Building Art

Fifth Avenue Lights: Nashville’s tallest residential tower, called 505, rises at the edge of Nashville’s downtown arts district.

This might be the nicest email I’ve ever received from a stranger about my photography. No, it definitely is.


Thank you for your gallery of the future 505 building located in the lobby of the Fifth/Third building downtown. Your gallery has answered some deep subconscious questions of mine as an employee for Jimmy John’s and as a photographer myself. Let me explain why.

As a Jimmy John’s delivery cyclist for the store in the Fifth/Third building, the construction of the 505 has been the bane of our existence. I exaggerate, but we are both artists and that’s just what we do. The reason though is the construction for that building has caused congestion, road closures, and all kinds of havoc for the intersection I have to ride through at least twenty times per work day. I’ve never worked a day at the job without that building being under construction and I had no idea it was just a parking lot just weeks before I started my employment. However, this has forced me to accept it, live with it, and watch the building grow like a child, almost. I watched the blasts that set the foundation, watched the scaffolding rise up, and layer by layer, floor by floor, the building started coming together. It became a spectacle for me every time I rode by it. Now, I can’t ride by without staring up at it, all (at least) 34 floors of it. Now I can see the building from outside the downtown area as it has become Nashville’s highest rising structure. Riding by the building from ground level gives me only one perspective, however, as I gaze up at the workers everyday I am left wondering what is happening at each of the 34 levels.

And that is how I tie this back into photography. One of the many reasons why I am a photographer is to get a unique visual perspective of places and things that we pass by in daily life. It is why I consider myself mostly a nature photographer because, coming from a small town in the West, there is a certain lure towards nature that pulls me closer than man-made infrastructure. However, after living in Nashville for the last three years that lure has pulled me towards infrastructure. In the recent weeks I have focused not only on nature photography that takes day long trips to capture, but in my own front yard in downtown Nashville and Belmont University where I attend school. This culmination of feelings and perspectives for me made me stop in my tracks last night as I was walking through the Fifth/Third lobby to take out the trash. I actually made excuses to take the trash out even more just to look at your gallery again. Your photographs of the workers up on the building rooftop, the high contrast, the straight and perpendicular lines of the rebar and scaffolding, the AT&T building being dwarfed by the perspective of the 34th floor, the texture of the photos with very punchy detail, and all of the other elements that I cannot put to words at this moment answered nearly all of my subconscious questions of what is happening up there as I ride by down below. I felt great comfort looking at your photos as they have given me new inspiration to look for new perspectives in composition and editing in post.

There is no purpose for this email. I just wanted to tell you, as a photographer to a photographer, that you were one of the reasons I had such a good day yesterday. Taking out the trash wasn’t just taking out the trash, it was a gallery experience. Thank you very much for doing what you did and I will be following your work to see what else will come.


Historic Reflections: Downtown Presbyterian Church and St. Cloud Corner reflected in the glass of the unfinished 505 residential tower rising at Fifth and Church streets, downtown Nashville.

Note: I have been photographing construction of the 505 residential tower for developer Tony Giarratana since the building was nothing more than a 70-foot-deep hole in the ground, for the purpose of creating a coffee-table book of art photography of the project that will be given to the initial residents. The 45-floor building will be the tallest residential building in Nashville and all of Tennessee. My photography is meant to capture both the beauty of the emerging building and the workers who are building it. The exhibit, arranged by The Arts Company, features 19 images from the forthcoming book and the artwork will be on display in the lobby of the Fifth Third Center through the end of March, and possibly a few days after that. The Fifth Third Center is located at the corner of Church and Fifth streets, downtown Nashville. It’s free, so if you work downtown stop by on your lunch break, or grab your morning coffee at the Starbucks in the lobby.