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Tag Archives: Seaside
I’ve heard Seaside, Florida, lauded as the first great project of the New Urbanism. I’ve also heard it ridiculed as new-faux urbanism. So what’s the truth, at least as I see it? Well, during the scant few hours I recently spent there I saw a lot to like. Dozens of wonderful pathways for bikes and pedestrians that connect everywhere to everywhere, many of which feel like something to discover instead of simply travel. Residential roads eschewing sidewalks in favor of shared space. Relatively tall buildings on relatively narrow lots. Architecture with integrity. Loads of trees and shady places (critical given the town’s latitude). Seaside feels like it was designed by people who care.
To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of New Urbanism or Seaside until I moved to Florida in 2008. The sunshine state is gaga for New Urbanism, and while any planning discussion walks a tightrope of divisiveness DPZ’s landmark resort was nearly universally praised by those I spoke with. Sure, its utopian urban design made it an easy visual joke as the shooting location of The Truman Show. And, no, it was never intended to be anything more than a wealthy resort town. But I kept hearing how wonderful the experience of actually being there was, and after two years of this finally got to spend a few hours last week exploring it myself.
Yep, I’m back.
First off, thank you to the thousands of readers who continued to visit the Planologie Blog despite nary a new post in over a month. I expected my modest readership to dry up completely, and am quite pleased to be proven wrong.
Secondly, I’m changing things up a bit. Sea changes in my life have sent me on a bit of a walkabout, with my next couple of years to be spent studying Urban Studies in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Madrid, among other European locales. First, though, I’m in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Boston for a month apiece. I’m going to spend less time researching articles to repost, more time exploring, observing, and documenting my travels. Posts will no longer be daily; two or three per week is my new target, and it might take a bit before I’m back to even that. The viewpoint will remain, of course, focused on urban planning-related issues.
Again, thank you everyone for sticking with me. Hopefully the best is yet to come.
The New Orleans that was swept away when the levees broke cannot be restored. A new New Orleans is rising—it cannot be otherwise. Isn’t it possible that in this new New Orleans there is room for Frank Gehry and Andres Duany? For the experimental and the traditional? For the future and the past? Can’t this new New Orleans be a city that retells the stories of its forebears while crafting new tales of its own? It has been a long time since New Orleans had anything new to add to the larger discussion of American urbanism. A long time since the national spotlight shone on it for reasons other than crime, poverty, catastrophe, or the musical achievements of the past.
History should never be forgotten, but neither should it be made into a golden calf. Cities need to breathe, they need to periodically remake themselves. As long as the people remaking New Orleans remain in service to the city’s most vulnerable residents, New Orleans wins. Architects win. Design wins. Creativity wins. Experimentation wins. A new vernacular arises alongside the old. Continue reading
Hawkins Court calls to mind Dutch woonerven, which allow autos to travel at foot speed through pedestrian space, as well as the (also Dutch) principle of “shared space,” in which all road users are given equal status and lines, signs, and signals are removed, is more applicable. Despite being only three blocks from Main Street, Hawkins Court manages to conjure something of the idyllic neighborhood vibe associated with the early days of suburbia and Small Town, USA.