Seaside town center to be transformed

After nearly a quarter century, Seaside, Florida, will finally get its tower. The tower may start construction as early as this fall, when a major transformation will begin in the town center. The architect of the tower is Leon Krier, who contributed important ideas, including the tower, to the original plan by Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. Opticos Design of Berkeley is working with Robert and Daryl Davis and Krier to integrate the tower and create a master plan for the area (see plan on page 6). Among the changes envisioned: • The informal marketplace on the south side of Rt. 30A will move to the other side of the road, in the Central Square. Temporary buildings will be replaced by more permanent structures. Allison Ramsey is the archictural firm designing the new market. • A canvas-covered loggia will encircle the square’s amphitheater, providing covered seating and a shaded boardwalk around the perimeter. This idea grew out of a competition entry submitted by Daniel Parolek for Seaside’s 20th anniversary in 2001. • A new plaza enclosed by mixed-use buildings will be built on the beach side of 30A, opening up the view from the town center to the beach, “which is something Leo [Krier] said we should do from day one,” says Seaside developer Robert Davis. • More cottages will be built along the beach, similar to the current honeymoon cottages. Other changes being planned for downtown Seaside include: • Four “gateway” buildings will be constructed. These will flank 30A on the west and east sides of the square. These buildings were part of the town’s original plan and are being designed by Eric Osth of Urban Design Associates. • A series of connected mixed-use buildings designed by Dan Solomon of WRT/Solomon E.T.C. will soon be under construction. This project will be built on adjacent lots that currently constitute a large gap in the northwest portion of the town center. It is the 100-foot Krier Tower (see image on this page) that will take center stage. The tower will occupy the site of a classical temple that serves as the town’s post office (a Seaside icon in its own right), which will move to a new location. The tower will feature an observation deck 75 feet high and will terminate the town’s three major axes, which emanate from the Central Square like spokes of a wheel. The tower is to be part of the first phase of construction of the town center plan. The hope is that it will be completed for Seaside’s 25th anniversary in 2006. After all of these projects are completed over the next several years, Seaside’s town center will be essentially built out. Davis is not certain how long these projects will take, except that construction will continue at least into 2008. “One thing that we have learned is that these things always take longer than we anticipate,” he says. Seaside Development Company will carry out some of the construction, particularly the civic improvements. Other developers will take on the remaining elements, such as the buildings designed by Solomon. continuity versus change Admirers of Seaside may be wary of some of the changes. Part of the charm of the place comes from temporary buildings that were built or moved into the town center on skids and were not part of the original plan. These buildings were necessary in the early years to incubate business and provide enclosure to civic areas. “I would definitely say that the imperfections and funkiness make Seaside far more real and less like the antiseptic experience most people have in their suburban lives,” Davis notes. “But we never felt that Seaside should be fixed in time, fond as we are of what we built in the 1980s when all we could afford was plywood construction.” These buildings were never meant to last. Perspicasity, an outdoor market, needs constant rebuilding just to remain standing. “There is probably not a single piece of plywood that is original,” Davis jokes. The days of plywood in the town center are definitely numbered. In the first phase, Perspicasity will be moved into more permanent masonry and wood-frame buildings. The buildings will open completely up into a canvas-covered courtyard that will retain an informal character. “We’re making sure that enough of what people think of as Seaside will be retained,” says Dan Parolek, principal of Opticos Design. “That includes Perspicasity, (the restaurant) Bud & Alley’s, and other shops that have been there since day one.” Furthermore, Parolek says, the plan retains the same complexity and scale that one finds in the town now. “The fine grain pattern is on of the primary characteristics that differentiates Seaside from other projects,” Parolek says. “We’re trying to avoid creating a continuous and solid wall along 30A [the highway that runs through Seaside], but at the same time provide more functional spaces.” The first major construction expected to get underway this year will be Solomon’s mixed-use buildings (see rendering above). These will retain the four-story scale of most of the buildings currently encircling the Central Square but will have only three stories because the first floor retail space is 20 feet high: above will be two floors of residential condominiums. The buildings will be arcaded and will feature arched passageways between the retail spaces: the second and third floors will be fully connected. A dramatic 20-foot-wide arch at the center of the buildings will focus on a view of the post office, which is exactly 20 feet wide, at its new location after it is moved to make way for the tower. Also underway this fall will be construction of the canvas-covered loggia around the amphitheater, which is a large green space requiring a degree of enclosure. A visual connection across the green is important both for the viability of retail and for maintaining openness and a sense of connection throughout the Central Square. “The structure is light enough to offer transparency and solid enough to create a nice rhythm and edge to the space,” says Parolek. The loggia also will offer pedestrians and concert attendees relief from the hot Florida sun. The beachside plaza will constitute a major new public space. There is currently no view of the Gulf from ground level at Seaside. Once the plaza is built, pedestrians will get a glimpse of the water at the horizon, because dunes are relatively low at that point. On two sides of the plaza will be retail buildings; the Krier Tower will stand at the end opposite from the water. Much of the work, especially the grading and pile driving, will take place in the off-season, which for Seaside is late fall and early winter, Davis says. “One hopes that it will be a big improvement for all of the merchants, but it will create a short-term discomfort.” As to the residents, “I don’t feel that we need to tell them that we are changing our minds and doing something different,” Davis explains. “We are simply detailing out plans that we have been working on for 20-plus years.” u
×
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Dolores ipsam aliquid recusandae quod quaerat repellendus numquam obcaecati labore iste praesentium.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Dolores ipsam aliquid recusandae quod quaerat repellendus numquam obcaecati labore iste praesentium.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Dolores ipsam aliquid recusandae quod quaerat repellendus numquam obcaecati labore iste praesentium.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Dolores ipsam aliquid recusandae quod quaerat repellendus numquam obcaecati labore iste praesentium.