May 8, 2021

Florida Icon

Icon: Andres Duany

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

Cynthia Barnett | 10/1/2006

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.

Tags: Florida Icon, Around Florida, Housing/Construction

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