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, September 22, 2013

Creating Places: Random tidbits

As the weekend concludes, a few quick hits:

* The vertical lights at the top of the Omni Hotel Nashville are very attractive and eye-catching. Likewise, the street-level activation along Fifth is strong. This building has turned out much better than I was expecting.

* Anil Patel's mixed-use project at 18th and West End avenues is now on the second floor and should rise quickly.

* What about the new-look building at 17th and West End and home to Metropolitan Bank? Very nice. The color scheme (charcoal and medium gray) and signage are of quality.

* Will West End Summit materialize? I have no idea.

* The Fairfield Inn on Division Street in The Gulch has been topped. Now it's time for the skin. Perhaps surprisingly, I feel optimistic.

* I continue to be pleased with the Homewood Suites on West End Avenue. It seems about 80 percent (if not more) finished.

* Adam Leibowitz broke ground last week on what he is now calling Amplify on Main, to be located in East Nashville. Adam is a good man and I'm very happy to see him move forward on this project.

* Relatedly, developer Justin Hicks has two developments planned for the east side. They should both be strong.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Creating Places: Traditional architecture in the spotlight

We've seen this countless times. Nashville is losing another vintage gem, as demolition began last week on the three-story apartment building located at 2305 Elliston Place. With the brick-and-stone structure soon to be no more, the list of tasteful pre-World War II-constructed buildings that have met the wrecking ball since the late 1990s (the rough start of the urban infill boom in Nashville) grows. Other fallen jewels the past 15 years or so  include, among others, The Jacksonian, the Masonic Lodge on Broadway (at the site of the proposed West End Summit), the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ, Saint Ann's Episcopal Church (due to the 1998 tornado), The Maberta, the row of commercial buildings in Hillsboro Village, the little masonry buildings on Church Street (across from the Y), a church in Waverly-Belmont near Zanies (I forget the name), the Hathcock Building on Ninth, a terra cotta beauty at Third and Church and the former home of Mario's. There have been many others but memory is bad and, regardless, forgetting such losses is good for my blood pressure.

Given Nashville doesn't have much old-school built fabric (single-family homes notwithstanding) to begin with, I am more than comfortable with the city's having landed some new buildings that replicate the traditional model. I acknowledged that purists would argue a 21st century building should show a contemporary design aesthetic and, generally speaking, I agree. But because this city has gone berserk since the 1960s razing hundreds of beautiful old buildings, I can both live with and advocate the introduction of "replica" buildings. On that theme, here is a list of my favorites "neo-traditional" building constructed in Nashville during the past approximately 15 years:

Tier One

Schermerhorn Symphony Center
Main Library
The "New Jacksonian" (on West End Avenue)
Fifth & Garfield in Salemtown
Vanderbilt University College Halls at Kissam (under construction)
Vanderbilt University Commons
Belmont University Raskin Law School Building
Belmont University Wedgewood Academic Center (under construction and fronting Wedgewood)
Belmont University Gordon Inman Health Sciences Building (fronting Wedgewood)
Covenant Presbyterian Church (Green Hills)
The Maxwell in West End Park
The Gordon Wing at University School (at the corner of Edgehill and 19th)

Tier Two

Fourth and Monroe in Germantown (across from City House restaurant)
West End Close (condos on West End Avenue at Craighead)
The Acropolis (located at Avoca and Parthenon in West End Park)
The Astoria  (the limestone building in Bedford Commons in Green Hills)
The brick/stone building in Bedford Commons (with the cupola and home to Oxford Shop)
A.A. Burch Building (fails to address street effectively enough to merit a place in Tier One)
The Southgate in the 3800 block of West End
The Row at 31st (old-school townhomes that, unfortunately, are covered by trees)

Tier Three

Phillips Place (on Long Boulevard in West End Park)
Park 30 (near Centennial Park)
Hassenfeld Library at University School at 21st and Edgehill
Ten Ten on the Row (on 16th Avenue South)
2110, 2112 and 2114 Acklen in Hillsboro Village (also a version on Long in West End Park)
Bell Hillsboro Village (on 21st and sited adjacent to a vintage gem)
The Artie Lee (3102 West End Circle in West End Park)

Planned and should be stellar

Luxus Germantown
2151 Building at 22nd and Acklen
Marriott hotel in Bedford Commons

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Creating Places: A quick look at Chattanooga

As I returned to Nashville last week following a trip to Chattanooga, I mentally assessed the Scenic City as a small version of Portland, Ore. In many respects, the similarities are striking. Both are located on large rivers (the Tennessee and the Willamette) and within the foothills of major mountain ranges (the Smoky and the Tualatin mountains). Both offer a significant number of citizens who embrace the outdoors, "green construction" and socio-politically progressive lifestyles. Both are home to fairly large public universities that are not particularly well known outside their respective states: the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Portland State University. And both cities are filled with numerous small, older buildings.  

But  perhaps the key similarity is that the urban cores of both Chattanooga and Portland are pockmarked by very few dead spaces similar to those that mar Nashville (i.e., massive surface parking lots, car dealerships and huge swaths of unused green space). In Chattanooga, six urban districts flow nicely into each other. Though the North Shore (one of the six) is "severed" from the Riverfront and Bluff View districts by the Tennessee River, the pedestrian- and cyclist-oriented Walnut Street Bridge, two stellar riverfront parks (Renaissance and Coolidge) and the vibrant Frazier Avenue minimize that separation.

Indeed, many positive things are happening in Chattanooga. For example, there is some very tasteful recent and current construction (primarily in or near Bluff View). The city's bike share program has about 30 stations and the bikes are strikingly attractive. Perhaps the most noteworthy element on the "place making front" is the evolution of Southside. I stayed at The Crash Pad, a platinum LEED certified hostel, and got a strong taste of the district, the key thoroughfares for which are Market and Main streets. The latter offers an Enzo's Market grocery store (with a wine shop positioned next to it, no less). Though there are some parallels with the Turnip Truck in The Gulch, Enzo's sells both natural/organics and mainstream fare.  

Outside Chattanooga's urban core, I checked St. Elmo (a very cool mixed-use district) and Glass Street (located northeast of downtown). The latter has a long way to go but shows some potential to be a neat little commercial pocket.

