Nashville's New Flavor
Earlier this year I rode around Nashville with a local architect named Nick Dryden. Nick drove me through up-and-coming neighborhoods, and he kept saying a phrase unfamiliar to me: "place making." Design that aims to serve both a community's needs and its aspirations. Nick's brand of place making dovetails a love of urban anthropology and cultural salvaging—a blend that hits this city's signature chord: reinvention driven by heritage. Evidence of the trend rises up all over town. Like at Imogene + Willie, where blue jean designers work out of the old Granny White Service Station. Where did this veneration for the past start? What's its taproot? Possibly cliché, I think it is country music. Where else is lineage more revered? Who holds the respect-your-elder code higher? Think of Nashville's "Mother Church," Ryman Auditorium, bricked to life in 1892 by Thomas Ryman, a born-again riverboat captain, as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. He intended it as a sanctuary for wayward journeymen of the Cumberland. Surely he never imagined the thousands of Opry nights or Mumford and Sons sellouts. But the place is still in the business of awe and wonder. Which keeps in step with the "new" Nashville, a city full of folks like Nick, rediscovering and reinventing Tennessee's capital every single day.
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