January 31st, 2011

#SeasideAt30 Inspired Me

This weekend a of group people passionate about New Urbanism convened upon Seaside, FL to discuss the future of New Urbanism. In addition, it was a time to reflect on 30 years of Seaside. Many of the New Urbanism founders were in attendance: Robert Davis, Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Peter Katz, and several others.

I was not able to attend the event, but I did have the opportunity to visit Seaside in 2005. On our visit we stayed in a house with two other couples, and it was an amazing place. We were actually there with a larger group, and together we explored every square foot of town. We only ventured to the shoreline once because the town is truly captivating.

Thanks to the forward-thinking and social media savvy mind of Steve Mouzon, I was able to experience the Seaside at 30 event as he did a tweetcast for the rest of us. What’s a tweetcast? Steve and several others would tweet comments from the event throughout the day with a Twitter hashtag – #SeasideAt30. As a result, you can easily search over on Twitter using the #SeasideAt30 hashtag to view everyone’s tweets on the topic.

The tweetcast really got me thinking about my visit to Seaside and how it inspired me to continue promoting New Urbanism as much as I can. There were so many good tweets from the day that I created a “Top 5″ list of my favorite. So here’s my top five tweets from the #SeasideAt30 tweetcast.

Tie: 1. Robert Davis sold his first Seaside lot to buy food -Andrés Duany,#SeasideAt30

Reason: That’s how all this NU stuff started? Feels very practical to me.

Tie: 1. Architects have largely divorced themselves from practice and craft -Hank Dittmar #SeasideAt30

Reason: The massive lack of vision and courage among most architects is an epidemic and the reason they are becoming less relevant to our society.

2. Never discuss of a name change again. New York has never considered changing it’s name. -Lizz Plater-Zyberk #SeasideAt30

Reason: Well said, and a later tweet talked about “new” being accepting of change.

3. Brick streets in seaside because you could buy 200 feet of bricks. The asphalt guys don’t get out of bed for that. -Duany #seasideat30

Reason: Humor and true.

4. now I realize that while Celebration is a better place to walk your dog, it hasn’t changed the region at all -Peter Katz, #SeasideAt30

Reason: I respectfully disagree big time with Peter Katz on this one, but it’s probably a strong enough statement to make people think about regional impact. I feel that without Celebration we wouldn’t have Baldwin Park in Orlando. In addition, Baldwin Park and Celebration are part of the region’s DNA and the metro area government talks about it and references New Urbanism as a result. Celebration and Baldwin Park are impacting the region, just not as fast or with the results we would like.

5. My wife spent years in medical school, she has years of medical training. She is our kids over educated chauffeur. #seasideat30 ~Rick Geller

Reason: A very accurate picture of life in suburbia. It’s a shame. As a country we have so much knowledge, but our built environment is holding us back. In addition, Rick Geller is a fine addition to the NU cause.

Download the PDF to see our suggestions to tweak the future Lakeside Village Center (CR 535 and Reams Road, Windermere, FL).

Lakeside Village Tweaks

Seaside Style Book Cover

This is a book review that I wrote for New Urban Living Magazine. The review was originally published in the September/October 2004 issue.

Despite the title, Seaside Style, by Eleanor Lynn Nesmith, is not only about an architectural style or interior decorative theme, it offers more than that. It also depicts a lifestyle – a lifestyle of living comfortably and satisfyingly along the Gulf Coast and enjoying what coastal life has to offer. It begins with a description of this lifestyle and Seaside’s physical locality that is so strong the reader can almost see, hear, and feel the sights, sounds, and salty breezes off the Gulf. The Introduction also includes a brief but detailed account of Seaside’s early stages and the development of its set of guidelines and codes which are based on engaging and complimenting the landscape rather than simply building on it. [...]

Great Good Place Book Cover

This is a book review that I wrote for New Urban Living Magazine. The review was originally published in the November/December 2005 issue.

Despite its title, The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg is much more than a description of local hangouts.  It’s a detailed analysis and endorsement for, what he calls, third places.  According to Oldenburg, the number of these great good places has been declining since World War II, and the effect of their loss has been harmful to our well-being.  The effects of this loss reach far beyond the individual to families, communities, and cities.

Third places, those ‘great good places’, are the “core settings of informal public life.”  Third place is the generic name given to a number of places “that host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work”. [...]

City Comforts Book Cover

This is a book review that I wrote for New Urban Living Magazine. The review was originally published in the March/April 2005 issue.

In David Sucher’s book, City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village, he admits that he started this book with no outline. It merely evolved from photographs that he took while ‘observing’ cities. The photographs are of things that seem to “work” well in bringing people together and fostering the type of environment that encourages the chance encounter. His book is composed of and about these photographs. The result is a useful, well-organized and easy to use manual full of working solutions for several could-be problem areas in the modern American city and ways to give these areas more potential. These are solutions for creating, what Sucher calls, an urban village, and this is what the author feels most people really desire in their surroundings but are largely lacking in them. [...]

Sidewalks in the Kingdom Book Cover

This is a book review that I wrote for New Urban Living Magazine. The review was originally published in the January/February 2005 issue.

Through his recent book, Sidewalks in the Kingdom:  New Urbanism and the Christian Faith, Eric Jacobsen introduces the New Urbanism movement to members of the Christian faith.  Through logical and concise arguments, he succeeds at explaining the precise connections between the movement and the faith.  By doing so, he is attempting to establish a renewed interest in restoring existing urban centers and slowing sprawl.  He is certain that Christians will begin to consider the city, as less of a problem or a ministry need, but as a better way of life.  He is also confident that they will realize that by choosing a more urban lifestyle, they are choosing the unique and wonderful opportunity to minister through everyday moments just as Jesus did.  On the other hand, by choosing to encourage and perpetuate the suburban model, they may be, according to Jacobsen, “worshiping false gods in the name of American values.” (p21) and removing themselves from important interactions and ministering opportunities. [...]

One of my favorite projects while working at Geoffrey Mouen Architects was at Baldwin Park. Being completely transparent, I googled myself (I know it’s horrible. Right?) and found the link below which includes a picture of the Enders Park building.

Navy Base to Neighborhood: http://issuu.com/newbroadstreet/docs/nb2n

Not only is this a well produced publication, but Geoffrey and I get a shout out on the first page. Granted the list of organizations and people they acknowledge is long. Baldwin Park is a near magical implementation of New Urban principles that I’m glad to have even the slightest of role.