In a surprise move, I got a personal tour (thanks goes to Janna Jahn, board chair of The Engel Foundation) of historic Engel Stadium — the timeless baseball park that was used to portray Ebbets Field in the Jackie Robinson tribute movie 42. What a treasure.

In summary, Chattanooga has a palpable vibe. In a way, I like that there are no skyscrapers. It's a pedestrian friendly city with its urban fabric flowing from the North Shore on the north to 20th street on the south, an approximately two-mile stretch filled with vintage masonry buildings (including far more historic commercial buildings than Nashville sports). I had visited the city many times previously, but this was my first time to spend the night and explore it thoroughly. At some point soon, I will return and do so again.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Creating Places: Chattanooga bound

The last time I visited Chattanooga, my chin beard still had some color and I lived in East Nashville. During the six years since, the city has undergone some impressive changes. I'm headed for Chattanooga this morning, with a full report to follow by Sunday.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Creating Places: Random tidbits

There is much to report and, as such, I will soon provide a detailed overview and update of various projects.

Until then, here are a few things that have caught my attention the past week or so:

* The updating of the building that will be home to Metropolitan Bank is progressing nicely. The stucco building, which addresses both West End Avenue and Broadway and which will sit in the shadow of West End Summit, has been given a two-toned exterior color update (dark and medium gray) that looks strong. In addition, new signage has been added.

* The Omni Nashville Hotel street-level space along Korean Veterans Boulevard is very eye catching. In fact, and notwithstanding the painfully blank Fourth Avenue side of the building, the Omni exterior is far more attractive than I anticipated. The recent progress (the addition of vertical blue lights at the building's crown is a particular highlight) has rendered a quality design.

* I am curious to get the opinions of those readers who have seen the exterior design of The Pub, located in Pine Street Flats in The Gulch. Some folks might contend The Pub's traditional colors, materials and forms (which mimic an historic English tavern entrance) jarringly contrast with the otherwise contemporary Pine Street Flats exterior. However, I find the street-level space very inviting and classy. It will be interesting to see how the exterior for fellow PSFlats restaurant Burger Republic ends up looking.

* Work on the Hill Realty building located at the Broadway and Division split in Midtown continues, with the building showing outstanding potential to be very distinctive once finished. The shape has been modified in such a way to present an almost flat iron-esque form. I'm liking it more and more.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Creating Places: Save the Hull


Thanks for your patience. I have not posted in more than two weeks given the discontinuation of City Paper publishing. The paper was a major part of my life and to see it put to rest has been emotional. Furthermore, the Creating Places column got its start in the City Paper print version in early 2005 and, with the paper no more (print or web) I even considered ending this blog. But after some thought, I've decided to forge ahead with this site.

On this theme, I will be resuming my standard approximately "two modest postings per week schedule" very soon. Until then, here is something that has me very pleased: a grassroots effort to save the Cordell Hull building downtown.

Take a look here.

The more I've thought about the Hull being felled, the more concerned I have become. Nashville's central business district has enough "dead space," and to create additional would be shameful. Some folks might argue that a "nice green space" would be fine. I could not disagree more. Downtown has numerous green spaces and does not need another — particularly if a modernist mini-masterpiece must be razed.

I commend Cornelia Pearson and all the folks who took the initiative to create and/or sign this petition. Good for them and may their efforts be rewarded.

Save the Hull ...


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Creating Places: Omni GM Q&A

With the Omni Hotel in SoBro slated to open Sept. 30, I touched based with General Manger Dan Piotrowski  to get his thoughts as to how the building will interact with the public realm. Via email, here is what Piotrowski had to say. 

Will you have an interior retail shop/market that the general public can use?
Absolutely, Five & TENN will feature everything Nashville. Omni is working to have a vast majority of the items sold in this shop proudly made in Tennessee.

How many of Omni's retail spaces will be accessible to the public via Fifth Avenue?
Four outlets will be accessible via Fifth Avenue: Bongo Java Coffee Shop, Bob’s Steak & Chop House, Barlines Live Music Venue and the retail shop. 
Omni will be the owner/operator of the venues.

How will motorists access the building and, as such, what type pedestrian safety safeguards will you put into place?
Omni will offer 24/7 valet parking at the main entrance on Korean Veterans Blvd.  Fifth Avenue will be very walkable. Omni will have a two additional hotel entrances located across from the Music City Center.
When will the Omni sign at the building's top and facing north be lit?
The sign will be lit by Labor Day.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Creating Places: Musings on modernism

After having recently watched The Fountainhead, a 1949 film about an architect who steadfastly advocates a modernist aesthetic in the face of traditionalism, I got to thinking about some of Nashville's best modernist buildings.

Here is a fine example (courtesy of Google Streetview): The Doctors Pavilion building located at 1916 Patterson St. in Midtown. I've always rather liked this building, finding it very underrated. Clad in brick, the structure offers a clearly defined entrance on Patterson and a cap featuring a pronounced eaves. The color scheme is tasteful, and the vertical window columns (a feature I typically don't care for on buildings of this style) provide the building a needed sense of height.

Grade: B


Monday, July 22, 2013

Creating Places: Charlotte faces a challenge with changes

Following a fine piece in The City Paper about the future of Charlotte Avenue, penned by my SouthComm colleague J.R. Lind (read here), I must say I am not as high on Charlotte as many others. Obviously, I want to see the street reach its full potential and be as interesting, pedestrian friendly and vibrant as possible. But the shortcomings are numerous.

They are as follows: 

1. The street is excessively linear, with very few commercial spaces on the side streets (its Midtown segment notwithstanding). True, there are some impressive urban streets in other cities that are extremely linear in their commercial fabric. East Carson Street in Pittsburgh and Bardstown Road in Louisville, like Charlotte Avenue, stretch for many, many blocks and feature few commercial spaces on their respective side streets. But those two streets are much more narrow than Charlotte Avenue and offer significant housing/people density on either side. Carson and Bardstown also are defined by eye-catching vintage architecture, too, (which is lacking on Charlotte) so perhaps it is unfair to use them for this example. South Boulevard in Charlotte, N.C., might make for a better comparison but that street and its multi-block stretch of commercial spaces infilled nicely the past 15 years or so, in large part, due to its proximity to light rail line The Lynx, which runs on nearby Camden Road. 

