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Before he died, Walt Disney proposed the idea for an “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” or “EPCOT,” in which technology would seamlessly mix with day-to-day life. He never saw that idea put into effect, but in the early 1990’s, Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner decided to expand the Company into real estate and create a village meant to incorporate some of the themes of the EPCOT project. Built along the edge of Walt Disney World, Celebration is a 10.7 square mile census-designated place and master-planned community.
Eisner had been influenced by the work of DPZ CoDESIGN in Seaside, and early on decided he wanted to use the principles of New Urbanism to guide the town’s development. The master plan for Celebration was a collaborative effort between Cooper, Robertson & Partners and Robert A.M. Stern, and ground was broken in 1994. The firm then known as EDAW was brought in to design the town’s landscape architecture and filled Celebration with ample parks and green space.A main street in Celebration.
This town was planned meticulously down to its manhole covers and street signs, which all bear the Celebration logo designed by the graphic design company Pentagram. Every building was designed with its own style, and famed architects like Robert Venturi and César Pelli were brought in to design buildings as simple as the bank and post office. It is a highly walkable community, which provides residents with access to a golf course, pool, and downtown filled with shops and restaurants. With 7,400 residents as of the 2010 census, Celebration is an active town that attracts people with its emphasis on the traditional principles of town planning.
Celebration is subdivided into eight villages, each of them uniquely planned out, with a wide variety of educational opportunities. Celebration holds two K-8 schools, a high school, and Stetson University even has a Celebration Campus, all of which are easily accessible by walking. More than 500 companies are located in the town, as are six Christian churches and one Jewish congregation.
For its centralized planning and its contribution to the revitalization of city planning, Celebration was named “New Community of the Year” in 2001 by the Urban Land Institute.
Photo above: Celebration viewed from the water.
Hunters View #thisisCNU
San Francisco, California
By any measure, San Francisco ranks among the world’s most beautiful cities. Yet for years, in a sector that tourists never see, 50 barracks-style buildings constructed in 1943 housed 264 families in poverty and fear.
After decades of abandonment, downtown Rockford is finally coming back. Rockford, a mid-sized city in north-central Illinois about 90 miles northwest of Chicago, is not unlike many other Midwest cities its size.
Martin Luther King Plaza #thisisCNU
The Hawthorne neighborhood in Philadelphia has come back to life—catalyzed by Martin Luther King Plaza, the redevelopment of a former high-rise public housing project.