Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Form, Function and City Planning

I read an interesting piece in a local rag yesterday regarding Nashville Metro Council’s plans for future development of the downtown area. Urban planning is a very tangled web of competing concerns and I don’t really pretend to be equipped to offer any detailed critique. But since it involves two things I hold dear, design and my native city, I take an interest. The upshot of this article, which I find refreshing at least, is that aesthetic and pragmatic concerns appear to be receiving more equal weight than in bygone days. Of course, one matter leads to another and there is always a question of which aesthetic is being embraced, what its guiding principles are, etc. And of course, the pendulum can swing too far in either direction. But if folks are at least beginning to realize that function shouldn’t be allowed to browbeat form, as it has for so long now, we will not despise the day of small beginnings.

This article also reminded me of another fascinating one which the Nashville Scene ran several years ago regarding past proposals for re-making downtown Nashville which were (thankfully, for the most part) never realized. (At least none of them in full. Unfortunately the online version of this article is severely hamstrung by the fact that the accompanying architectural renderings from the original edition are left out. Perhaps I will scan some and post myself.)

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