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Hamlet (4/14)



  1. We may or may not have the opportunity to meet with the selected design firms. It would certainly be an honor to do so. Thank you very much for the kind words on our efforts!
  2. Many have argued that the submerged hall (and by submerged, I really mean "tucked," as the slope of the site means that our underground hall would have street-level frontage on 5th Avenue) would be best capped by bridge-like structural systems. This includes not only 6th and 7th Avenues, as you have very insightfully pointed out, but also the main plaza itself and all other "rooftop" (and street-level!) public spaces could be supported by steel truss systems. In effect, the entire Main Plaza above the Great Hall would be a modest bridge. It could be done, and in my opinion, it should be done. The slope of the site is just too perfectly accommodating. The Music City Center grassroots conceptual urban design study website, www.MCCproject.com, has been updated. It features a few new and updated renderings of the 3D design study model as well as a new section dedicated to architectural design precedents from around the world. Check it out!
  3. Thank you very much! We are all proud citizens of a wonderful town with a great future. Encouragement like yours keeps us going!
  4. There are plenty of good reasons to do exactly what you have said. While I think Nashville would be pleasantly surprised by the grandeur and liveliness of a solid pedestrian street or two, keeping the grid completely intact has the undeniable benefits of efficiency, functionality, and ease of navigation. The biggest hurdle one must leap over to accomplish such a thing is structural. It would be very difficult to make those streets support vehicular traffic without absolutely stuffing the Great Hall beneath them with columns. But, like I said--your criticism is totally valid.
  5. Hello, everyone! Big thanks to all the kind words and encouragement that has been poured out for this little conceptual design project. It makes the sweat and tears all worthwhile, regardless of what ultimately happens with this consensus-building exercise! Cliff and Smeagolsfree are right about the hotel. It will probably be across 5th behind the Country Music Hall of Fame...a different site altogether. The Main Hall alone is 380,000 SF. There is also loads and loads of additional square footage, in the above-ground MCC building along 5th, all dialed-in to the specific needs articulated by the Music City Center Coalition. This includes allowances for meeting rooms, ballrooms, a theater, circulation systems, etc. In short, we have included all the necessary floor space for this facility--and just in case we need more, we also built some contingency space into the scheme. For example, the mixed-use buildings between pedestrian 6th and 7th could have their upper floors given over to the MCC, and they could be connected to the main MCC building via well-designed bridges over 6th Avenue. Those bridges could be great if they are sufficiently lovely, as they could create little Gateways for pedestrians beneath, heightening the sense of "compression" as they enter the site, only to have the Main Plaza "explode" more forcefully as a grand, well-defined open space. Somebody here mentioned that the public may balk at the idea of Metro Government developing mixed-use residential/office/retail buildings. I could not agree more. Those buildings should be sold to private developers to help offset the cost of building the Convention Center. The master plan and architectural guidelines would keep everything cohesive, but diversified ownership will help this project negotiate the fraught waters of public land development and public/private partnership. It must be a fair and democratic project, or it won't be worthy of the name Music City Center.
  6. You have a legitimate point, and no one should poo-poo it. High-rise buildings make mockeries out of fire safety codes, and every fireman knows it. How it is that we can require standard emergency exit signs and multiple exits in every public building, but yet permit people to be marooned 600 feet in the air where no ladder could ever reach them, is a testiment to the public's inability to apply critical thought to their surroundings. Very few people would be willing to work 600 feet undergorund, beneath tons and tons of rock and soil--yet this would actually be considerably safer.
  7. Actually, the main administrator over at the Nashville Charrette has taken great pains to point out some nice things about the so-called Vancouver Model, which is a disciplined approach to urban design that holds the humane and intelligent deployment of skyscrapers as its defining feature. Also, I don't know a single person with a Theory degree from Harvard. Most of the people I know with theory degrees pulled them out of Berkley or Princeton. None of them post on the Nashville Charrette. What-evuh!
  8. The new dependency sucks.
  9. I called it first! I get the cookie! Only, my post mysteriously disappeared!
  10. Does anyone have a picture of the Washington Building on Capitol Square? I have just read about it, and am dying to see a photograph...I would give a special wish and a super nice thought to anyone who could take and post a really good photograph of this awesome building.
  11. This isn't the choice. Consider Tuscany.
  12. You misread my statement. I have no problem with achievement, and certainly no problem with great achievement--where we actually disagree is whether technological exhibitionism for its own sake can count as achievement. I would not harken the building of a giant skyscraper with going to the Moon, because architecture is art and space exploration is not...the fact that you compared them suggests to me that when you see a skyscraper, you do not see art--you see a technological feat...like going to the Moon. Architecture which is nothing more than techno-showmanship is failed architecture, because artform has a different calling than a Junior Scientist Chemistry Set. Buildings have to be Strong, Useful, and Beautiful...technology is or should be a tool that assists us in our great struggle to achieve these high objectives, not a stand-in for them, not an end in itself.
