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jcestes4

Thoughts on Duany, New Urbanism and the Coast

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jcestes4    0

I spent Thursday and Friday in Biloxi at a smart code conference conducted by none other than the DPZ Group and Placemakers. Duany was there and in fact the entire first day of the conference consisted of a Duany monologue on the virtues of new urbanism and the smart code and the evils of everything else.

Although Duany does have some good ideas, his arrogance is such a turn-off that I can't believe that folks have flocked to him like they have. He started Thursday off by telling everyone that even before Katrina the coastal cities were "horrible, ugly places". He then proceeded to whine about how nobody was listening to his ideas. I think he needs to read up on some Dale Carnegie before his next workshop.

The primary fault IMO with his approach to rebuilding the coast is that he has failed terribly to understand the true nature of the coastal culture. Coast folks are proud of their places, their culture and their heritage. They freely admit that it is not the "perfect" place but they tend to have a can do attitude that will bring them out on the other side of the catastrophe that is Katrina...and they will do it in their own way and in their own style (with or without Duany).

On a side note I thought it was hilarious to watch Duany pull up on Friday morning in a convertable Ford Mustang and park it across two other spots presumably so no one could park next to it. I could not get over the irony considering all of his talk about the evils and unfairness of the automobile. :rofl:

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tombarnes    0

I certainly agree that Mr. Duany's words were unkind and that his methods might suggest a touch of hypocrisy. I still believe, however, that much of what he proposes for the Coast is on target. The high-handed approach he has taken, however, may well prove to be his downfall. The complexities of rebuilding an entire region could prove to be too great for the neatly packaged niceties of New Urbanism. I hope he'll come down to Earth and play a part in the rebuilding.

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jcestes4    0

I certainly agree that Mr. Duany's words were unkind and that his methods might suggest a touch of hypocrisy. I still believe, however, that much of what he proposes for the Coast is on target. The high-handed approach he has taken, however, may well prove to be his downfall. The complexities of rebuilding an entire region could prove to be too great for the neatly packaged niceties of New Urbanism. I hope he'll come down to Earth and play a part in the rebuilding.

Were you there as well Tom?

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tombarnes    0

No, I'm in Washington, D.C.. I'm not even an architect or a planner, but I did graduate from L.S. U. in interior design. I quickly discovered that I wasn't so much interested in interiors as I had supposed. I'm actually in the hotel business now.

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Spartan    682

DPZ has consitently created quality communities, so their arrogance is warranted. They pretty much invented the term. I expect that Mississippi won't be disappointed with what they create. They are also trying to sell their ideas, so its natural to expect some strong bias towards what they are trying to do. But if you want to argue against the values of New Urbanism for the Gulf Coast, thats a different story altogether :)

I have heard that the people who live in Gulfport, etc, weren't being consulted with, so the fact that they had this talk is good news to me.

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jcestes4    0

DPZ has consitently created quality communities, so their arrogance is warranted. They pretty much invented the term. I expect that Mississippi won't be disappointed with what they create. They are also trying to sell their ideas, so its natural to expect some strong bias towards what they are trying to do. But if you want to argue against the values of New Urbanism for the Gulf Coast, thats a different story altogether :)

I have heard that the people who live in Gulfport, etc, weren't being consulted with, so the fact that they had this talk is good news to me.

I am not arguing for or against new urbanism for the coast. What I am arguing against is Duany insulting the very people that he is in turn asking to buy into his ideas. Success, no matter how great, does not warrant that level of arrogance.

Truth be told, there are plenty in Mississippi that have been touting the same principals long before Duany showed up. The coast would be well served to seek the guidance of those who have a better understanding of the culture and heritage that they are trying to rebuild and restore.

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DruidCity    0

Truth be told, there are plenty in Mississippi that have been touting the same principals long before Duany showed up.

I agree. Basically, these "outside experts" waltz in, and say "build more densely and upscale, and the result will be more wealth per acre," and are treated as some kind of "urban geniouses." For the most part, they're just stating the obvious.

It's like how so many praised Dr. Richard Florida as a "genious" for his "Creative Class" argument that cities that attract more "wealthy, educated" citizens tend to be more wealthy and educated. Well, duhhhh ...

