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EastOfTheCumberland

Bad Nashville architecture/architects

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My partner and I have been here a scant few months, and I must say after reading this site, and from what he tells me about is being developed at his office,  Nashville architecture is a joke. Some of the work coming out of his firm is bland and uninspired. The MCC, Pinnacle, and ATT Building not withstanding, most of what is here is junk!

 

The guitar building and the proposals for the old fairgrounds are atrocious.

 

So what is the problem? Why so much junk? Why is Nashville so conservative? Why so uninspired?

 

Help!!!!! I'm confused!!! Where have we moved to?

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I'm not going to pretend that Nashville is some architecture mecca or has a plethora of stunning and unique work...but calling most of it a "joke" is preposterous. 

 

Where are you viewing this from, the interstate? The skyscrapers may not be overly impressive, but there are plenty of jewels among the smaller buildings. 

 

The State Capitol (Greek Revival) building is a very important one that you missed, as well as the Symphony Hall (neoclassical), the City Hall/County Courthouse and Frist Museum (Art Deco), Hermitage Hotel (Beaux Arts), Union Station (Victorian-Romanesque), and quite a few churches like the Downtown Presbyterian (Egyptian Revival) and Christ Church (Gothic Revival). Quite a few other historic businesses, civic buildings, churches, and thousands of homes would take offense to being generalized as "jokes."

 

Take a look at my downtown walking tour from a couple of years ago (scroll to post #105 and continue)

 

http://www.city-data.com/forum/nashville/556859-nashville-pictures-11.html

 

Sure, some of the styles are bland, blocky, uninspiring 60s-70s modern architecture. Some of them are downright criminal. But a lot are at least on par with most of the other building of their era. Skyscraper-wise, L&C has it's own nostalgic appeal, Fifth Third is postmodern with some Egyptian nods to the Downtown Presbyterian Church across the street, and the Viridian is at least attractive for a residential high rise.

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Btw, the guitar building is a PROPOSAL, and hasn't been approved or anything else. It IS a joke, and most recognize it as such. The rendering alone makes it hard to take it as a serious possibility. No self-respecting architect would pass off a bar napkin drawing like that as a rendering.

 

Same goes for the Fairgrounds proposal. We've had crap like this proposed from time to time...most of it not overly serious. I'll start to worry when they get approval and actually start building. Until then, I'll just dismiss it.

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Look, I agree with you that generally speaking, architectural standards in the city need to be raised and that the citizenry should demand much higher quality than some of the horrendous proposals that have reared their heads as of late.

 

However, to put it bluntly, you sound pretty ridiculous with your rather pompous attitude.  With the way you're talking one might assume that you were from a renown world architecture capital like London or Barcelona.  But you aren't.  You're from the city that is seen by most as the poster child for 'conservative architectural and urban design blandness'.  Nothing against Atlanta.  I like it.  But...it's just Atlanta.  In other words, you really have no justification for acting as though you are the enlightened citizen of some global cultural and artistic mecca damned to live your life among the backwater slugs in Nashville.  Atlanta has quite a few attractive token skyscrapers, no doubt, but few people outside of Atlanta would put much of a gap, if any, between the city of Nashville and the city of Atlanta when it comes to the overall beauty and/or progressiveness of it's architecture.  

 

Essentially what I'm saying is that much of what you say about Nashville is true, and few, if any here would deny that.  But you, as a former citizen of Atlanta, should kind of get over yourself, because Atlanta has all the same problems that Nashville does when it comes to architecture.

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Compared to some southern cities Nashville's architecture is pretty good. Not to bash my home and current city take a look at Columbia SC skyline if you want to see bad architecture. All we have except one building is really boxes, even our newest tower (2009) is a glass box. Then i think you will appreciate how Nashville's architecture.

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I honestly do not know how you could argue that Nashville is a "joke" when it comes to architecture. Yes maybe it is if you do not count the last 10 years or so, but with all of the recent projects I would say Nashville is far from that. If anything all you have pointed out is that your partner's firm is a joke. There are not many cities where you can see such a wide variety of architecture for a city the size of Nashville. The initial core of Nashville is very 70-80s, but is starting to push out some pretty modern designs over the past 20 years or so. (i.e. Batman, Sobro area, gulch, etc.) There have been some pretty inspiring proposals also that have been presented. Signature Tower and almost all designs by Giarratana have push the bars for what Nashville is known for.

 

I love Atlanta, and from reading a lot of what you post on here I know you miss it, but I would not say they are that far ahead of Nashville.

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Look, I agree with you that generally speaking, architectural standards in the city need to be raised and that the citizenry should demand much higher quality than some of the horrendous proposals that have reared their heads as of late.