  13. Wow! So much juicy action goes down in the Signature Tower thread, it is hard to stay relevant and engaged. The subjects change almost as quickly as the gauntlets get thrown down! Please indulge me a wee mite as I try to scoop up and present a few scattered and fading thoughts... I posted a li'l thing a few days ago in which I announced my opinion that skyscrapers were cheezy, and in fact, "butt-redneck." Barakat responds: I definitely think that skyscrapers are ostentatious...but this does not preclude their being cheezy. Goodness Knows that there is a lot of cheezy and ostentatious butt-redneck business in this world of ours. I will try to clarify and justify my opinion below: It seems to me that the erection and celebration of really tall buildings, particularly when done simply for the sake of tallness, is nothing more than an episode of technological exhibitionism of the sort commonly performed by intellectual adolescents (i.e., rednecks) who feel they must prove their cultural relevance to a supposedly interested and arguably superior world. You know how ten-year-olds scream for their mother's attention just before performing a sassy stunt on the diving board, or a broomstick pole-vault in the backyard? Just like the Civilized World--a world that is forced by popular media to observe a second-rate culture erect giant toys--Mother isn't all that impressed, and is, in fact, somewhat amused. Unlike the civilized world, Mother has a natural affection for her children that will survive the tedium of doofus mania for all things loud and big and totally obnoxious. Nashville's international reputation will not, as is commonly asserted on this board, get an action-packed shot in the arm by the Signature Tower. If anyone cares at all, and most people won't, their brief curiosity (which will not be directed as to "what," by the way, as much as to "why") will be satisfied by the rabidly tired and predictable gibberish we spill out about being a "progressive city" that "builds for the future" and "reaches for the sky," etc. Anyone who imagines that a kid in Rome or a resident of Stockholm would be impressed by a really tall skyscraper in a city which is otherwise sprawled out and boring--let alone trade their gorgeous squares and intimate boulevards for a giant building they can't even properly see from the sidewalk--is misinformed in general. For you see, Mother is not impressed by Ninja kicks or awesome high scores on the latest Grand Theft Auto regurgitation. No, she is impressed by virtuous behaviour, by a love of learning, by scholastic and artistic accomplishment of real merit, by kindness and honesty and a love of Beauty. Architecture can be big, and it can be great, and it can be both--but one is not the other. We kid ourselves, my friends. The construction of cheezy, ostentatious skyscrapers also strikes me as butt-redneck because it reveals an assumption that has been commonly held by provincial yokels throughout the course of human history. It goes a little something like this: great peoples use high technology, therefore high technology makes a people great, therefore our display of high technology will convince great people that we are also a great people. Nonsense. We are much more likely to embarass ourselves, bragging about a huge toy worthy of gaping stares while other people produce painstaking art worthy of affection and respect, but the catch of ignorance is that we won't even know it. When Mr. Silvetti shows more interest in the Schermerhorn than he does in the Viridian, many Nashvillians might shrug and think him quaint and Olde Worldy. No, my brethren and sistren, the man is just a grown-up. To answer your question: Yes. The Empire State Building was part of a big public-relations stunt, a massive fad, a giant barking contest in which headlines were the objective, not real virtue or achievement of any but the most mundane sort. The aesthetic success of the building has nothing to do with its massive size, and everything to do with its materials, internal proportions, and its picturesque power as a popular icon. There are better buildings in New York and elsewhere. The thing was built to a scale only King Kong could really relate to, and it is nice that he got a chance to prove it. The whole affair seems to me a bunch of childish, sqawking exhibitionism enacted without concern for beauty or decorum, in an attempt to solicit the attention of either a rich man or a better man... Look, ma! No hands! Structural novelty for its own sake! Yes there are--and they are called the "Hudson River," the "East River," the "Harlem River," and a really huge wall called the "Atlantic Ocean." Some people consider the New Jersey state line to be an impenetrable wall. I would include Wall Street, but the wall was actually torn down some time ago, and the hotdogs are better at Columbus Circle. How does one judge the appropriateness of building height, you ask? Simple! Remember that architecture is separate from sculpture because it the "Stage of Human Events," not an assortment of objects fashioned for their own sake. The stage must serve the actors. By considering a building's usefulness and decorous delight to the human body and the human eye, we find a practical set of criteria for architectural success. For example, can a human being relate to the building, inside and out? Can a human see it properly, and enjoy its contributions to the public realm? Can a person escape it reasonably quickly in a fire or some other kind of disaster (these happen)? Can one open the windows on a bankin' Spring day? Can people enjoy the feeling they get from looking at it from, say, less than three miles away? All of this is called...dum-ta-tum...the Human Scale. It rules. It has a great track record. We should try it sometime.
  14. Sprawl was not created solely by the marketplace...it was heavily subsidized by local, state, and federal governments at every level, and was administered from above by regulatory agencies who came to believe that the The Athens Charter and other assorted Modernist dogma was the key to the creation of cities of futuristic mechanical glory. I know that's a side note, Metro.M, but I had to throw it in there. So many sprawl apologists argue that capitalism and freedom bore the automobile suburbs into this world...when in actuality, pure capitalism and freedom would have kept the government out of the business of financially advocating Modernist town planning principles and we would not have been able to erect sprawl at anything like the scale we have it today. Sprawl is a socialized enterprise. What private developer would build their own road to nowhere--and maintain it over time--just to open up thousands of acres of land they don't own to purely car-oriented development? I don't like skyscrapers. I think they are cheezy, butt-redneck, and unhealthily out of scale with the human being. The Signature Tower, however...for an obese blubber-mouth of a phallic middle finger...gets a lot of things right. It is embellished, it has ground-level retail, the parking is underground and/or masked (just like other ugly things, like sewage pipes), it will be built with decent materials (unlike the paper-mach
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