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, December 19, 2012
Creating Places: MZA designs Village building
In an interesting twist, Manuel Zeitlin Architects has designed the Hillsboro Village building that will replace the vintage masonry structure from which the company has long operated and must soon move. Seen below, the building will likely represent that most contemporary structure H.G. Hill Realty has developed to date (including 12South Flats).
Let's look at the positives and negatives of the exterior design.
* The building (for which a name has yet to be announced) offers an interesting array of shapes, combining both horizontal and vertical forms. I suppose a critic might argue the building is excessively "busy" due to this feature. But I like it.
* As many of you know, I favor the neutral colors. The rendering suggests various shades of gray. Again, critics will call that "drab." But I see "industrial" and "permanent."
* I don't know what materials will be used, but I do know MZA typically shuns stucco. So that's good. I would suppose the structure will be clad in metal and tile. It could even have some Hardie siding.
* I like how the building's right section elevates to three levels as it steps back.
* The corner restaurant piece is well defined and could even offer garage doors (it's difficult to determine).
* I'm a major fan of well-designed contemporary structures, and this building surely will be an example given MZA's track record (the firm's Terrazzo and the Tennessee Association of Realtors Building are stellar).
However, Hillsboro Village is appealing, in large part, because of brick and stone buildings — the Belmont United Methodist Church and all the structures on the west side of 21st (notwithstanding the horrendously bland credit union building) being the highlights. Even the little homes with eateries and on Belcourt Avenue lend a certain understated charm.
This building, in contrast, will be anything but charming. It should be very sleek, energy efficient and eye-catching, but my concern is that it might wildly contrast with most of the other buildings in the Village, particularly those on 21st. True, there are some other contemporary structures in the district (for example, the building home to Sunset Grill) that work well. And the MZÅ/Hill building will be sited across the street from a gas station (which, by its nature, offers a somewhat industrial vibe).
Maybe the Village could use a more 21st century feel and, as such, this structure will fit nicely. For now, I'll remain hopeful.