Despite the snarkiness of some would be (?) architecture critics, it’s really hard to spend any time exploring the cavernous confines of the nearly completed Music City Center in downtown Nashville and not be impressed with the size, scope — and, yes — the design of the place.
What is it they say, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”? Then what is writing about architecture? Dancing about music? At least those two pursuit are compatible.
I think the point is that using one medium to critique another is an excercise in non-sequiturs. Which is not to say that there aren’t some people who can write eloquently and informatively about music, just as I am sure there are plenty who know what they are talking about when they write about architecture. But whoever it was who described Nashville’s new Convention Center as “the Christmas sweater of buildings” either does not have a particularly deep grasp of the subject matter – or has just never been inside the place.
Which I have, twice now. My friend Keith Miles, who is a partner at McNeely Piggot Fox (the PR firm that worked the beginnings of the convention center project) arranged for myself and a few other photographer types to have access to the site, guided by Holly McCall, who handles the PR for the project now.
Our first visit was back in July, when things were still pretty rough. This week we went back and saw that the final touches are being put in place in anticipation of opening the place in the spring.
I’m no authority on architecture, so I’m sure somebody who thinks he/she is will probably find all kinds of fault with my conclusions, but frankly I think the place is damn impressive.
For starters, it’s f’ing HUGE. The main exhibit hall is an expanse of EIGHT ACRES. Just the idea of saying “8 acres – INdoors!) challenges the imagination. Aren’t you glad you’re not the one who has have to vacuum this floor?
But what is most impressive in my eyes is the use of curves and angles throughout the both the interior and exterior of the building. It is stunningly different from Nashville’s present sorry excuse for a convention center, which, aside from being small and closed-in feeling, is simply devoid an any particular spacial originality. The existing convention center is just a stack of rectangular boxes. But here’s a typical hallway in the new building:
That looks to me like one of the decks on the Starship Enterprise.
Now, maybe there’s a case to me made that the “music” theme is a tad over done. For example, I’m hard pressed to see how the interior of the grand ballroom feels like “the interior of an acoustic guitar,” but it is certainly a warmly wooded space, and hopefully the way the ceiling is constructed will minimize the din one typically encounters when a room like this is filled to capacity: Most of you will have to wait until this summer to get inside and judge for yourself. The first big event on the Center’s schedule is Fan Fair (aka “CMA Music Festival) and while that’s not an event I would ordinarily think of attending, I might just buy some cheap seats just to see how the new Music City Center looks in action.
I’ve assemble about 50 photos from yesterday’s tour in this gallery. If you don’t really have the time or patience to poke through them, you can see the entire collection in this 2-1/2 minute video, complete with appropriate music (Steve Earle’s “Guitar Town”). But you have to click through the individual slides to read all my clever captions.