Page N3.2 . 21 February 2007                     
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  • AIA Honor Awards 2007
  • Challenging Urbanism
  • Prize in Classical Architecture

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    Prize in Classical Architecture


    Nearby, Robertson also designed a crescent of four Georgian houses to set a standard for the rest of the development. Collectively, these buildings give the occupants reminders of the formality and opulence of another time and place.

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    WaterColor by the Sea

    WaterColor (2000), in Walton County, Florida, adjacent to the better known new-urbanist village of Seaside, is a mixed-use community on the Gulf of Mexico.

    Roberston oversaw the design of 16 residential, civic, and club buildings that define the town center and dozens of cottages that established the community's architectural character. These structures reflect a combination of Spanish, English, Dutch, and French Colonial influences adapted to accommodate parking and other contemporary needs.

    Response to climate can be found in features such as arcaded masonry bases, screened and shuttered porches, generous roof overhangs, and rooftop elements that vent attic spaces and bring daylight into the upper floors. In the southern tradition, the town features water courses, fountains, small ponds, relating to the site's natural setting.

    Two intersecting axes outline the city's master plan: a southwest/ northeast "water axis" connects the gulf, the town center, the village green, the lake, and a neighborhood park on the site's highest point of land. A "land axis" follows the community's main road through the outlying residential neighborhoods toward the east, where there are additional commercial facilities, a fire station, and a final residential precinct.

    Trails meander around the lake and through residential areas providing access points to the lake via piers and pavilions. Each neighborhood has a central park with recreational or institutional buildings at its center and all the buildings are color-coded according to their location. A pattern book sets out design guidelines for single family houses.

    20th-Century Palladian Villas

    Robertson's classical approach to architecture is also found in private villas, although their size probably exceeds anything Andrea Palladio himself may have imagined. One of these, in Southampton, New York, was completed in 1990. Set in a low grassland, the house was required to be set five feet (1.5 meters) above grade — a requirement the architect used to advantage to design a classical plinth.

    The 10,000-square-foot (930-square-meter) house has a Palladian plan organized around a long axis that passes through the house connecting it to a pool pavilion at one end and a garage and staff apartment at the other. The main space of the house is a 25-foot- (7.6-meter-) high living room with fireplaces at each end. Two-story blocks flank this high room.

    Two years later, Robertson completed the much larger "Westerly," in the Dominican Republic. This 35,000-square-foot (3250-square-meter) villa draws on a variety of Palladian and Anglo-Caribbean precedents. It is built of coral stone with simple, rustic detailing.

    Westerly's site is organized around a long axis that runs from the entrance gates across an arrival court and directly through the house, its gardens, and swimming terrace to the bay beyond. An entry hall, eight bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen, and interspersed open courtyards are arranged in an arcaded crescent that radiates around a freestanding great room with portico. This displacement of the central block from the crescent into a densely planted garden, a clear departure from Palladio's practice, is made to distance the sleeping areas from those of high activity.

    New Towns, Old Looks

    Cooper, Robertson was commissioned to work on two "towns" by The Disney Company. One of these is Val d'Europe, in Marne-la-Vallée, France. The transit-oriented development was required by the French government as part of the Disney theme park east of Paris. Robertson prepared the master plan for this 290-acre (120-hectare) mixed-use community. He drew on ideas from traditional French town planning and landscape design, with a framework of boulevards, streets, and large and small squares and parks.

    The retail center at the center of town is entered at each end via traditional squares and wrapped by three-story buildings and a tree-lined boulevard. The main square, Place d'Ariane, includes transit stations, a performing arts facility, library, hotel, apartments, offices, shops, and restaurants. Cooper, Robertson prepared design guidelines for the massing, density, and character of the town square, residential neighborhoods, and the streetscape.

    Also for Disney, Robertson and his firm worked with Robert A. M. Stern Architects on the master plan for the 5,000-acre (2,000-hectare) town of Celebration, Florida completed in 1997. Because much of the site is wetlands and protected habitat, the town's layout was treated as an archipelago of connected islands with a "sea of trees" to the south. The plan was organized around the existing patterns of open fields, cypress heads, mature trees, and natural drainage ways, all of which give an air of permanence to new streets, buildings, and open spaces.

    The town's architecture draws on traditional ideas of small American towns, adapted to meet contemporary needs. Houses have wide front porches and shared alleys to encourage over-the-fence conversations. An old-fashioned-looking downtown features apartments over shops and a cluster of civic and commercial buildings. In addition to working on the master plan, Robertson's firm designed a dozen buildings in the town center.

    Robertson has received numerous design awards, including the 1998 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture and the 2002 Seaside Prize for his contributions to American urbanism. He will receive the Driehaus Prize during ceremonies in Chicago on March 31, 2007.

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    ArchWeek Image

    WaterColor, Walton County, Florida, designed by Jaquelin Robertson, recipient of the 2007 Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture.
    Photo: The St. Joe Company/ Jack Gardner

    ArchWeek Image

    WaterColor town center.
    Photo: Paul Milana

    ArchWeek Image

    House in Southampton, New York.
    Photo: Elle Decoration (France)/ photo by Marianne Haas

    ArchWeek Image

    Villa in the Dominican Republic.
    Photo: Smith Aerial Photography

    ArchWeek Image

    Marne-la-Vallée, France.
    Photo: TIBO

    ArchWeek Image

    Celebration, Florida.
    Photo: Smith Aerial Photography


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