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American Art

Florida panhandle, American architecture, clear focus, landscape design, warm climate

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A small vacation community called Seaside, on the coast of the Florida panhandle between Pensacola and Panama City, demonstrated clearly what a new kind of town planning could offer. The husband-and-wife architectural team of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk laid out the basic plan of Seaside in the late 1970s. They designed the town to serve as a model of what larger communities could be, with a clear focus on a town center, an emphasis on landscape design, and requirements that buildings be kept low and in scale with the town as a whole. Special emphasis was placed on enabling residents to walk about the town so that they did not have to rely on automobiles. Individual houses and other buildings of Seaside reflected simple local building types adapted to the warm climate and thus not sealed and completely reliant on air conditioning. The architects wanted Seaside residents to be connected with one another and with the natural environment, rather than at the mercy of their machines. Duany and Plater-Zyberk thereafter drew up plans for a number of residential communities following these principles, and other architects and planners followed similar principles in a number of new communities around the United States.

American architecture at the beginning of the 21st century has avoided the single-style sterility that International Style modernism threatened to impose. Instead it remains open to a myriad of design approaches, suitable to a wide variety of locations, functions, and symbolic messages.


Davidson, Abraham A., A.B., A.M., Ph.D.

Professor of Art History, Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Author of "Early American Modernist Painting, 1910-1935, Ralph Albert Blakelock".

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Florida panhandle, American architecture, clear focus, landscape design, warm climate, Panama City, Pensacola, town center, natural environment, mercy, automobiles, planners, architects, air conditioning, coast, United States, scale, century, beginning, husband, machines, functions, requirements, model

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