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, 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.


  1. I agree that the towers on West End are iconic, but I've always thought they were ugly. And I can say, having lived in them for 4 semesters, that they are worthy of destruction. Don't you think some buildings that are equal in stature would be acceptable?

    1. Gilmeras,

      Yes, there could be worthy replacements for the towers.


  2. On #2: Since the entire immediate neighborhood is 'horizontal' except the nearby office towers and a few condos, I don't see a problem at all with WEV. The proportions are entirely appropriate for what's already surrounding the project, which are single family homes and low-slung apartment buildings.

    4. The Carmichael Towers completely ignore West End Avenue. And, they are ugly/outdated. I don't see any difference between replacing these towers much in the way Kissam dorms are being replaced. They damage the West End corridor already, by not contributing to the street or public realm. Tear 'em down!

    1. AMous,

      I must disagree with you on No. 2. Most of the construction in WEPark since 2000 show much better proportionality. True, the multi-unit residential buildings constructed during this time are not tall, but their height and width show much better symmetry than does WEV.

      As to No. 4, I do agree with you that the towers ignore the street, and that is a negative. If their replacements are as nice as The College Halls at Kissam, I would be very pleased. But I will miss the height of the four current towers if they are razed.


  3. William,
    Unless branding has changed, the hotel at 2400 West End Avenue (Tower Records site) will be a Homewood Suites. Regarding the new hotel's addressing of Elliston Place, here is info from the planning commission's consideration of the building's plan.

    Building Elevations Building elevations submitted with the application provide information on the character and
    materiality of exterior building facades. Ground floor walls will use a stone veneer. Upper floors will have a
    combination of EIFS and brick veneer.

    Sidewalk entrances are shown on the building elevations. Several entrances are provided along the Elliston Place
    street frontage, which would provide access to first floor hotel functions or retail. The proposed wine bar facing West
    End Avenue would provide the only building entrance along the West End sidewalk. A second entrance on the south
    side of the building is shown adjacent to the circular drive adjacent to the hotel lobby on the interior of the site. As
    proposed, the hotel would not provide building entrances along 24th Avenue or at the hotel lobby at the corner of 24th
    Avenue and Elliston Place.

    The Elliston Place Detailed Neigborhood Design Plan (DNDP) promotes mixed use development along Elliston Place,
    including ground floor commercial/retail land uses. Although ground floor commercial/retail land uses are not
    proposed within this SP along Elliston Place, the building elevations illustrate the intent to provide the semblance of
    storefront street frontage along Elliston Place. The first floor height along Elliston Place is taller than upper floors to
    resemble retail floor heights. Additionally, the amount of glazing along the Elliston Place frontage should be increased
    to reflect retail frontage.

  4. Amous,

    You are correct. I just changed. Good catch. And thanks for this info.