 

However, to put it bluntly, you sound pretty ridiculous with your rather pompous attitude.  With the way you're talking one might assume that you were from a renown world architecture capital like London or Barcelona.  But you aren't.  You're from the city that is seen by most as the poster child for 'conservative architectural and urban design blandness'.  Nothing against Atlanta.  I like it.  But...it's just Atlanta.  In other words, you really have no justification for acting as though you are the enlightened citizen of some global cultural and artistic mecca damned to live your life among the backwater slugs in Nashville.  Atlanta has quite a few attractive token skyscrapers, no doubt, but few people outside of Atlanta would put much of a gap, if any, between the city of Nashville and the city of Atlanta when it comes to the overall beauty and/or progressiveness of it's architecture.  

 

Essentially what I'm saying is that much of what you say about Nashville is true, and few, if any here would deny that.  But you, as a former citizen of Atlanta, should kind of get over yourself, because Atlanta has all the same problems that Nashville does when it comes to architecture.

A little harsh with personal attacks. I guess I won't be posting here anymore. Forget this! No need to show up a a forum meet. I can imagine what you and the rest  are like in person!

Edited by EastOfTheCumberland

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A little harsh with personal attacks. I guess I won't be posting here anymore. Forget this! No need to show up a a forum meet. I can imagine what you and the rest  are like in person!
 

Perhaps BNA was too harsh, but honestly what did you expect the outcome to be when you post on a Nashville forum and essentially tell us our architecture sucks?

 

Plenty of us have gripes about our city -- but we still love it. We can still recognize the positive aspects while being critical of where we need improvement. 

 

I think I speak for the majority of us when I say that we would like to see an improvement in architecture and urban style in our newer construction. But that doesn't mean there aren't any fine examples being constructed or proposed.

 

For example, for every atrocious Strings that is proposed, there is a 505 CST. For every hideous Project Nashville Skyline, there is a OneC1tyNashville

 

So forgive us if we are a bit sensitive about you highlighting our most negative aspects. From reading your posts here and on other forums, you seem to have never been comfortable with moving here in the first place, and finding any reason to move back. And, to be honest, some of that is understandable. If you and your partner prefer what Atlanta has, then it is probably the best place for you to live. But I must say your negative attitude never gave Nashville a chance to work. We are not Atlanta. Frankly, we don't want to be Atlanta. We are Nashville, and we want to be Nashville. If you are looking for Atlanta here, you won't find it. You have to be in Atlanta to find Atlanta.

 

I think you should come to terms with Nashville being a quite different place -- in both appearance and culture -- than Atlanta. I think learning to appreciate the differences between cities would go a long way to helping you cope with living here -- if you still plan to do so.

 

And you are certainly welcome to come to the forum meets. I promise you that it is a relaxed, laid back atmosphere. Discussions are very informative, and disagreements are very civil. We all have our differing opinions, but are united in the cause to make Nashville a better city.

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Please refrain from any personal name calling, snipes, or whatever you want to call it. We can all agree to disagree about things but with out all of the assumptions about attitudes. I can’t let that happen on this board. We have not had any problems here for a good while and I don’t want it to start now.

I don’t want to start doing warning or banning people from this board and I do realize the more traffic we have the more potential problems we can have. We are all here to have fun and have common interest and I think we can self police ourselves.

 

Please be respectful of one another on here.

 

Please feel free to continue posting here East of the Cumberland. You are welcome at the forum meets along with all others here.

 

As for Nashville architecture I must say I agree with much of what East of the Cumberland has said. I have had this discussion with several people and we have very few cutting edge modern buildings and a lot of suburban crap that was allowed to be built in the 70's 80's and the 90's.

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A little harsh with personal attacks. I guess I won't be posting here anymore. Forget this! No need to show up a a forum meet. I can imagine what you and the rest are like in person!

So, let me get this straight. You make a post taking a giant crap all over the city of Nashville, and you are surprised that people didn't really take too kindly to it? Not only that, but you are complaining of personal attacks because someone simply calls out your attitude (which is really the only comment that resemble a "personal attack" that I made) proceeding then to threaten to leave the forum and never come to meets? Why? That makes absolutely no sense. I apologize if I somehow misunderstood your intentions with this post, but honestly, if you are going to come out jabbing, you cant get all upset when people jab back. Perhaps if you had worded your post a bit differently, you wouldn't have received the response that you did, because as I said, I agree with the crux of your post. But for you to just come out and call Nashville "a joke"...I mean come on, did you really expect that to go over well?

