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MTSUBlueraider86

Will Nashville ever be a Skyscraper City?

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I was reading the Wall Street Journal yesterday and there was an article on Dubai. Dubai is one of 7 Emirates. (Abu Dhabi is the largest of the 7 and has had the same construction boom as Dubai.) Even in an economy with a 38% vacancy rate for the office towers, they are still building large towers on speculation. I know this will never be Nashville, but will we ever see such a boom? Nota Bene, Dubai has no oil. Their construction boom was based on a real estate economy and loans from other Arab states.

Granted, Dubai is not very dense. They are in need of a lot of infill. Many there still live nomadic lifestyles in the desert, so a lot of the "residents" are expats from America and Europe.

Will Nashville ever be a skyscraper city? Will we ever have rows and rows of residential towers like Dubai and Abu Dhabi? Will Nashville continue to be very cautious in development as we always have?

Will we always be a suburban dominated city?

Thoughts?

BR86

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Will Nashville ever be a skyscraper city? Will we ever have rows and rows of residential towers like Dubai and Abu Dhabi? Will Nashville continue to be very cautious in development as we always have?

Will we always be a suburban dominated city?

Thoughts?

BR86

Skyscrapers are pretty much monuments to ego. They are not the most practical means of arranging functional space. The things Nashville is known for economically, like music and education, don't require vertical space to function. For height you need a critical mass of egotistical yahoos that compete to see who can outbuild the other. Which is fine, if not amusing. But the heart of skyscraper development beyond that which is organic is through some fresh economic contrivance, such as becoming a financial center like NYC or London by getting rid of all corporate taxes or going wild west with deregulation or being the world's center for derivatives trading. Nashville needs a better angle for the financial sector as well as corporations to come here to erect their monuments to themselves, better than other such existing cities.

While I'd like to see skyscrapers going up like gangbusters, stupid season would ensue. I think in the end we'd lose the city we love.

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I was reading the Wall Street Journal yesterday and there was an article on Dubai. Dubai is one of 7 Emirates. (Abu Dhabi is the largest of the 7 and has had the same construction boom as Dubai.) Even in an economy with a 38% vacancy rate for the office towers, they are still building large towers on speculation. I know this will never be Nashville, but will we ever see such a boom? Nota Bene, Dubai has no oil. Their construction boom was based on a real estate economy and loans from other Arab states.

Granted, Dubai is not very dense. They are in need of a lot of infill. Many there still live nomadic lifestyles in the desert, so a lot of the "residents" are expats from America and Europe.

Will Nashville ever be a skyscraper city? Will we ever have rows and rows of residential towers like Dubai and Abu Dhabi? Will Nashville continue to be very cautious in development as we always have?

Will we always be a suburban dominated city?

Thoughts?

BR86

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Dubai is the mouse that roared, the skyline-in-a-box, the wannabe that bought its way into the party through extortionist oil prices... Don't compare anything in America to Dubai; it's apples and oranges.

I was reading the Wall Street Journal yesterday and there was an article on Dubai. Dubai is one of 7 Emirates. (Abu Dhabi is the largest of the 7 and has had the same construction boom as Dubai.) Even in an economy with a 38% vacancy rate for the office towers, they are still building large towers on speculation. I know this will never be Nashville, but will we ever see such a boom? Nota Bene, Dubai has no oil. Their construction boom was based on a real estate economy and loans from other Arab states.

Granted, Dubai is not very dense. They are in need of a lot of infill. Many there still live nomadic lifestyles in the desert, so a lot of the "residents" are expats from America and Europe.

Will Nashville ever be a skyscraper city? Will we ever have rows and rows of residential towers like Dubai and Abu Dhabi? Will Nashville continue to be very cautious in development as we always have?

Will we always be a suburban dominated city?

Thoughts?

BR86

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The question perhaps is not "will" Nashville ever be a skyscraper city but, rather, "should" it be? I would say "no."

Ideally, Nashville's urban core will offer primarily tastefully designed small to mid-sized mixed-use buildings (three to 10 stories) with the occasional high-rise (up to 500 feet) for vista punctuation and man-made environment variety. Lots of tall buildings would limit the need for the small to mid-sized mixed-use buildings that make things interesting on a pedestrian (i.e., ground) level -- and that provide the type building and people density that drives mass transit. Among mid-sized cities, Portland is a great example of this model. It has a handful of buildings 300 feet or taller and a plethora of structures in the three- to seven-story range.

Just like we don't want a sprawling built fabric with every building of one use, "horizontal constructed" and sited on lots of dead acreage, we don't want, say, 20 buildings of 500 feet or taller and a sea of surface parking "connecting" those towers. A middle ground (much like the one I describe previously) is preferred.

WW

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Nashvile's economy is not one that would require supertall high rises. We are not a city of Fortune 500 Corporate headquarters. We have instead, a diversified economy lead by the entertainment/tourist industries and the medical industry.

If anything, we might see more hotels. and condos in the 10 to 20 story range with similiar size office buildings featuring sub HQ offices (ie; Caterpillar Financial Services). I can see a lot of that kind of mid-size development occurring in the West End/Mid Town area. It will become a very densly built area, comparable (on a smaller scale, of course) to Boston's Back Bay or San francisco's Mission District.

