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.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Creating Places: Ben West Library building
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.