By the way, don't let me keep you from forum meets. I am never there, because I live in Chicago.

Edited by BnaBreaker
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As for Nashville architecture I must say I agree with much of what East of the Cumberland has said. I have had this discussion with several people and we have very few cutting edge modern buildings and a lot of suburban crap that was allowed to be built in the 70's 80's and the 90's.

I would agree that if you confined the scope of architecture to the 70s-90s, there isn't much at all to brag about...but that certainly doesn't constitute the entire city. There are some wonderful 19th and early 20th Century buildings.

I would like to make a point of noting that the current Fifth Third Center was built in the 80s, and Batman and the downtown library came out of the 90s.

I think there has been an improvement in style during the 2000s, though you still see cookie cutter crap in the suburban areas. I am encouraged with some of the more modern individual houses that have popped up in Sylvan Heights, Germantown, and that tiny pocket down 2nd Ave S.

In principle, I agree that we are lacking, or behind the curve in general in terms of architecture. But I am not a fan of using absolutist terms to quantify just how bad it is. I've been to plenty of places around the country that have boring or uninspiring architecture...but almost all of them have true gems somewhere.

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As far as the architecture in Nashville I find it inspirational. The L and N train station\ Hotel, Frist art museum/ art deco post office, The customs House,The state Capital, The old city market house, The Ryman, The courthouse and public square, The war memorial bld,The downtown library, 2nd ave buildings Symphony Hall, Music city center, ATT tower,Pinnacle tower,The Arcade, Fisk campus, Vanderbilt and Peabody campus,Belmont,The Hermitage and the many Plantations Homes in middle Tenn. I would not trade one of the mentioned buildings above for one in Atlanta!

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As far as the architecture in Nashville I find it inspirational. The L and N train station\ Hotel, Frist art museum/ art deco post office, The customs House,The state Capital, The old city market house, The Ryman, The courthouse and public square, The war memorial bld,The downtown library, 2nd ave buildings Symphony Hall, Music city center, ATT tower,Pinnacle tower,The Arcade, Fisk campus, Vanderbilt and Peabody campus,Belmont,The Hermitage and the many Plantations Homes in middle Tenn. I would not trade one of the mentioned buildings above for one in Atlanta!

There are also a lot of very handsome buildings like Terrazzo and the Adelicia which may not be landmarks but are quite attractive.  The massing of the Icon as you approach going South on 12th impresses me every time.

 

And I really like the sharp juxtaposition of new and old downtown, and the way from a distance, say across the river, you have all these old brick buildings with this kind of mountain of newer buildings towering over them.  And I think the stadium looks great the way it's framed when you're heading east on Church St. 

 

And it's technically not architecture I guess but Cumberland Park is great looking and truly innovative.  Personally, I don't care much about skylines or monumental buildings, I care about the city at the street level, walkability, lively street life, and about views and vistas.  And while a lot of Nashville is a blank slate (i.e., surface parking and underused 1 story commercial/industrial buildings) it looks great anyway and is developing at an exciting pace.  Plus we got a million bars and live music in every one.

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EastOfTheCumberland, I had a very long and thoughtful response to this thread that I just unfortunately lost by accidentally closing my browser.  :angry: I don't have the time to re-type it again today, but I will try to summarize it briefly before getting some work done.

 

I think the negativity you are receiving is a matter of how you have decided to approach addressing some of your concerns about Nashville. I noted that you seemed really sensitive when it came to BNA's rather honest mini-critique of Atlanta above. I would encourage you to look back through your recent Nashville complaints on SSP, SSC and here in various city forums, replace Nashville with Atlanta in those posts of yours and Atlanta with Chicago (or any other city substantially larger than ATL with a more significant history). After doing this, seriously ponder how those posts from a recent transplant from Chicago would come off to you as an Atlantan. Would you want to take the said transplant seriously if most of their posts center around how behind ATL is compared to the much larger place they just left and are filled with hyperbolic statements? Seriously, how would you respond to ATL's built environment being called a "joke" or "junk?" 

 

I think many of us may agree with the crux of what you are trying to get across here. As you can probably already tell, we have many of the same critiques about some of the current projects and proposals. With this in mind, I would encourage you to try to do the following:

 

(1) Actually attend a forum meet. I recall you saying that you haven't had the opportunity to really explore because of work (totally understandable). Maybe attending the meeting, discussing what's going on, and taking the time to do a drive or walk through some of these new areas with people better acquainted with them will help you appreciate what's happening here a little more. This may also be helpful for you as I get the sense that people often come over much better in face to face conversation than they do on the internet.

