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TMcKay9

ULI Urban Magnets

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Here is a video thats worth watching.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcBNcJYY1GM

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Awesome video.  Thanks for sharing.  There are obviously a lot of concepts that Nashville could really learn a lot from that are outlined in this video.  One of the most important concepts that is repeated constantly that I think Nashville in particular needs to focus much more on is the transition from private to public. 

 

It really grinds my gears when I see a large residential project that is essentially nothing more than an entity unto itself, with little to no regard for it's role in the neighborhood at large.  Nashville is chock full of sizable residential blocks that, while they provide some density and may even be built up to the street, are extremely inward facing and do very little to contribute to that public life that is so vital creating and maintaining the sense of vibrancy and place that, in my opinion, really is one of the primary advantages to living in an urban area in the first place. 

Edited by BnaBreaker

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Like the speaker using the Encore as an example.  Even though it built up to the side walk and has retail its still nothing less than brutal looking.  It's not welcoming at all, which is probably one of the reasons they've had such a tough time leasing the spaces out. 

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Like the speaker using the Encore as an example.  Even though it built up to the side walk and has retail its still nothing less than brutal looking.  It's not welcoming at all, which is probably one of the reasons they've had such a tough time leasing the spaces out. 

 

Totally agreed.  I like an attractive highrise just as much as the next guy, but that design should come secondary to how the building relates to the street.  Designing an urban building without that consideration is akin to designing a car with no steering wheel and no way to open the hood. 

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This is an interesting video.  I've been to Vancouver; it is indeed a great city that can serve as a model for other cities. But I'm glad that the presenter mentioned Montreal.  If Nashville is to look at a Canadian city for inspiration, I'd much rather mimic Montreal's environment than Vancouver's.  As he mentioned, Montreal has a much greater variety of architecture.  In addition, Montreal, like Nashville, is a city of neighborhoods--former towns that were swallowed up as Montreal expanded, very similar to what's happened and is happening in Nashville.  And, in spite of Montreal's brutal winter weather, the city has incredibly lively street activity, even in the middle of winter.  Montreal, unlike Vancouver, has been able to capitalize on its heritage of classic architecture, something I wish Nashville could do more of.  And, lastly, while Vancouver shuns freeways, Montreal hasn't.  Nashville will always be a city with a great network of highways which we should just learn to live with and incorporate into a great public transportation network the way Montreal has.

 

On a totally unrelated topic, Montreal also has the most gorgeous populace I've ever seen, male and female.  Vancouver, no.  So that's another reason I'd rather have Nashville mimic Montreal than Vancouver.  :)

Edited by jmtunafish
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I've been to Montreal a couple of times and while there are attributes I would like to see Nashville copy, two in particular are very appealing.

 

I really liked the Long Promenade down by the river and was delighted to see a similar one proposed for Nashville's west bank in the amphitheater plan.

 

And I also like Montreal's open minded embracing of the arts. There is very little censorship and something for everybody.

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One thing he says, which Nashville is totally getting wrong, is "eyes on the street". Many of our developments are shunning the street front patio.

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One thing he says, which Nashville is totally getting wrong, is "eyes on the street". Many of our developments are shunning the street front patio.

 

I guess it's to be expected when so many of the developers are local and still learning how to properly do projects in an urban setting. 

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Well, I think it's a cultural thing too, as well as the engrained fears of the back to the city movement. Most people probably see a street front doorway as "unsafe", whereas he is saying the opposite is true in Vancouver. But look at 99% of the developments we are getting. In most cases, street access is limited to one or two lobby entrances and if there is even sidewalk access to a unit, it's typically in the form of a gated patio and not a true front door.

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Well, I think it's a cultural thing too, as well as the engrained fears of the back to the city movement. Most people probably see a street front doorway as "unsafe", whereas he is saying the opposite is true in Vancouver. But look at 99% of the developments we are getting. In most cases, street access is limited to one or two lobby entrances and if there is even sidewalk access to a unit, it's typically in the form of a gated patio and not a true front door.

 

I know what you mean and I've noticed the same thing.   A number of these large apartment buildings front major thoroughfares (Franklin Rd, Rosa Parks, Jefferson St, etc) so maybe developers assume that ground floor residents don't want sidewalk access, maybe for the perceived safety concerns you point out.   That's probably the case where the apartments are the first development in an otherwise "empty" area - think 11 North.    In some cases the ground floor units on side streets do have doorsteps to the sidewalk (Vista Germantown and Madison Sq), but not everywhere.  

 

What is the solution?   I don't know the answer.    Is it a matter of market demand?    Renters here don't seem deterred so far by lack of sidewalk front doors.    Is it best handled through zoning?   I thought it was interesting in the Vancouver talk that building codes require a 2-3 step elevation difference (up) between the sidewalk and the front door.   Maybe that's for asthetics or possibly functional (flooding?), I don't know.     If you look at the 23Hundred units under construction in Berry Hill, some of the Franklin Rd facing units will actually be below street grade, separated from the sidewalk by a retaining wall.   

 

And then there's the opposite Note 16 first floor units floating 10 ft above a parking garage and a Gone With the Wind staircase needed to access the front door.   Ugh. 

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