I recently had the opportunity to visit Nashville. First, there is nowhere with a better music scene than Nashville-nearly every watering-hole has at least 1 band if not two, and they’re all good. Really good. Good enough where it makes no difference if you like country music or not-when you’re there, you’ll like it. Driving around to visit various Country Music must-sees (including the very studio Elvis recorded about 1000 songs where one of our group played the same piano Elvis used to record with) I was struck most by the massive construction boom going on. There are new projects going up everywhere! There’s over 30 cranes in the Downtown area alone hoisting up new commercial buildings all over the place. The airport’s being rebuilt, and there’s massive numbers of hotels going up. And houses. Everywhere. Normally, I’d be appreciative of a building boom, but this is a bit much. First- there seems to have been no thought given at all to how such a massive buildup in such a short time will change traffic patterns, stress water and sewer facilities, etc. Second-there’s definitely no thought going into controlling or even influencing the architectural flavor of what’s being built. It’s obvious that the designs are coming from the same firms, drawing on the same influences, and none of them from Nashville. Most of the buildings I saw were what I’m starting to call “Box-on-Box” style…essentially the “contemporary” house that we see everywhere now. They’re typically designed with a smattering of wood on the outside, 3×6 panels of fiberboard, painted in various grays. Not only will these not hold up all that well over time, but they all look the same-charmless. The older, original homes of Nashville had clapboard siding and a kind of cool duel-pitched roof, low hung, down to a nice front porch. These have none of that at all-a lot of them are flat roofed 3 story monsters with no heart. Developers often are focused so much on the money aspect of their projects, they sometimes lose sight that what they create will be around for generations. We, in my industry, aren’t building disposable things. Our finished products last multiple lifetimes so I wish that the builders in a place like Nashville would reflect on what they’re doing a little, take a pause, and listen to a little Loretta Lynn or Willie Nelson before deciding to throw up another box-on-box monster. Nobody ever wrote a song like “Georgia on my Mind” standing on some deck of a glassed in house built to assuage the sensibilities of tourists from Rhode Island
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