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, July 14, 2013

Creating Places: Major design firms impact city

(Note: I wrote this for Nashville Post but thought some readers might not see. So, I'm posting here.)

Last week's announcement that Giarratana Nashville LLC intends to use global architecture firm Gensler to design a proposed tower to house a Marriott hotel was newsworthy (read here) in that the city likely has never seen a more high-profile design company undertake work here.
To date, the most high-profile architecture companies to do work in Nashville (based on various sources) likely have been HOK Sport Venue Event (which designed the Bridgestone Arena and LP Field and is now called Populous and, at the time, part of heavy-hitter HOK Group), Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (Fifth Third Center) and Skidmore Owings & Merrill (Snodgrass Tower). Some would contend SO&M remains more "big time" than Gensler (based on various criteria, including venerability).
Gensler (read more here) has about 3,500 employees working in 43 offices internationally and has designed some of the world’s most high-profile buildings, including the World Trade Center in Saudi Arabia and the Government Communications Headquarters in the United Kingdom. In 2012, the San Francisco-based company generated the most revenue of any architecture firm based in the United States, according to Architectural Record. ArchDaily ranks Gensler the world's No. 2 design firm based on number of employees (read here).
Interestingly, Giarratana Nashville is working with Loewenberg Architects for the proposed SoBro, a 33-story tower the local company hopes to co-develop with Chicago-based Magellan Development Group LLC (read more here). Also, Giarratana hopes to use Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill for its planned 505 CST. Both can be found on lists for the nation's Top 200 design firms.
Relatedly, Thompson, Ventulett, Stainbeck and Associates (Music City Center) and KA Architects (Icon in The Gulch) are highly respected and found on various rankings lists.
The bottom line: These are the exciting times for Nashville related to high-profile national architectural firms both doing and hoping to do work here. 

10 comments:

  1. Maybe it's time for Alex Palmer to get a major high profile firm to design the West End Summit.

    That project seems to be stalled yet again, with no work on the site and no renderings for the hotel tower.

    At this point, it seems there is little chance they will be able to meet the Spring 2015 opening date.

    Palmer has signed lease agreements from HCA for the two towers, but work hasn't started. Pretty soon, we will have a Lake Palmer again.

    What's going on?

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    1. Good points about the West End Summit. I drive by there every day and have seen nothing happening.

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    2. There has been a delay, no doubt. I've heard various reasons for the delay and do not know with certainty. I will say WES architect Duda/Paine Architects is very respected.

      WW

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    3. It does seem strange for Palmer to have signed leases from a blue chip, high profile tenant like HCA, approved incentives from Metro, and yet they are still working on due diligence for financing.

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    4. AMous,

      And that's why I'm not so sure a due diligence in securing financing is the reason for the delay.

      WW

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  2. "yet they are still working on due diligence for financing."
    Probably trying to find a way to blackmail more welfare checks from the taxpayers.

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  3. Gensler designed the Chuy's on Broadway which I consider one of the premier downtown designs by the "most high-profile architectural companies".

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    1. AMous,

      I can't determine if Gensler designed that Midtown monstrosity. But even if so ... so what? The Chuy's team goes to the architect and says "Give us tacky."

      Similarly, Manuel Zeitlin Architects here in town does great work. But the building they designed for AT&T at 19th and West End is bland because that's what AT&T wants.

      I just don't understand your point.

      WW

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  4. West End Summit has been delayed again to get more bids to start foundation work. The two entities bidding on the work merged, so Palmer went to a third entity.

    In any case after 13 years Palmer still cannot get it up...WES I mean.

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    1. AMous,

      Interesting news if accurate info.

      WW

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