 

(2) Make a concerted effort to actually give Nashville a chance. This may be difficult to do if your heart is set in Atlanta and you are lacking a few things you loved here. Like utgrad, I also get the sense that this just wasn't a move you wanted to make. If you are starting off from the position that Nashville can never match Atlanta for you, then you are just setting yourself up for failure, tbh. You have to make the commitment to accept Nashville for what it is instead of wanting it to be another city. You will never be able to appreciate all the positive recent and upcoming improvements here (believe me, there are many!) if you're filtering them through the Atlanta lenses. 

 

(3) Try to be more considerate in your post about cities. Starting off by trashing a place is never going to win you any fans. 

 

I would encourage you to continue to participate in this forum as well. It's always great having the perspective of people from different places whether it is positive or negative. Don't let one disagreement run you off.  

Edited by ariesjow
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I don’t see all of this supposed horrible architecture.  I just don’t and neither do most of the visitors I deal with when on the job. They think the buildings in Nashville are "beautiful" and ask "are they new". Maybe it’s because they are business people with reasonable success and stable employment who are not trailing behind their “partner” from place to place.

 

Nashville has an eclectic variety of buildings that unlike Atlanta do not resemble or cookie cut from one another. In fact certain views look like they were from a science fiction movie or novel, such as driving northward on 1st avenue or driving eastward off Broadway from west of downtown.

 

* The tornado colored rocket ship building.

* The tan and blue building with the antennas that looks like some space age signal tower.

* The blue transparent building that looks like a tower from a science fiction show.

* The white and blue tower that looks like a giant Chinese temple.

* The City Center building that has three cut-in layers when you view it from the north.

* The gold building that has a crown of girders and has half of its frame off its foundation.

* The Renaissance Hotel that when viewed coming from west end has a paper thin futuristic look.

* The arena which looks like some form of space ship.

* The Holiday Inn which looks like nomad from Star Trek.

* Add to that the Mohawk buildings that are in the process of being constructed which also have a futuristic look.

 

Then you have the L & C building and the white lego block looking building which both have nice look for the time they were built in. 

 

You have to be blind to say that Nashville has bland architecture or you have some personal biases or issues that shouldn't be made the problems of the people on this forum.

Edited by grecian

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Half of Atlanta's buildings are cookie cutter copycat's of each other. A basic rectangle frame with a spire at the top. You can barely tell them apart. Why is that? Is it some homage to gothic architecture? If so, did someone come up with that idea while watching cheesy late night reruns of count dracula in transylvania? I'm surprised they didn't outfit the buildings with black trenchcoats.

 

Or did the idea come from someone who wanted to imitate New York City? If so, that is even more sad and pathetic than the gothic transylvania obsession. I'm glad the city of Nashville was not star struck with another city to do something as embarrasing as try and imitate its architecture.

 

Most of the rest of the buildings look like like they could fit in well in a downtown of a city in the old Soviet Union.

Edited by grecian

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Ok people.  Let's dial it back a bit.  This shouldn't turn into a p&##ing contest.

 

To East's defense, he has probably only seen a handful of the city and with the two he mention, guitar building and fairgrounds, of course that is going to be skewed because those are at the bottom of the list as far as renderings go.  The fairgrounds idea isn't too bad, but like some proposals we've seen and heard, not going to put much into it unless I see a large financial backing and support from many.

 

Anyways, East is probably feeling homesick as well.  So he saying Nashville architecture is bland and junk comes from a small portion size and panicky feelings of change (I say this fully understanding this feeling;  I am moving in a few weeks and while happy it also is a change I will have to get used to;  although a simple move, I still feel a bit down and anxious about it).

 

I understand it is easy to become quick to defend our city and make fun of his, in this case ATL.  However, this should not be the way to act.  A better approach would be to empathize with East with comfort about moving and (or at the very least) bring to East's attention that we have several buildings that East might like.  If you are feeling really friendly invite him to meet and take a tour of the city.

 

Of course we have our fair share of crappy stuff as I am sure ATL does as well.  In fact every city is going to have its good, bad, and ugly.  In addition, as cliche and corny it may seem, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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I put off reading this thread because I thought it was a firm bashing thread, which I didn't want to take part in, but DAMN do I need to beotch a little. 

 

I've been working in Revit building a model of a 300,000 sq ft building here in Memphis designed by a Nashville firm, who will remain unnamed, and throughout the entire construction document book there was not a single section displaying the height from slab to slab. I want to say that a portion of the book was taken out because there aren't any structural drawings either.  The building also has a third floor and mechanical pent house which aren't shown anywhere in the drawings. 

