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Modernism and New Urbanism

A few notes from "Modernism and New Urbanism" presentation at CNU XIV, June 2006.

Four reasons for urban modernism (Ellen Dunham-Jones)

  1. Growing market for Modernism (www.dwellmag.com)
  2. Modernism can behave urbanistically
  3. Modernism is an optimistic expression of a better tomorrow
  4. A diversity of styles (i.e. including modernism) makes a place more "urban"

Cities are polycentric, they require multiple communities, multiple expressions, whereas villages can be a bit more homogeneous.

In Prospect, CO, (Kiki Wallace) modernism has been used as an expression of individual freedom.  Prospect has continued to thrive (albeit at a slow buildout rate) despite a collapse in the surrounding housing markets.

At Aqua, in Miami (Andres Duany), the varied modernist buildings ending up being quite unified, perhaps due to "value engineering" which led to a very limited palette of materials...doors, windows, etc., from a very short list of suppliers and products.

A big reason that New Urbanist towns have ended up being "classical" has to do with market desires of homebuilders and homebuyers.  At Seaside, for example, only the private dwellings were carefully coded.  Yet many of the public buildings still ended up following a very classical idiom.

Perhaps part of the reason New Urbanism has spent so much time focusing on classical/traditional architecture is because there is so much BAD classicism being  built by homebuilders. Once upon a time, the in-house credo at DPZ was "IF you're going to work in the classical idiom, you shall follow these rules..."


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