at the WES?

  2. Leslie,

    My understanding is we're looking at an early 2013 construction start.

    Palmer & Co. are still hoping to land an InterContinental Hotel.

    Not sure about the water draining.


  3. I think the pinkish hue is depicting a sunset...

  4. AMous 10:40,

    Yes, now that I look again, it seems you are correct. Good catch.