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
* 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
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:
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Sunday, August 25, 2013
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
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
Monday, July 29, 2013
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.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
* 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
Sunday, July 7, 2013
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
* 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
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
Thursday, June 13, 2013
* 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
Monday, June 3, 2013
* 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
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.
Friday, May 24, 2013
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
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
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.
(Note: Thanks to local manmade environment enthusiast Ron Brewer for this photo.)
Thursday, May 9, 2013
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
Monday, April 29, 2013
* 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
* 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
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
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:
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
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
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
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
Sunday, March 24, 2013
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
* 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
* 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
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.