 2. The 10-block stretch of Charlotte between I-440/33rd Avenue on the east and 43rd Avenue on the west is simply brutal, as crappy buildings, garish signage and weed-strewn lots line the segment. It would take a brave developer to undertake along that hellish span a building with, for example, retail on the first floor and residential on floors two through four.

3. During the last 10 years, Charlotte from 1-440 on the east to White Bridge Road on the west has seen little (if any) new construction that would both act as a catalyst and nudge hesitant would-be developers off the fence. There has been a reason for that. True, the stretch from the inner interstate loop to I-440 has gotten some new construction but that infill has been modest overall. I do like the proposed The Sheds on Charlotte project. And One City could be huge. But there are, and will remain, excessive segments of the street that remain underutilized and/or ugly.

4. Nashville's population growth (currently between about 1.7 percent and 2 percent annually) can accommodate the significant growth of only so many mixed-use urban districts. As such, there will simply be some areas that many of us might agree show great potential but that simply don't take off given mathematical realities. Very simply, Nashville already has multiple mixed-use districts that have seen serious post-2000 changes in terms of new construction, including Five Points/Main Street, Germantown, The Gulch, Hillsboro Village, Midtown and SoBro. How many more such districts can a city of this size accommodate?

Having said all this, I could see H.G. Hill Realty Co. beginning work sometime in  2014 on its Charlotte Avenue building at the carwash/railroad tracks/40th Avenue. If so, that would be hugely helpful as it could spur some additional new construction. 

Many folks have been talking about Charlotte Avenue and its great potential for at least two years but no boom has hit. In fact, I don't recall any new construction west of I-440 and to White Bridge Road. The adaptive reuse projects and the new businesses that are redefining the street are wonderful and will be part of the positive evolution of Charlotte. But it will take no fewer than five large-scale buildings for that stretch to truly pop. Until those structures rise, I will take a very measured and realistic approach to Charlotte's short-term redevelopment prospects.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Creating Places: Random tidbits

There is lots happening in the city, enough so to tempt me to say Nashville is in "full boom mode." Whether the city can actually explode with, say, three times the number of projects we currently have underway (which, depending on how you define "project," would be upwards of 100 developments) is hard to  say. Our population is currently growing at about 1.7 to 2 percent annually (or no more than 20 percent over a 10-year Census Bureau span). For a massive development boom, we would need to get that up to about 3 percent (if not more). Until that happens (if it ever does), there is still much to follow. A few examples:

* Work has resumed on the SoBro site of the Hilton Garden Inn. Read here.

* Does the start of construction of Gulch Crossing loom? Read here

* The under-construction Fairfield Inn by Marriott in The Gulch is now on Floor 4 and taking on some very nice definition.

* The Homewood Suites at 24th and West End avenues is showing some tasteful brick and stone exterior cladding.

* An October groundbreaking has been set for Artisan Lofts, to face Rosa Parks Boulevard and sit in Hope Gardens next to Row 8.9n. Read more here.

* I am liking more and more the color combination found with the brick and Hardie siding exterior on 12South Flats.

* Ray Hensler's Gulch luxury apartment tower is now on Floor 3.

* Tony Giarratana is closer to making his SoBro apartment tower a reality. Read here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Creating Places: Major design firms impact city

(Note: I wrote this for Nashville Post but thought some readers might not see. So, I'm posting here.)

Last week's announcement that Giarratana Nashville LLC intends to use global architecture firm Gensler to design a proposed tower to house a Marriott hotel was newsworthy (read here) in that the city likely has never seen a more high-profile design company undertake work here.
To date, the most high-profile architecture companies to do work in Nashville (based on various sources) likely have been HOK Sport Venue Event (which designed the Bridgestone Arena and LP Field and is now called Populous and, at the time, part of heavy-hitter HOK Group), Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (Fifth Third Center) and Skidmore Owings & Merrill (Snodgrass Tower). Some would contend SO&M remains more "big time" than Gensler (based on various criteria, including venerability).
Gensler (read more here) has about 3,500 employees working in 43 offices internationally and has designed some of the world’s most high-profile buildings, including the World Trade Center in Saudi Arabia and the Government Communications Headquarters in the United Kingdom. In 2012, the San Francisco-based company generated the most revenue of any architecture firm based in the United States, according to Architectural Record. ArchDaily ranks Gensler the world's No. 2 design firm based on number of employees (read here).
Interestingly, Giarratana Nashville is working with Loewenberg Architects for the proposed SoBro, a 33-story tower the local company hopes to co-develop with Chicago-based Magellan Development Group LLC (read more here). Also, Giarratana hopes to use Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill for its planned 505 CST. Both can be found on lists for the nation's Top 200 design firms.
Relatedly, Thompson, Ventulett, Stainbeck and Associates (Music City Center) and KA Architects (Icon in The Gulch) are highly respected and found on various rankings lists.
The bottom line: These are the exciting times for Nashville related to high-profile national architectural firms both doing and hoping to do work here. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Creating Places: The most 'Nashville-like' city

As the conclusion looms for another weekend — this one highlighted by Art Deco-era cars and some quality Mayday beer — I ask a question: What U.S. city is most like Nashville?

Here are a few that come to mind:

* Austin. Like Nashville, it's a state capital, has a great music scene, is hilly, is home to lots of cool young people and is positively perceived by many folks nationwide. In contrast, Austin has one university (the University of Texas) of note (to Nashville's "big four" of Belmont, Lipscomb, Tennessee State and Vanderbilt universities), has a demographic makeup that shows more Hispanics than African-Americans (Nashville offers the opposite of that ethnic composition) and has already gotten in the game with mass transit.

* Charlotte. Similarities between the Queen City and Music City include topography, a modest collection of vintage masonry buildings (Nashville has more, which doesn't say much for Charlotte) and their status as their respective states' "main city" despite tough competition (Memphis for Nashville and Raleigh-Durham for Charlotte). There is also a similarity in ethnic/racial numbers. In contrast, Charlotte's Uptown skyline is significantly more impressive than Nashville's downtown skyline, while Nashville has a much more prestigious collection of universities.

