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, February 17, 2013

Creating Places: Projects of distinction

With the scrapping of The Streets of Brentwood, announced last week, I decided to craft a list of "distinctive projects" that Nashville both has seen materialized and scrapped since 2000. 

Of note, I did not include public/government projects, instead limiting the list to private development. As such, I did not include, for example, the Music City Center, the Music City Central and Cumberland Park (each, admittedly, noteworthy) or the Federal Courthouse. 

In addition, I did not include individual skyscrapers (such as The Pinnacle at Symphony Place and Icon in the Gulch), as those type buildings have been constructed in multiple cities and, as such, are not distinctive in a strict sense. The one exception, obviously, is Signature Tower, as very few cities our size will ever get such a building. Signature would have been highly distinctive and its failure to rise still pains me to this day. The building would have been an icon.

Also note the list includes nothing on any university campus — despite some impressive additions either finished or underway at Belmont, Lipscomb, Meharry and Vanderbilt.

Basically, I limited the list to either fairly or very unusual projects — often multi-building in nature.

Here we go.

Failed to Happen  (9)

Cumberland Yacht Harbor

Signature Tower 

Nashville Sounds/Struever Bros. project at Thermal site

H20 Urban Waterfront District 

Neuhoff site 

Pantheon Park

May Town Center

Nashville Medical Trade Center

The Streets of Brentwood (Note: Though it would have been located in a suburban area, TSofB would have been extremely urban in its design and function and, as such, could have sent an important message to the general region. So I included).

Yet to Happen and with, Seemingly, a Minimal Chance of Materializing (3)

The Project Nashville Skyline entertainment complex, to be anchored by an IMAX Theater at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds

Strings (Travis Kelty's proposed guitar-shaped office tower)

The Museum of African American Music

Yet to Happen but with a Strong Chance of Materializing (3)

Northwestern Mutual Real Estate Service North Gulch site

One City

West End Summit (I include given this will be a highly unusual three-tower project)

Yet to Happen and Remaining a Question (3)

Bus Rapid Transit line connecting the city's east and west sides

Nashville Sounds stadium

Thermal site amphitheater

Materialized (2)

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Hill Center Green Hills 

Materialized but Questionable  as to Whether Meeting the Criteria of this List (3)

Omni/Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame expansion (This one was worth considering for inclusion in the "Materialized" category given it involves a speciality museum. However, the hotel is not a "distinctive" project in the strict sense and the bulk of the museum already existed. So I did not include)

Belle Meade Town Center (with Harris Teeter, the Marquee and Belle Meade Court)

Hill Center Belle Meade (anchored by Publix)


  1. Interesting, but dont really understand your logic for what to include and what not to include.

    Pinnacle at Symphony Place, Omni Hotel, SunTrust building, Terrazzo, and Adelicia should all definitely be on the list.

  2. AMous,

    I did a poor job of explaining. Adelicia, for example, is a great building. But it's not unusual in that Nashville (and many other cities) are getting similar buildings. Of course, other cities are getting Hill Center-type developments so maybe my list is useless. But it was a fun exercise.


  3. So the Museum of African American Music has been scrapped also? From my understanding funding is still needed. While I understand that these are tough economic times, this beautiful facility should've been built years ago.

    1. AMous,

      I didn't write it have been scrapped, as the team behind the project is still trying. I simply noted it has failed to happen, and likely permanently. But I have moved to a different category. I hope it materializes. Would be very cool.


  4. William -- Could you please update us on what you know about two things: (1) What's the status of the public sculpture art piece planned for the new roundabout at KVB and 8th Ave, next to Music City Center? Has this been announced or previewed? Also, when will KVB be formally opened in that area to link 8th Ave.? (2) What's the plan for painting the somewhat faded "Ghost Ballet" art piece on the riverfront? Thanks for info.

    1. AMous,

      The Metro Arts Commission has its finalists for what should be a massive public art piece. . The winner should be announced very soon but I can't seem to find a story as to when.

      KVB should be opened in early April.

      Ghost Ballet will be repainted fire engine red.


  5. Mr. Williams - While I realize that I am more than biased, I would hope that you might have considered including W.O Smith Music School. The building is certainly unlike any other in our city and even more so for the clientele that it serves.

    I think that it should also be noted that, with few exceptions, projects you named and some of those unnamed, have not been adaptive reuse projects. If only we could get out city, state, (Cordell Hull building) and developers to see the benefits of this great practice.


    W.O. Smith Music School