Friday, February 13, 2009

Seaside, age, and Kunstler …

Seaside    Whenever I show my students pictures of Seaside –- the famous New Urbanist community in the Florida panhandle –- I invariably get titters and comments from students that it looks “creepy.”  Why is this?  Is it because they remember it from the movie “The Truman Show,” in which it was the too-perfect community that was actually a giant TV set for a reality show about the hoodwinked Truman?  Or it is because we are not used to seeing architecture and design of the old school – that it, design that holds detail, that is built on the human scale, and that gives limited compromises to the 20th century –- without the patina of age or decrepitude?
   Yesterday, scourge-of-sprawl James Howard Kunstler discussed his idea that age will only make better places such as Seaside, which rejects automobile domination, embraces density, and attempts the close-knit feel of a 19th century small town, only in the form of a popular place on the Florida Gulf.  In the near future, we might not even be able to criticize Seaside as being too expensive (I’ve never quite understood the criticism that it’s a bad thing that good design makes small cottages in Seaside so expensive that middle-class people can’t afford them).  I think ... and I don’t often say this about Kunstler without hesitation … that he’s right …

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Your students giggle at Seaside because at some gut level, they realize it is fake. You can't throw up a subdivision and expect that overnight it will become a community. That's something that takes time and commitment.

By the way, Andres Duany is no Frank Lloyd Wright.

Posted by: James Lawlor | Feb 15, 2009 10:03:18 PM