September 1, 2014

Florida Icon

Icon: Andres Duany

Architect, town planner, co-founder of New Urbanism; age 57

Cynthia Barnett | 10/1/2006
A lot of the environmental initiatives in this country do not have that sense of fun. They are very Calvinist. It's always about things going wrong. I always urge environmentalists to have a much better time of it.

The architecture schools are very closed-minded today.

Which is the best green community? Alys Beach. Which has the most vitality in architecture? Rosemary Beach. Rosemary has more spunk. Alys and Windsor have more quality. Kentlands is the most real, complete and walkable. The most comprehensive. The most like a real town. It also happens to have the lowest-quality architecture.

There's one in orlando by the name of South lake that has made a lot of terrible mistakes. They allowed an enormous Wal-Mart that just blew apart the center of the town. It's difficult to do things well in Orlando.

Wal-mart can be handled properly. I have a call in to Wal-Mart now. They are trying to do a much better job.

We live in a dutch South African house in Coral Gables. It was built in 1927, and we've lived there for 30 years. We also have an apartment in Miami Beach. So our vacation place is within driving distance. Coral Gables and Miami Beach are completely different. People who have vacation houses in France, or even Key West, strike me as rather mad.

A front porch is not a requisite of the New Urbanism. It's just that the press likes to get it down to some kind of bumpersticker slogan. If you look at our codes, there are eight ways that a building can meet the street.

We've written a model code called the Smart Code that can be downloaded for free. Florida is actually leading, and other places are catching up. Alabama is catching up. California may actually wake up to its sprawl problems.

Florida has the most New Urbanist communities, arguably the best communities and arguably the best firms. The reason for that is that Florida has done, for so long, such a bad job. The backlash is stronger here. When you look at the Winter Parks and the Coral Gables and the wonderful 1920s neighborhoods of Jacksonville and St. Petersburg, you realize that this place was intended to be superb.

The 1950s and 1960s were the lowest point in American architecture, and that's when Florida boomed. What a lot of Florida now has to do is retrofit.

Cities molt. Most of what you see will be demolished. New York is on fifth-generation construction. Florida is still on first-generation. What our codes are about are catching it on the next molting.

Tags: Florida Icon, Around Florida, Housing/Construction

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