Friday, May 22, 2009

Convention Center: A Lot Less Green Than it Used to Look

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2009 at 6:19 AM

So the Music City Center. Have we talked about this before? Can't remember. Anyway, if you're at all familiar with the proposed billion dollar convention center (and maybe even if you aren't), you might remember the mock-ups meant to stoke Nashville's collective interest.
click to enlarge music_20city_20center.jpg
Stunning, isn't it? Notice that the way the roof undulates. Tuck, Hinton Architects included that feature to be reminiscent of the rolling hills of Tennessee (a not-ineffectual pander to regionalism). Notice also that those hills are green. As hills tend to be. That's real grass. Part of a green roof that was supposed to make the Music City Center sustainable, and therefore irresistible to Mother Earth-loving, fence-sitting progressives who might otherwise vote against it (here's a hint: it worked). OK. So now that you've taken notice of all the greenery, take a look at the picture that's currently up on Music City Center's website...
click to enlarge music_20city_20center_20wo_20the_20green.jpg
WTF HAPPENED TO ALL THAT GRASS?! Pith e-mailed that same question (more or less) to MDHA head Phil Ryan, who then got Stephen Tuck of Tuck, Hinton to call us back. Tuck's response: The green roof is "still a priority, but there are lots of ways to get to sustainability." He then suggested that the green roof might become a value engineering item. In other words, if the price gets too high, the green roof is just some expensive shit we're going to have to do without. Which I guess is OK if the foundations behind the idea are solid to begin with. But as we've harped on time and time again, that just ain't the case with the Music City Center. So now, not only do we have a really expensive thing that's not in Nashville's best interest to build, but we also have to build it without one of the few cool features that would have tagged it as our ugly big box, rather than Detroit's or Walla Walla's. So the city is finding it harder to sell bonds in this climate. And they need to reduce cost. Again, I understand that. But it's doubly insulting when you add some little cowardly misleading type to the official website just to cover your tracks. Witness the design page's explanation: "The early design (emphasis ours) features a green roof, beautiful views of the Nashville skyline from inside the center, lots of natural light and flexible exhibit and meeting space." Look, we don't have a screenshot available that definitely says the early design wasn't there before they pulled this old switcharoo. But outside of MDHA employees and Mayor Dean, we're pretty sure no one has spent more time on the Music City's site than us (and yes, that's sad, and yes, we do need a hobby). And that's why I feel confident in saying, the early design wasn't there earlier. It's just been put up recently as a way of saying, "Oh yeah, that's the way we originally drew it up. But now that we've reconvened, we decided grass, Mother Earth's goddamn follicles, just weren't an appropriate thing to put on top of a building that'd be radiating the sun's heat all day." Not that we're upset about this or anything...

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