* Atlanta. On the surface, this seems insane as Atlanta is considerably more populous, vibrant, urban and cosmopolitan. But look closely and you will see some parallels. Both cities are state capitals, both are home to multiple quality universities (including vibrant HBCU districts) and both offer diverse economies. Both Atlanta and Nashville bulldozed countless beautiful historic buildings in the 1950s,  60s, and 70s. Also, the geography — lots of hills and trees — is extremely similar.

* Providence. No doubt, this is a major stretch. Providence teems with historic architecture, people density and lots of water. In contrast, Nashville offers multiple contemporary buildings and great name recognition. But when I visited the Rhode Island city, I noticed some similarities that some might not realize. Both Nashville and Providence are capital cities, both have high-profile private universities (Brown in Providence and Vanderbilt in Nashville) and both have burgeoning arts scenes. Both have metropolitan populations of about 1.65 million. Nashville is home to the nation's largest Kurdish population, while Providence has one of the country's largest Liberian populations. Both cities have major employers in the health care and higher education sectors.

Feel free to weigh in. I'm curious to get reader feedback.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Creating Places: A few thoughts

After having just returned from enjoying at Dan McGuinness the underrated Molly Ramone perform a solid version The Pogues' classic Irish sing-alone "Sally MacLennane," I ask the following:

* Is it necessary for AT&T to have with its soon-to-open building at 19th and West End avenues both a pole sign and signs affixed to the south and east walls? This is "signage overkill" at its most glaring.

* Did the fine folks at White Lodging ever stop to think that, before they had their Hyatt Place hotel designed for SoBro, a neutral stucco would look horrendous?

* Does the person who continues to tag the Demonbreun Viaduct and various buildings in The Gulch realize that committing a crime for which there is no monetary gain is the ultimate in idiocy? And if this social deviant is 18 or older (which, sadly, might very well be the case), his level of dumbassery is staggering.

* Do you cringe when you walk, bike or drive pass the Comfort Inn near the Music Row Roundabout — courtesy of the building's pathetic looking fiddles adoring the exterior walls?

* How many Nashvillians are extremely concerned about the possible loss of the Edwin Keeble-designed United Methodist Publishing House building located at the southwest corner of the Eight Avenue South and Demonbreun Street intersection in SoBro? Learn more here about the man who was arguably this city's greatest architect.

* Should I be uncomfortable admitting I'm enjoying the latest Black Sabbath album?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Creating Place: Printers Alley update

First, let me apologize for not promptly responding to some questions some of you had in a previous post. I appreciate your patience. Sometimes I am no more on tops of things with this blog site as I am attentive to my ever-expanding waistline. (Whiskey and Indian buffets can be rough on the gut.)

That said, yesterday I noticed some tasteful changes at Printers Alley.

First, somebody hit on genius, thinking to paint the trash receptacles in the alley with old-school country music artists' names as the theme. I saw Johnny Trash, Dolly Carton and Loretta Bin. You would think this might be hokey but the effect is strong. (See the photos below.) Also, the aging parking garage (see below) that fronts Third Avenue and backs up to Hotel Indigo is being given a nice facelift. In addition, the vertical black banner for the Brass Stables has finally been reaffixed to its surface and looks vastly better. Lastly, multi-colored balloons welcome visitors into the alley. The overall effect is quite nice.

There is something about quirky, gritty and/or smallish public spaces — and Printers Alley is a fine example — that I have always found fascinating. Another nice example is Ryman Alley that runs along the back side of some Lower Broadway establishments, including the stellar Robert's Western World.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Creating Places: Street banner observation

Only a few weeks after the Avenue of the Arts streetscape improvement project was concluded on the segment of Fifth Avenue North between Church and Union streets, one of the original seven light pole banners has been removed. And at least two others are frayed at their lower segments (see an example with the lower right corner of the banner pictured below). Why? Because apparently Metro simply doesn't get it. You cannot affix street light polls with banners using a cross bar on the top only and a loop on the bottom. If you do, when strong winds hit, the banners get ripped from the flimsy bottom attachment. I continue to be baffled that the city doesn't understand this. The approach is simple: If for whatever reason Metro chooses to not use street poles with two cross bars, then no banners should be included. Either attached the banners properly or don't attach them at all.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Creating Places: A few quick hits

It's late Thursday night and — for some odd reason — instead of listening to some soothing music to lull myself to sleep, I am sampling the latest Black Sabbath album, 13, courtesy of Spotify. Slightly invigorated by the plodding and sinister sound, I offer some tidbits:

* Last weekend, I checked the lobby of Elliston 23. Very tasteful. I do wish the Elliston face of the structure did not sport a garage entrance but, overall, that part of the building's exterior is quite attractive. The other three sides, clearly, are lacking. Elliston 23 strikes a commanding presence on the street for which it is named. A strong addition.

* Relatedly, fencing is up for  I & G Elliston's 2110 Elliston project located a few blocks west of Elliston 23.

* And on the fencing theme ... fencing has been installed at the site that will be home to the Metro Police Department Central Precinct project.  

* The more I view it, the more I like Demetria Kalodimos' The Filming Station building (located near the MCC Roundabout). Check some nice photos, courtesy of Bob Parks realtor Justin Holder, here.

* I've been told there is some interesting art work on what is the west side of the Church Street building last home to Performance Studios (across from the NES Building). I plan to soon check, get some photos and post for the readers (modest in numbers though they may be) of this blogsite.

* I've always been a fan of Stanford Place, the handsome condo building located at 4040 Woodlawn Drive and seen below in a photo courtesy of Google Streetview. I seem to recall the building was completed in the late 1990s, but I could easily be wrong. If anybody has details (particularly the architect), please share.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Creating Places: 12South rehab

The 12South building once to Harb's Oriental Rug Service is being given a very tasteful update. Unfortunately, the building's new-found attractiveness renders the adjacent structure (seen only partially on the right in this photo) even uglier than it originally had been (if that's possible). It is almost mind-boggling to think that folks in the 1960s and 1970s thought that buildings with with asphalt caps and multiple brick colors (I counted no fewer than five on the pathetic little structure) were actually attractive. But, in fairness, I thought I looked stylish, circa 1986, sporting pleated light-blue jeans, bulky all-white athletic shoes and a mullet. The lesson is simple: Buildings (and men) will always age well if given timeless exterior treatments.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Creating Places: Random tidbits

I offer a few quick hits after having just learned that the underrated Lane Motor Museum, located on Murfreesboro Road, has more Czech-made cars than any other facility located outside the former Czechoslovakia...