The key to building/rebuilding comes down to the same thing it always does : money.

If the money flows in, then "quality development" will happen. If the money doesn't flow in, it won't.

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richyb83    960

Duany had some great ideas for the re-vitalization of Downtown Baton Rouge a few years back . Some have already been implemented, and some suceeded beyond expectations ; some never will happen or were not the best ideas . His 12-story height-limit suggestion was SILLY to me !

I look forward to the Mississippi Gulf Coast coming back strong !

My dad and his friend had their boat docked in Waveland for years.... it was stunning to see the damage ...but I hear there are big plans for Waveland/Bay St.Louis... Are both towns supposed to merge ?

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tombarnes    0

There is a great likelihood that Bay St. Louis and Waveland will merge, though the talks are moving ahead slowly rather than rapidly. As far as height limits are concerned, I doubt that such limits would be welcomed in Biloxi or Gulfport. Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Pass Christian and Ocean Springs may be another matter entirely. I think the people in those towns might be more receptive to the idea of limiting condo construction. Of course, the presence of Keesler Air Force Base creates de facto height limits in Biloxi already.

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Spartan    682

Interesting. What are their reasons for the merger?

I hope that regardless of what happens to the Mississippi coast, it is done in such a way that it doesn't look like a wall of the same towers like Myrtle Beach or Daytona.

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tombarnes    0

The reasons are mostly economic. Both towns were devastated by Katrina and must likely merge in order to make ends meet. Whether or not this will be a good thing remains to be seen. For a good idea of what is already replacing much of the coast (at least on the drawing boards), take a look at the link for Sterling Oaks in the Rebuilding thread. I'm not thrilled with the project's design, but it is inevitable that this sort of construction will take the place of much of what has been destroyed. In order to stop this from happening, the communities are going to have to take the reins and do something about it. I think the message may be getting through, but there is still so much misery on the Coast that many will take advantage of this sad fact.

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Spartan    682

The reasons are mostly economic. Both towns were devastated by Katrina and must likely merge in order to make ends meet. Whether or not this will be a good thing remains to be seen. For a good idea of what is already replacing much of the coast (at least on the drawing boards), take a look at the link for Sterling Oaks in the Rebuilding thread. I'm not thrilled with the project's design, but it is inevitable that this sort of construction will take the place of much of what has been destroyed. In order to stop this from happening, the communities are going to have to take the reins and do something about it. I think the message may be getting through, but there is still so much misery on the Coast that many will take advantage of this sad fact.

i have seen the Sterling Oaks proposal, and I cant say that I'm overly impressed with it. It looks nice, but thats about it. It doesn't connect to the beach very well.... but that could be because there will be casinos there once again.

One problem that Mississippi needs to address is its policy of floating casinos.

Biloxi-prekatrina.jpg

Biloxi-postkatrina.jpg

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Citydweller    0

The primary fault IMO with his approach to rebuilding the coast is that he has failed terribly to understand the true nature of the coastal culture. Coast folks are proud of their places, their culture and their heritage. They freely admit that it is not the "perfect" place but they tend to have a can do attitude that will bring them out on the other side of the catastrophe that is Katrina...and they will do it in their own way and in their own style (with or without Duany).

The following is an article about a charrette in Louisiana thast Duany led. He gets local culture. The Smart Code conference wasn't aimed for the public - but public officials - planners, code enforcement people. He needed to present the ideas forcefully. A charrette is where the ideas are modified for local conditions.

Envisioning a new future for Arabi

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lolis Eric Elie

Once it hit the rumor mill that the town of Erath was going to be moved, everyone focused.

If it gets around that Arabi is flirting with relocation, the people of St. Bernard Parish surely will crowd the parish courthouse Tuesday. But if all goes well, the folks of St. Bernard, like the people of Erath before them, will realize that nothing so drastic will take place without their input and approval.

A couple of weeks ago, the Louisiana Recovery Authority sponsored a charrette, or series of planning sessions, aimed at bringing together local residents and outside experts to envision the future of Erath and other sections of Vermilion Parish. This week the group is doing the same for Arabi.

"The idea of the charrette, the thing that makes it so successful, is there is a sense of urgency," said David Goldberg, the spokesman for Smart Growth America and a charrette organizer. "You have a short window, nine or 10 days, when you have some of the best planning and design minds in the country at your disposal."

