Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Nashville Cliff

Is city beauty in the eye of the beholder?

9 posts in this topic


Agreed... de Botton oversimplifies... as I don't know anyone who would claim that "Lower Broadway" is pretty... but it does attract people (tourists) with its excitement. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well his very first point

Order (buildings should be uniform in appearance and layout—to a degree);

is absolute rubbish IMHO.  For me, variety in form, scale, shape, color, purpose, age, etc. is the thing most essential to beauty.  Take a drive through the over-regulated subdivisions of Williamson County:  hideous, largely due to the suffocating lack of variety.

 

I would say Lower Broad is pretty.  It looks great, glassy modern buildings rising behind old brick ones, most of the buildings manifestations of both a history and a living city, in that practically none of them are being used as cotton warehouses or whatever they once were.  I loved it when that bank was a tattoo parlor, I think it's a boot store now.  And neon is fabulous.

 

For me, uniformity of scale is probably the worst thing.  I hope midtown retains a lot of its small buildings.  I like the 25 story apt. towers but I'd like to see a mix of old repurposed mansions and small commercial buildings in between.

 

I don't disagree  him fundamentally, I just value chaos more.

Edited by Neigeville2
3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think he would argue that the over-regulated subdivisions are examples of too much order, which makes things boring. It's the reason the downtown area of Washington, DC is so soul-less (other than the soul-eating ceremonies that take a few blocks away on Capitol Hill, of course).  Every building is built to the same height, out of pretty much the same materials, and designed in such a way that they try to make the maximum use of their allotted cube-footage. This makes them all look blandly the same.

 

I think he places too much value on government mandated designs.  Cities like Amsterdam and Venice weren't built with amazing architecture in pleasing ways because the government deigned it so, they were built that way because they were constructed largely in eras that were conducive to their unique architectures.  Now, the government can step in to help with this (see: Charleston, SC's building codes), however it is often limited to preserving what private interest has constructed.  Unfortunately, government mandated design standards will, by the nature of the beast, often fall to the bland architecture by committee level.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

His point about plazas is interesting. There are a few places in Nashville I'd like to see a classic European-style plaza:

 

1) Symphony Pl - It's criminal that there is a parking lot just right there. Tear it out, lay down some paving stones, and voila!, you have a plaza people will gravitate to.

2) 4th and Demonbreun - The parking lot at the corner would be a splendid place for a public plaza.

3) The 11th and 12th Ave S. Split - Thompson Hotel is going here, otherwise it'd be awesome to have a little plaza here.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

His point about plazas is interesting. There are a few places in Nashville I'd like to see a classic European-style plaza:

 

1) Symphony Pl - It's criminal that there is a parking lot just right there. Tear it out, lay down some paving stones, and voila!, you have a plaza people will gravitate to.

2) 4th and Demonbreun - The parking lot at the corner would be a splendid place for a public plaza.

3) The 11th and 12th Ave S. Split - Thompson Hotel is going here, otherwise it'd be awesome to have a little plaza here.

 

Completely agreed.  One of the areas that Nashville, and American cities in general typically fail miserably at, is simply creating attractive and stimulating urban spaces.  We put a great deal of focus on the design of individual buildings, but what of all the space in between where the people actually are? 

 

How often do you see a space like Plaza Mayor in Lima below in American cities? 

 

lima-plaza-mayor.jpg

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's something I loved about Philadelphia: the public squares that were placed in the city plan.  Namely, two are drawn to my mind - Rittenhouse and Washington Squares.  These are about the closest thing to a European plaza I've ever seen in a US city, although they are still more of a park than a true plaza.

 

They also have a privately developed plaza in the Northern Liberties section of town called the Piazza at Schmidts. It's a medium-sized paved plaza surrounded by mid-rise apartments and cafes, a great place to relax on a summer afternoon.b979f7a9-dcf1-4f02-9efe-79240ddeefae.jpg

Edited by Nathan_in_DC
3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


That's something I loved about Philadelphia: the public squares that were placed in the city plan.  Namely, two are drawn to my mind - Rittenhouse and Washington Squares.  These are about the closest thing to a European plaza I've ever seen in a US city, although they are still more of a park than a true plaza.

 

They also have a privately developed plaza in the Northern Liberties section of town called the Piazza at Schmidts. It's a medium-sized paved plaza surrounded by mid-rise apartments and cafes, a great place to relax on a summer afternoon.

Yeah, I love Philly's layout, and I was really impressed by NoLibs.  I'm looking forward to getting back there sometime soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.