* Ray Hensler's tower is out of the ground and the flooring for level two is being created. Within the next three weeks, the building should be at least 30 feet tall and assuming some nice definition.

* Similarly, a segment of 1505 Demonbreun is out of the ground.

* Next door to 1505, the nondescript Comfort Inn is getting a major facelift. We can only hope that as part of the improvement, the tacky fiddles that pockmark some of the building's exterior will be removed.

* The Avenue of the Arts streetscape update is finished. I find the light poles to be of an attractive design and scale. Unfortunately, the poles don't include a lower cross arm to keep banners secured. As such, two (of the seven) banners were flapping wildly this past Saturday. When will Metro learn this makeshift approach to banner display simply does not work?

* A stat of note: There are approximately 12 buildings of 75 feet or taller currently under construction within no more than three miles of the heart of downtown.

* The Homewood Suites being built on the former FYE site has the potential to look much nicer than I had anticipated.

* The new Regions sign atop One Nashville Place looks very nice when lit at night. Not so much during the day.

* I'm not a fan of the two brick segments of the otherwise non-brick facade of Pine Street Flats in The Gulch.

* Full-scale work is now underway on the building that will be home to the future Metropolitan Bank Nashville headquarters. The former home to Bill Hudson & Associates is located on West End and across from the rising West End Summit. See photo below courtesy of Google Streetview.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Creating Places: USN's Hassenfeld Library

A quick post as I ponder who would be the the more noteworthy "unwitting hipster" were he, hypothetically, to wander into a random East Nashville bar: an elderly Mennonite gentleman or Fred Rogers, circa 1970.

The Hassenfeld Library on the University School of Nashville campus ranks among the best buildings constructed within the city since 2000. There are so many characteristics of the structure's exterior that I find appealing — include the brick color, the stone touches, the engraved "Hassenfeld Library" (seen in the lower photo along the roof line) and the 12-paned traditional windows.

But two elements stand out: 1. the building's contemporary segment (seen on the left half of Hassenfeld in the photo below) interacts effectively with the otherwise traditional design, thus allowing the admirer to realize that this is a "new building" that pays tribute to a timeless style. My only criticism is that the contemporary piece is a tad too large. 2. The building plays nicely off the other, and older, USN structures (they are not seen in the first photo). Given Hassenfeld, which opened in 2004, physically connects with its stately counterparts, a seamless symbiotic relationship is important.

If anybody knows the architect (I Google searched with no luck), please ID.

Grade: A-minus

Friday, May 24, 2013

Creating Places: West End Park addition

It's past midnight and slumber is not visiting me easily. As such, I thought I would make a quick post.

The building pictured below was recently completed in Historic West End Park. Fronting the T-intersection of Long Boulevard and Burns Avenue at an interesting angle, the three-story structure  (I don't know the name) is of a suitable height and width. I also like both the pronounced eaves (a commonly found feature on the buildings in this residential district) and the brick color.

Now for some design negatives:

* The windows on levels two and three look cheap, almost as if they were pasted on the exterior.

* The building's facade offers poor symmetry as the definition-lacking center (not very visible in this photo) looks awkward both by itself and in relation to the columns that frame it.

* On the proportionality theme, the balconies seem a bit small (perhaps I'm being somewhat picky).

*  The siding simply gives the exterior a bland (could be the ubiquitous neutral color) and generic feel, minimizing the otherwise nice effect of the brick. Though I acknowledge there would have been a cost consideration, the building would have looked much better clad fully in brick.

* The structure's sides, as is the case with so many residential buildings designed on a modest budget (which we can safely assume was the case here), are brutal.

During the past 10 years or so, West End Park has been the recipient of residential buildings representing a hodgepodge of styles. Some look quite nice, while others are painfully pedestrian. This building falls into the latter category.

I am curious to get others' thoughts on this design.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Creating Places: Fatherland Flats

A quick post as I tap the toes to Thin Lizzy's groovy live version of "Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed" ... 
Earlier today, I drove by Fatherland Flats, Chris McCarty's 48-unit apartment project taking shape in East Nashville. McCarty and his team, once finished, will have spent about $1 million on the multi-building effort (a photo of which is seen below). And though the rehab of what had been called 400 Fatherland (a painfully outdated utilitarian residential complex) will not render the exteriors notably attractive, the new-look FFlats structures should offer an acceptable presence as seen from the street. In addition, the interiors promise to be quite nice. 
No doubt, given the original design, McCarty would have needed to flatten the buildings and start afresh had he wanted to deliver an exceptionally handsome building(s). But the former Seattle resident prefers reusing buildings and I commend him for taking that approach in this case. 
The rehabbing will be concluded by the end of June with the development 75 percent leased (read more here).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Creating Places: Belmont Close

As I decompress from the excitement of the Memphis vs. Oklahoma City NBA playoff battle, I offer a quick look at Belmont Close.

During the early construction stage of the residential building, located on Wedgewood Avenue and catty-corner from the Belmont University campus, I was concerned that the finished product would offer a hideous street presence. And though the building does contain some flaws and is painfully basic, it is at least a tad more attractive than I expected. For example, the two brick colors interact nicely. The thick base (looks like it might be split-face concrete block, a cheap substitute for stone) and pitched roof deliver a decent bottom and top sandwich for the mid-section, which — in addition to the cleanly contrasting colors — shows solid window-to-facade proportionality. Typically, I don't care for tiny front entrances with steps, but these are acceptable. I don't like the shutters, as they suggest (if you view them at close range) the type shutters found on rural homes.

In short, Belmont Close is very vanilla, with nothing distinctive about its form. But for this type design, I have seen far worse. Given that reality, any building that graded better than an F is a modest success.