Give-and-take over gumbo

Rebecca and Robert Young live in Abbeville. They hunt and fish avidly, so they are concerned about coastal erosion. Robert, an ophthalmologist, has an office downtown, so he was concerned about plans for the city's heart.

The couple attended the Vermilion Parish charrette.

"There was so much information," Rebecca Young said. "They spent a lot of time with local people. They ate the local gumbos. They went to church with us. They listened to what the people had to say."

These charrettes are being facilitated by Andres Duany, a renowned architect, planner and urban theorist.

"We propose, we listen, and we modify on 24-hour cycles," Duany said. "We may make a proposal that is very radical. We may get it wrong. We will go back and modify it. We'll get it less wrong. We modify it again until eventually we get it so that the people like it."

Transforming the town

The approach was a hit in Vermilion.

"The unique thing about Duany and his team is they taught us a lot about our own parish and our own towns," said John T. Landry, a Louisiana Recovery Authority member. "They came in with trained and empathic eyes.

"Delcambre is a shrimping community," Landry said. "His team suggested that we enhance the shrimp dock area by adding a recreational harbor.

"Their idea could really transform the town."

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jcestes4    0

It looks like I will get to see DPZ in action once again. I am heading to Miami this weekend to participate in a week-long charette with DPZ for a development that we are involved in on the Coast. This should be fun, our firm is actually participating in the Charette and sort of partnering with DPZ on the project. It should be a good opportunity to see their operation and experience how they work.

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jcestes4    0

Which community on the Coast? Perhaps you are not at liberty to divulge the location. Just wondering....

Sorry Tom, I am not able to provide more details at this point. I promise to as soon as I am able.

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tombarnes    0

Thought this would be the case. I hope the planning goes well. What do you think of the recent walkout by the planning team from California? Are their charges valid?

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jcestes4    0

Thought this would be the case. I hope the planning goes well. What do you think of the recent walkout by the planning team from California? Are their charges valid?

I seem to have missed that one, what happened? Do you have an info link?

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jcestes4    0

Thought this would be the case. I hope the planning goes well. What do you think of the recent walkout by the planning team from California? Are their charges valid?

I would say that to a certain extent the charges are valid. I have heard considerable discussion in the last few months that Biloxi was selling out to the condo/casino crowd and giving very little face time to well planned sustainable developments. That is not to say that some of what is being planned for Biloxi is not well planned...I think that on some levels it goes against the new urbanist grain.

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tombarnes    0

Gulfport may be taking another approach. Though Brent Warr is inexperienced in politics, it seems his heart is in the right place. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the redevelopment of the former Grand Casino there will be well done. The former Copa Casino was less than attractive. Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs also appear to be taking the tenets of New Urbanism seriously.

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Citydweller    0

We (the Governor's Commission team) will be holding a series of workshops in Bay St. Louis from 17-21 of April. There will be workshops on the Old Town, the Beach Boulevard, houisng, the arts community, schools, revitalizing US 90 with mixed use, adopting the SmartCode, and the new Community Hall, which I am designing. These workshops are more about collecting input than creating solutions. We hope to have a full week charrette in June.

The firm from California (Moule & Polyzoides) was entirely justified in resigning. Biloxi has decided its future is in street unfriendly high rise condos and casinos at the expense of vital lower income immigrant neighborhoods.

New Urbanism, contrary to its public reputation, is about supporting the local neighborhoods, and not about the rich.

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tombarnes    0

The Battle for Biloxi- New York Times

This was published in the New York Times Magazine yesterday. It appears that FEMA regulations played a big part in the dissolution of the New Urbanist plan in Biloxi. I found the comment in this article about "Ho-Condos", or hotel/condominium projects, especially telling.

New York Times- Magazine

Note: The paper requires registration to view the article. It is free, but you must first register with them.

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tombarnes    0

New Urbanism Receives A Warm Welcome in Ocean Springs

The New Urbanists may fare better in Ocean Springs than in Biloxi. Kohl, Dover and Partners had an enthusiastic reception last night in Ocean Springs. It would appear that these ideas may come to fruition.

WLOX Channel 13 News

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