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, 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.


  1. Looks like a buy 5 get the 6th casement window free sale.

  2. It looks like it was done on the cheap!

  3. What is it like to be in the interior spaces with high up horizontal windows? We went away from that motif in homebuilding the 70's for a reason.

    This abomination is why modern architecture gets a bad name.

    1. AMous,

      Good point about the horizontal windows.


  4. I am hopeful that the SNNA can assemble those of us helping to reshape the Salemtown neighborhood to encourage a more sensitive approach to style and scale. It CAN be accomplished with a little effort and cooperation from developers. Salemtown deserves and can accept better quality development than what has historically been done in the neighborhood.