Grade: C-minus

(Note: Thanks to local manmade environment enthusiast Ron Brewer for this photo.)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Creating Places: Saving Ben West

Christine Kreyling, inarguably the most skilled and experienced journalist covering this city's manmade environment, has penned a strong Nashville Scene piece regarding downtown's Ben West Building. Read here.

The following two-sentence flourish from Kreyling is a particular highlight:

"City officials should have learned by now that surface parking is toxic to downtowns. The lots erode the street wall and the pedestrian experience, bring walkers into conflict with cars accessing the lots, [and] contribute nothing but ugliness to the streetscape and little to the tax base, even if privately owned."

Perfectly put, Ms. Kreyling.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Creating Places: Congrats, ESa

The Spring 2013 edition of Learning By Design reports that Nashville-based Earl Swensson Associates, Inc., has received a Citation of Excellence Award for outstanding educational facility design for the renovation and adaptive reuse of Belmont University ’s McAfee Concert Hall,. 

ESa is one of only seven firms in the country to receive the award.

ESa repurposed an aging church sanctuary on the Belmont University campus into a contemporary music hall that serves both the campus and the surrounding community. Distinctive details were preserved, while ESa designed the facility to nearly double its volume by utilizing previously unused attic and floor space. (I've been inside and it's quite nice.)

In addition, Belmont's ESa-designed Randall and Sadie Baskin Center, College of Law, received an Honorable Mention Award. ESa is one of only three firms in the country to receive the honor. The center is one of the best examples of post-2010 traditional architecture in Nashville.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Creating Places: More tidbits

A few observations as the night concludes and I ponder whether I would be tempted to say, were I to meet him, Jonathan Goldsmith — the actor who plays The Most Interesting Man in the World in the TV commercials — the following: "I often drink beer and when I do, I prefer craft beer instead of mass-produced stuff like Dos Equis."

* The newly painted grain silo at Yazoo looks very cool. Take a look.


* Relatedly, and only a few yards from the Yazoo building, the Gulch structure home to Colts Chocolates is getting a mural. Reminds me — at least so far — of the tasteful mural on the side of the 12South building home to The Filling Station. I'm optimistic this will be a fine addition to Overton Street.

Here is a look at the proposed addition to the Centennial Sportsplex. I believe it will be oriented in such a way as to not — like the other buildings within the complex — address a public street. That's disappointing but not necessarily surprising given various factors, including the limited amount of space along 25th and on which any new building could front. Of note, this building looks vastly better than the existing structures on the site. But, so would about 99 percent of the buildings ever constructed in Nashville.

* The parking garage at the 23Hundred at Berry Hill site is quite tall. The developer told me during a recent phone chat that the apartment building could stand 60 feet at its tallest point.

* I've learned from a trusted source that more smallish residential infill is planned for Germantown and Salemtown.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Creating Places: Tidbits

As the night concludes and I ponder which rock band with the word "black" in its name — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Black Sabbath, The Black Angels,  or The Black Keys — I most prefer, I offer some quick hits:

* The first tower crane is being assembled for Ray Hensler's luxury apartment tower in the Gulch.

* And speaking of whom, I saw Ray in the Gulch recently and asked him the chances of his tower converting to condos before it opened. He smiled and noted he is asked that question frequently. Then he smiled again and we exchanged good-byes.

* And speaking of that, my gut feeling is Hensler will open his tower as originally planned, that is, as Nashville's first 20-plus-story luxury apartment building. There will be no competition and, as such, the units should rent quickly — despite the reservations of a handful of naysayers. The fact that the building should be of top quality and has an absolutely prime location (in the Gulch, convenient to the inner-interstate loop and within walking distance of Midtown and the central business district) will help the marketing process all the more.

* I noticed Monday that the Yazoo Brewing Co. grain storage silo (which had been a shiny white as seen in the image below) on the Division Street face of the building has been painted and looks fantastic. I'll take a photo and post soon. On this theme, and because both the silo and the building's retro logo offer a stellar appearance, I hope Yazoo mastermind Linus Hall will consider an exterior color scheme change for his building. The industrial warehouse currently sports an underwhelming combination of light-yellowish cream and maroon (the latter color is not seen in the image below). If you're reading, Linus, please don't take this harshly. You know I am a major fan of all your beers and what you have done for this city.

*  Hill Realty is demolishing its Hillsboro Village buildings to make room for the long-awaited MZA-designed replacement. I will miss the vintage structures, with my best memory involving them being the time my little brother and I visited Mill's Bookstore in (I seem to recall) 1980 to meet the late author Alex Haley. As a gangly and acne-suffering 17-year-old, I had the audacity to tell the legend I appreciated what he did with Roots — even though I never read the book.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Creating Places: Walking Demonbreun

As I listen to some instrumental music and enjoy a cup of chocolate soy milk, I ponder Demonbreun Street, circa 2016. Join me as we take a mental (and hypothetical) 1.5-mile stroll on a wonderful spring day.

Starting at the Music Row Roundabout and with the handsome Roundabout Plaza casting a shadow on the dancing nudes of Musica, we move east on the north side of the road and are immediately greeted on the right by Faison's 1515 Demonbreun and on the left by the hustle and bustle of the various shops and bars that highlight the block. We pass Tamarind, the stellar Indian eatery, and pause to remember Mo, the affable manager who has long since moved on. A few steps forward and on the left, Rhythm towers above us. We take a look across the street at  the updated (though still generic) Comfort Inn, which has seen its cartoonish facade fiddles long since removed.

Crossing the interstate is unpleasant but not as much so as is currently the case as some pedestrian improvements have been made since 2013. Once we get to the other side, we cross Demonbreun and admire both the Eakin and Hensler towers. Past the underrated Braid Electric Building we then traverse the Demonbreun Viaduct and are greeted by MarketStreet's Gulch Crossing building and, shortly thereafter, a semi-icon: Cummins Station.

