Updated 11 months ago
I'm from Santiago (Cuba). My family has been in that city since 1702. I'm the first male in my family not to live there.
I feel at home in the Caribbean, which is one of the reasons I find New Orleans so interesting. I began to understand and fully sympathize with its so-called flaws when I realized I was looking at a Caribbean city and not an American city.
When Andrew came through here, we didn't need to count on FEMA for anything. We got help from the Army and the National Guard, but FEMA was not on the horizon. Now, FEMA is Lord of Creation, and it holds everything up. FEMA has been very exasperating.
Andrés Duany? [Photo: Brian Smith]
You want to keep things affordable? Do a lousy job. Whenever you do a good job in an open market, it will bid up. What happens in places like Celebration and Seaside is excellence combined with scarcity. Mississippi and Louisiana will not have scarcity.
The New Urbanism has been a spectacular success in affordable housing because we wrote the standards for Hope 6, the HUD program that has built hundreds of thousands of units. When people say 'you don't do affordable housing,' I say, 'excuse me, we've been responsible for all of the affordable housing built in this country in the past 10 or 15 years.'
I like to get angry. I don't see the advantage of not getting emotionally involved. To me that's totally alien.
When we don't get attacked, I often attack them in order to get a rise out of them. I have a collection of e-mails that I've sent out attacking people. I have six 2-inch binders full of them. It's always about keeping the discussion going.
The secret is that we (Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Duany's wife, business partner and dean at the University of Miami School of Architecture) never work on the same project. So while we give each other advice, there's never any question as to who makes the decision. At home, I do the interior, and she does the garden.
Saul Alinsky, who wrote "Rules for Radicals," basically said if the revolution isn't fun, no one will come to the second meeting. A lot of the New Urbanism -- the meetings, the congresses -- retains that ethos of fun.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.