 

On top of that there are regular contradictions as far as wall thicknesses, virtually no call outs, and a column grid that to me makes no sense at all. According to the column grid, there should be a column in a doorway.  wtf?

 

 

And for the record, I'm not trying to say that Nashville architecture is bad what so ever at all, or that firms in Nashville produce bad work. Just wanted to vent a little. 

Edited by arkitekte

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I put off reading this thread because I thought it was a firm bashing thread, which I didn't want to take part in, but DAMN do I need to beotch a little. 

 

I've been working in Revit building a model of a 300,000 sq ft building here in Memphis designed by a Nashville firm, who will remain unnamed, and throughout the entire construction document book there was not a single section displaying the height from slab to slab. I want to say that a portion of the book was taken out because there aren't any structural drawings either.  The building also has a third floor and mechanical pent house which aren't shown anywhere in the drawings. 

 

On top of that there are regular contradictions as far as wall thicknesses, virtually no call outs, and a column grid that to me makes no sense at all. According to the column grid, there should be a column in a doorway.  wtf?

 

 

And for the record, I'm not trying to say that Nashville architecture is bad what so ever at all, or that firms in Nashville produce bad work. Just wanted to vent a little. 

 

That's just sad.  Hopefully a mix up. Why do people not care what they produce?  No matter what it is, I would think doing the best damn job would be best for business.  To me, image means a lot and can range from simply holding the door for someone to your job, especially if it something like that!  Of course I'm not perfect by any means, but I try my hardest most of the time.  

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I put off reading this thread because I thought it was a firm bashing thread, which I didn't want to take part in, but DAMN do I need to beotch a little. 

 

I've been working in Revit building a model of a 300,000 sq ft building here in Memphis designed by a Nashville firm, who will remain unnamed, and throughout the entire construction document book there was not a single section displaying the height from slab to slab. I want to say that a portion of the book was taken out because there aren't any structural drawings either.  The building also has a third floor and mechanical pent house which aren't shown anywhere in the drawings. 

 

On top of that there are regular contradictions as far as wall thicknesses, virtually no call outs, and a column grid that to me makes no sense at all. According to the column grid, there should be a column in a doorway.  wtf?

 

 

And for the record, I'm not trying to say that Nashville architecture is bad what so ever at all, or that firms in Nashville produce bad work. Just wanted to vent a little. 

 

Not being in "the business", I reallydon't know what this means.  And does this mean it's the client who is giving the contradictions... or the architects causing unnecessary design elements?  I assume Revit is a software package that develops architectural models.

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I would tend to believe it is more the client calling the shots (is that a Memphis based client), and less a phenomenon of "Nashville architects" or any other architects from any other city.   The client, such as Alex Palmer with WES, would dictate a 1990s looking twin box design as opposed to a cutting-edge tower.  Architects are trained in universities around the country. There is no "Nashville architecture school", and I'm pretty sure there's not even an architecture school there.

Edited by MLBrumby

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^^^Huh? Is that a response to what I said? Client calling the shots? I didn't say anything about a client. And re read my last sentence. 

Not being in "the business", I reallydon't know what this means.  And does this mean it's the client who is giving the contradictions... or the architects causing unnecessary design elements?  I assume Revit is a software package that develops architectural models.

 

The original architecture firm who designed this building in the late 80's are the ones making the contradictions. The more I work on it the more I find. And yes, Revit is a BIM program now owned by Autodesk. 

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My 2 cents... I used to be very hard on Nashville, but moving about the nation I've learned that no place is perfect. Even cities like Portland and Atlanta can be considered fairly bland on the whole.

 

My favorite city is Toronto, not New York or Chicago, and most people consider the architecture there to be 'bland' relative to other places. I beg to differ, because sometimes old isn't always cool. I love modern, so Toronto fits for me. I like old and ornate, but it sometimes can be ratty and tattered and the buildings aren't really functional other than to look at from the outside.

 

Architecture and the enjoyment of buildings is completely based on opinion. Who are we to judge one another too strongly on our opinions? What I find gold you may find to be trash or vice versa.

 

Quite frankly I think most of the newer buildings I'm seeing in the projects thread are quite interesting. Then again, I love modernism. I yearn to live in a modern world. Its great to have historic buildings in the mix, but it isn't great if your entire city is based in the past.

 

Again, just my 2 cents.

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This ins't just a Nashville, or even southern problem, it's an American problem. I've been lucky enough to travel around the world and across the country, and I can honestly say there are maybe 5, million + cities in North America that genuinely have beautiful architecture. I did find it amusing someone from Atlanta was calling out Nashville on it's architecture. That's like an accountant calling someone bland. 

Edited by wbrewer3
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