At Eighth and Demonbreun, we note the classy modernist United Methodist Publishing House building. After pausing, we gaze skyward at Tony Giarratana's Marriott on the left while the massive Music City Center roller-coasters its way east to the right. At Sixth, we spot the shops on the back side of the Bridgestone Arena then, at Fifth, thrill to the one-two-three punch of the northeast corner of the MCC, the quirky Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the modernist Omni. Hall of Fame Park offers some soothing greenery on the left.

We reach Fourth and are greeted by the Schermerhorn on the left and both Encore and Hyatt Place on the right. One block later loom both Pinnacle on the left and Tony Giarratana's SoBro on the right. At this point, we have walked past 18 buildings of major note, with the final two blocks of our stroll offering a nice finish with the tasteful Market Street Apartments and Liggett Building serving as an entrance to the Ingram Amphitheater.

That was a nice "walk" and my faux milk is consumed. Good night.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Creating Places: Musings on Nashville modernism

With demolition looming for the Hull, Ben West and the former Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works buildings — and with talks circulating of eventually razing the Imperial House Apartments building and the four-building Carmichael Towers on the Vanderbilt campus — I chose three other Nashville modernist structures that, hypothetically, might be lost during the next 10 years or so. So that's eight buildings constructed during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s and that are typically underutilized and/or outdated — though not necessarily in need of a razing. What follows is a simple exercise in which I give two and then name my preference as to which should be saved.

Hull or Ben West? Save: Hull

Hull or Carmichael Towers? Save: Hull

Ben West or Carmichael Towers? Save: Carmichael Towers

Ben West or Imperial House? Save: Ben West

Imperial House or Carmichael Towers: Save: Carmichael Towers

Imperial House or Municipal Auditorium? Save: Municipal Auditorium

Municipal Auditorium or 401 Union (see here)? Save: Municipal Auditorium

401 Union or Ben West? Save: 401 Union

401 Union or Imperial House? Save: 401 Union

The former Tennessee Department of Highways building (see here) or Ben West? Save: Ben West

The former Tennessee Department of Highways building or Municipal Auditorium? Save: Municipal Auditorium

Vanderbilt University's Oxford House (see below) or Carmichael Towers? Save: Carmichael Towers

Oxford House or 401 Union? Save: 401 Union

Oxford House or Imperial House? Save: Oxford House

Oxford House or the former Tennessee Department of Highways building? Save: Oxford House

So based on my very simplistic approach, here is how I would rank the buildings based on their worthiness of being saved:

1. Hull
2. Municipal Auditorium
3. Carmichael Towers
4. 401 Union
5. Ben West
6. Oxford House
7. Tennessee Department of Highways building
8. Imperial House

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Creating Posts: Tidbit time

Though the weekend was highlighted by a stellar live performance by Richard Thompson at 3rd & Lindsley and, as such, my focus on Nashville's manmade fabric was not as strong as it might have been otherwise, I saw a number of things that caught my attention the past two days.

A few of note:

1. The one-story AT&T building under construction at the northeast corner of the West End and 19th avenues intersection in Midtown now sports garish orange awnings and a free-standing pole sign, the shape of which suggests a large popsicle. I will be emailing the architect Monday to try to determine what is up with these design elements.

2. I like the brick color and arrangements for West End Village in West End Park. However — and I've noted this before — this project shows poor proportionality, as it is vastly more horizontal than it is vertical.

3. It seems the Homewood Suites under construction at the former Tower Record site will have a secondary entrance on Elliston Place. If so, that will be a major positive. Buildings that line two major streets, typically and ideally, should address both those streets.

4. A recent article in the Ledger reveals Vanderbilt might consider demolishing the four-building Carmichael Towers complex. Such a move would dramatically damage the West End Corridor skyline. Let's hope the buildings can be rehabbed.

5. It seems the start of Buckingham Cos.'s project proposed for the former Mario's site at 21st, Broadway and Division has been delayed. Originally, I was under the impression, major on-site work would start this summer. Now it looks like that start could be pushed back to the end of this calendar year. I'm working on getting the specifics.

6. I find the color scheme of the soon-to-be-finished Pine Street Flats to be attractive. The building even suggests a slight industrial vibe.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Creating Places: Ben West Library building

Here we go again. Another downtown building is slated to be felled to make ways for cars.

In this case, the Ben West Library building will likely be razed and replaced with a surface parking lot following a land swap between the state and Metro. (Read more here.) True, the structure is no masterpiece. But it is a solid example of mid-century modernist design. And even if it were an ugly building, it would look better on the site than what may as well be a used car lot.

When do we say "Stop the madness"? Salt Lake City has already done so (read here). And Minneapolis is getting serious about surface lots in its downtown (read here).

Is there not an adaptive reuse for the building? The Tennessee State Museum is looking for a home, and the former library building might just work. Or even better: What about moving the Nashville School for the Arts from the Foster Avenue state-owned building from which it operates (and that would be swapped for Metro's Ben West structure) to the ex-library space? The School for the Arts is a magnet school that needs a central location, and having the school operate within the confines of what had been a library would continue the educational theme of the downtown building.

Maybe such ideas have been pondered but are not feasible. But I doubt it. And that's sad. But here is what is really pathetic. I seriously doubt many of the state and Metro officials involved in this issue care whether the building is demolished to accommodate parking.

The western segment of Nashville's central business district is already decaying. The loss of the Ben West Library building will simply add to the morbidity.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Creating Places: Salemtown contemporary residence

The fast-changing North Nashville neighborhood of Salemtown features what must rank as one of the 50 most distinctive residences in Nashville.

Located near the northeast corner of the Seventh Avenue North and Hume Street intersection, the slender and slanted-roof house continues to elicit strong opinions — most of them negative from what little I've heard.

To be frank, I'm not a fan. Having said that, the home does offer some elements I find acceptable — and even interesting. For example, I like that the structure is more vertical than horizontal (though excessively so when seen from the perspective below). As many of you know, I prefer the so-called "cool colors" (cobalt blue, charcoal, black, silver, etc.), so the two-toned gray palette is fine. Relatedly, I like the way the darker gray gives the house a well-defined base.

As to the structure's exterior shortcomings, there are various examples, with the horizontal windows (such window orientation rarely works) being the most glaring. But beyond the specific design details of the home itself, the main problem is that the house is out of context given its surroundings feature mainly traditional homes. I suppose the developer might contend the architect took cues from the industrial-themed former Werthan Packaging facility located mere feet from the house. Fair enough.