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The longer I'm away from Nashville the more I appreciate it. Although it may not have dozens of skyscrapers downtown, the vibrancy downtown is something most cities would kill for. It's filling in and it'll get more urban, but you can't just create a fun downtown.

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It is pretty difficult to compare Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Nashville. Like jme3 above mentioned, it's an apples to oranges comparison--on all sorts of levels. Not least of which is that those are the main (only?) city of their respective, eponymous emirate, whereas Nashville is one of dozens of similarly mid-size regional metro hubs across this vast and diffuse nation. I don't believe Nashville will ever have the economic clout and wherewithal to build on such a scale as a Dubai. Once again, that would be for a whole host of reasons. If you love skyscrapers, there's always Chicago and NYC; they're still building at a fairly decent clip.

I'm with William on this one. I think Nashville's economy can grow and we'll see more growth in the core hopefully (spurred by smarter planning and a populace more in tune with the benefits--health, economic, social and otherwise--of living a little closer together) in the next decades, but mostly low and mid-rise with a smattering of 500 footers. Which is how I'd prefer it to play out anyway. As William mentioned, high-rises suck up all the density leaving vast pockets of empty space that could otherwise be filled with more smaller buildings; and in my mind more small buildings is better than fewer real tall buildings. As has been said many, many times on this and similar forums, the downtown skyscraper districts of big cities aren't where the action is. They make for cool photographs, but past the initial gee whiz factor, they don't make great spaces for people to spend time in. (In certain instances, high-rises can play a role in energetic neighborhoods, given their being of mixed-use with active ground floors but this typology requires a mega city level population which isn't something Nashville is on the verge of attaining I don't think)

Thems my two and a half cents. Hope everyone's doing well.

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I hope all is well for you in the military Phillip. Stay safe. I would prefer every surface lot be filled with an 8-15 story building. I think Tony G's. Signature Tower was way out of scale, although I liked it. I think if he had built another 20-30 story building, that lot would be filled by now. I mentioned Dubai as an example of a skyscraper city without much character.

BR86

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Friends,

Nashvillain with the defining comment: "more small buildings is better than fewer real tall buildings."

Dubai might look more fabulous from afar, but Paris is cooler up close. (Sadly, I've visited neither.)

WW

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Interesting article on skyscraper development and how new modern skyscrapers tend to attract business.

http://americancity.org/columns/entry/2654/

BR86

Um, I think the article states that the logic behind this upsurge in supertall construction is that the buildings should attract business, not that they do in fact attract business.

"The logic goes like this: If cities don’t cast a pall over their streets with the latest, greatest, most imposing high-tech monoliths, then requisite global investments will go elsewhere. Cities need the hardware to accommodate top end knowledge sectors in an increasingly competitive economy that subjects localities to competition from everywhere else. Grounded in reality or not, that’s the narrative that justifies these massive projects."

In discussing the Shanghai's Jin Mao and 1 WTC, the author states (I added italics to emphasize the point that supertalls are supersucky when it comes to street life):

"Each is part of larger mixed-use complexes in the tradition of garden city modernism, making organic development at the street level a worry.Shanghai planners, I’m told, are trying to somehow change course and make the Financial Center’s surrounding grand boulevards inviting for pedestrians. I’m guessing the Trade Center site will be somewhat better in this regard, but its street life will probably feel dull next to New York’s miraculous small-scale districts."

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I think the point is made, should Nashville be a skyscraper city? NO!

Nashville would be better served to emulate a city like Portland, Oregon. ESU and I had this discussion yesterday and I would rather have every surface parking lot filled with a mid-rise than have a city with dozens of tall buildings and no infill.

BR86

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I think the point is made, should Nashville be a skyscraper city? NO!

Nashville would be better served to emulate a city like Portland, Oregon. ESU and I had this discussion yesterday and I would rather have every surface parking lot filled with a mid-rise than have a city with dozens of tall buildings and no infill.

BR86

Agreed. But I think we would all gladly see to it that BR86 never bowled again if, in exchange, Nashville's downtown and Midtown could be crammed with low-rises, mid-rises and high-rises, with at least 10 buildings of 800 feet or taller. No surface parking. Pedestrians everywhere. Mass transit. Shops, eateries, cultural offerings, parks. Oh, a man can dream.

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ESU, not so fast my friend...There is a tower in Chicago that has a bowling center on the 4th floor I believe right in the heart of the city! I remember salivating when I saw the neon lights in the window.

BR86

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ESU, not so fast my friend...There is a tower in Chicago that has a bowling center on the 4th floor I believe right in the heart of the city! I remember salivating when I saw the neon lights in the window.

BR86

I believe Chicago's iconic -- and corn-on-the-cob like Marina City towers -- features a bowling alley in its shared commons space.

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It depends. I doubt it, especially anytime soon. Like others have said great cities don't need a lot of height. Just visited Baltimore and their tallest is 529, 509 then 4 400, and the majority around 300-400. It's a great looking city and they just built several 300 ft towers at the Waterfront.

edit: I think architecture is more important than height or even infill (would rather be patient and short for quality buildings rather than rushed cookie cutter). Make it look good and standout and it will make an impression. Various building styles are nice too. Of course everyone has their own definition of what looks "good."

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