Friday, October 30, 2009

Quote of the Day: Andres Duany

“When I originally thought of New Orleans, I was conditioned by the press to think of it as an extremely ill-governed city, full of ill-educated people, with a great deal of crime, a great deal of dirt, a great deal of poverty. And when I arrived, I did indeed find it to be all those things. Then one day I was walking down the street and I had this kind of brain thing, and I thought I was in Cuba. Weird! And then I realized at that moment that New Orleans was not an American city, it was a Caribbean city. Once you recalibrate, it becomes the best-governed, cleanest, most efficient, and best-educated city in the Caribbean. New Orleans is actually the Geneva of the Caribbean.”
That's Cuba-born architect Andres Duany, talking to Wayne Curtis in this month's Atlantic Monthly. The article, "Houses of the Future," gives a tour of the new affordable, compact, and high-tech homes of post-Katrina New Orleans -- starting with some built by Brad Pitt's charity.

Duany is not like the other architects who are working on homes in New Orleans. “The high design? That has nothing to do with reality,” he scoffs. “That’s just architectural self-indulgence.”

And not many of the people who have brought their expertise and money to the city know what they're doing, Duany argues:
“All the do-goody people attempting to preserve the culture are the same do-gooders who are raising the standards for the building of houses, and are the same do-gooders who are giving people partial mortgages and putting them in debt. They have such a profound misunderstanding of the culture of the Caribbean that they’re destroying it. The heart of the tragedy is that New Orleans is not being measured by Caribbean standards. It’s being measured by Minnesota standards.”
Duany is one half of Duany Plater-Zyberk, a Miami-based firm. Duany and his partner, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, are among the co-founders of Congress for the New Urbanism.

Duany Plater-Zyberk is most famous for designing the town of Seaside, Florida, a New Urbanist development that started in 1979. The resort town, which has narrow streets and cozy houses with porches, was featured in the 1998 movie, The Truman Show.

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