Still, the house just seems out of place. Though it could shine if built in, say, the Gulch or SoBro, in the confines of historic North Nashville it fails to achieve full luster.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Creating Places: Hayes Street structure of note

Does anybody know the history of this Midtown building? Located in the 1700 block of Hayes Street, the structure (see below courtesy of Google Maps) sits catty-corner from the West End Summit site. There are multiple features I find attractive, with perhaps the main one being the pronounced eaves. I also like the light gray brick. I assume this was once a residential building. Now it accommodates offices. Any info is appreciated.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Creating Places: The Sheds on Charlotte

Last week's announcement regarding the planned The Sheds on Charlotte gave reason to be pleased. The deteriorating warehouses, located within the 2200 block of Charlotte Avenue, need new life, and this project (read more here) will provide just that.

On a sobering note, the street will lose the quirky and gritty modernist structure (see below in the right half of the photo courtesy of Google Maps) once home to the former Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works (now TDOT), which the developer and its engineers contend is structurally unsound.

The reality today is that we may have to accept the fact that adaptive reuse of some buildings will involve their partial demolition (or, in this case, the razing of an adjacent structure). On this theme, I was hoping Alex S. Palmer & Co. could have saved the now-gone handsome masonic lodge and incorporated it within the West End Summit project.

In contrast, Ed Fulcher and his development team are fusing the former Melrose Theater strip center with new residential construction, thus showing such adaptive reuse can be done with certain projects.

Another example of sparing at least a segment of a historic building while adding new construction can be found in Midtown Memphis on Union Avenue. Specifically, a portion of the exterior of a vintage church building (in bottom photo courtesy of Google Maps) was kept, nicely concealing some surface parking that accommodates the fast food eatery. (I'll refrain from taking pen to paper and slamming a society that allows for a grand church building to be razed so that an environmentally unfriendly asphalt surface parking lot can be paved for motorists lustily desirous of feasting on fat-laden junk.)

Much like with the Memphis project, it would have been cool if Sheds on Charlotte developer Holladay Properties could have at least saved the facade of the TDOT building. Still, the developer is to be commended for its fascinating reuse of the warehouses. With a loss comes a victory.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Creating Places: More tidbits

A few random musings as the music of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fills my tiny living quarters ...

*  I'm not sure what to think about the exterior of the radically reinvented building located on the southeast corner of Eighth Avenue South and Division Street and home to Pour House. (Check some photos here.) On the one hand, there is an industrial hint that I find appealing. In contrast, I detect a "children's treehouse meets giant Lincoln Logs creation" vibe that is jarring. That said, I hear the interior vibe — and beer selection — is stellar. In fact, I see Pour House has Schlafly kolsch on tap. So I need to make my first visit soon.

* The "cap" for the Music City Center convention facility is now being lit at night. Very tasteful.

* One of the most eye-catching building exteriors of recent addition is that of The Filling Station in 12South. Check this mural (taken from The Filling Station Facebook page) on the structure's west wall:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Creating Places: Tidbit time

Random thoughts as the soft strains of Bohren & Der Club of Gore elicit drowsiness...

* Look for Vanderbilt's College Halls at Kissam — currently under construction at West End and 21st avenues — to be one of Nashville's five most impressive architectural additions to be completed in 2013. Check here for time lapse peg's. And the other four... Perhaps this quartet, ranked in alphabetical order: Elliston 23, Fifth & Garfield, Hillsboro Row and the Music City Center.

* Work is progressing rapidly on the retrofit of Hill Realty's building formerly home to The Great Escape and located at the Broadway and Division split. I have high hopes for this project.

* Note 16 is open and the commons areas are quite nice (I've yet to see an actual unit). As to the exterior design, the soaring steps straddling the building's center facade are excessively out of scale. I'll take a photo soon.

* I'm not a fan of the new-look exterior of the Belmont Boulevard building home to PM.

* An example of buildings with exteriors that were basically outdated almost immediately after their completion: those home to the Nashville Farmers Market.

* Michael Roos' hyper-contemporary The Square at Fourth and Madison is looking stellar.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Creating Places: Midtown's future

My recent City Paper piece on Midtown has spurred some folks to solicit my opinions of the area's future prospects. 

Here are some thoughts. (And check the stellar photo, seen below — click for enlarged view — courtesy of Nashville-based Aerial Innovations.)

I have a personal interest in Midtown in that 1. My father once worked in the building home to the Hutton Hotel; 2. I once worked in a building on 17th; and 3. I once lived on Louise (off Elliston Place and on the fringe of Midtown — though some would say in the heart of Midtown).

The article posited the hypothetical situation of some property owners having unrealistic views of their properties' worth and, as such, not being willing to sell. Yes, this could be a problem But I don't foresee property owners collectively thwarting Midtown's progress in that many will be offered very nice prices to sell their parcels and they won't be able to say "no." On this theme, XMi Commercial — as the article noted — is involved  in some manner with multiple Midtown parcels and the XMi team "gets it." That company will help lead the redevelopment effort. Overall, Midtown simply has too much potential to not grow rapidly — even if a few unrealistic, unmotivated or greedy landowners don't want to sell and/or develop their own sites. No doubt, WES will spur growth, as will the BRT line (if that materializes). 

I frequently drive (and sometimes walk) the Midtown streets to get a feel for how this reinvention could all unfold, and I have concluded the potential is very strong. The district has a gridded street pattern, more than enough quality retail shops, restaurants, white-collar operations, health care entities, etc., to give developers incentive to add to the mix. It also offers the type large tracts of land that are either empty or that can be assembled and that lend themselves to new development (e.g., WES and the Buckingham Cos. project) with on-site structured parking (critical to the district's long-term health).

I've spent a decent amount of time in Atlanta's Midtown, and there are some similarities in terms of function (not form, obviously, as Midtown Atlanta might as well be Manhattan compared to Midtown Nashville). Midtown Atlanta transformed from about 1980 to 2000. 

In 15 to 20 years, I believe Midtown Nashville will do likewise.