Remnant of a Dream in Coral Gables, Florida
The following post comes courtesy of Global Site Plans' The Grid. CNU and Global Site Plans recently teamed up to syndicate Grid content, as its contingent of writers presents a view on the opportunities and issues of urbanization all across the world. CNU will carry select posts from the Grid direct on the CNU Salons.
Diversity is a key ingredient for a successful development, or at least that’s what George Merrick, Founding Father of Coral Gables, believed in 1925. Along with The American Building Company and former Ohio Governor Myers Cooper, he created the largest home development project in that time’s history: the Village Project. At the time, South Florida had no existing architectural heritage, so Merrick brought in the best architectural traditions from around the world and adapted them to the new climate. However, the devastating Hurricane of 1926, followed by the Great Depression halted this plan.
Only seven of the fourteen villages were actually developed, with less than eighty of the 1,000 residences built. These villages act as far more than a marketing scheme built to attract “northerners” to South Florida, but are valuable districts:
- Florida Pioneer / Colonial: With white picket fences, grand double-story porches, and highly-symmetrical facades, this village was influenced by the large houses of New England;
- Dutch South African Village: Comprising of only five residences, the whitewashed structures, ornately rounded gables, and jonkershuis adapt well with the surrounding Mediterranean Revival;
- Chinese Village: This colorful block of courtyards, yellow rooftops, and stone-carved pillar-gates (ques) is an exotic sight for visitors;
- French Normandy / Provincial Village: These attached residences showcase the Tudor decorative half-timbering, brick-base detailing, and minimal wooden enhancements;
- Italian Village: This spread-out village is characterized with low-pitched and heavily bracketed roofs, asymmetrical informal facades, and towers.
- French Country Village: One of the larger villages, these residences are large, detached structures, with high mansard roofs and rustic details;
- French City Village: Surrounded by garden walls, this block contains refined details of splayed lintels, quoining, and Palladian windows.
These villages were once regarded as failed attempts due to the city’s poor economic state, but are now regarded as the city’s most desirable areas. Are we still designing our communities in ways that build lasting value?
To read the original post, written by Jennifer Garcia, visit Global Site Plans.
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