Page C1.1 . 19 September 2001                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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QUIZ

Seaside Turns 20

by Katharine Logan

Seaside, the little Florida coast town that spawned New Urbanism, is 20 years old this year. To celebrate its birthday, the town is organizing a series of events and sponsoring a competition to create a new Ceremonial Landmark.

Begun in 1981 by Robert and Daryl Davis, with architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, as a resort with a sense of community, Seaside became one of the most influential design paradigms of its era, garnering a clutch of awards, and appearing in many national publications.

"Seaside with its cozy, narrow streets and its jumble of pastel-colored homes is probably the most influential resort community since Versailles," said Newsweek.

Travel & Leisure wrote: "Seaside is, in its simplest sense, a beach front tract of about 80 acres (32-hectares), but it is much more complicated and far-reaching than that... something that has seized the attention of urban-planning theorists and brought them down to see for themselves. It has become the subject of seminars among municipal officials across the country, and it contains the seed of a land-development philosophy that could influence the way America lives in the 21st century."

A New American Town

Today the concept of a pedestrian-friendly, densely built community of wood-frame cottages with front porches and picket fences hardly seems avant-garde. Yet, at the time it was conceived, it represented a radical shift in thinking about urban planning and especially about developing waterfront property.

 

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ArchWeek Image

Odessa Street, in Seaside, Florida ends at the Odessa pavilion which opens to the sea.
Photo: Steven Brooke

ArchWeek Image

Aerial view of Seaside.
Photo: Alex S. MacLean

 

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