The New American Village

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The New American Village

Post by PrairieMod »

This is finally something more positive and worthwhile to discuss.

Wright's principles have made an impact on budding Gen Y architects who have helped develop a Gulf-coast community for displaced residents of Hurricane Katrina. This is Mr. Wright's legacy at work, continually inspiring the youth of this country. Read the article here: ... y_the.html

Any thoughts or reflections?

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

There is nothing new here. Attempts to build an agrarian Utopia go back to the middle of the 19th Century, to Garnier and Howard. Frighteningly, even Corbu tried his hand at building "for the people." Paolo Soleri has been working on his version for decades, and to what end? The forces that drive the creation of a successful community are not architectural, they're economic. A city can be successful, and still be as ugly as sin. Detroit of a hundred years ago comes to mind. No matter what ideas generate the creation of a city, eventually the market will look over the end result and place a value on it. If the residents find they can make a profit by selling their little bit o' Paradise, they will do it, and the Green City of Happiness will devolve into just another pricey suburb, like Reston, Virginia. It's a laudable goal, but not attainable.

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Post by allwrightythen1 »

Geez, pessimistic much? :wink:

I agree partially with your statesments, Mr. Grant--economic forces do drive all things in this world. But I'm not so cynical as to think that there is not a middle ground that can be reached in urban development that is both architecturally and economically sound.

It's too early to tell on the Lily Valley experiment, but so far I feel they are at least starting off on the right foot. To consider both the ecological impact of a development as well as the social and financial aspect of the buildings, all under the guiding light of Frank Lloyd Wright's principles of Architecture to me is something that has never been fully tried. There's been little experiments here and there (The tiny Usonian communes in New York and Michigan, etc) but nothing of this magnitude. In spirit (and hopefully execution) I think it's much different than the examples you mentioned.

Soleri's Arcosanti? It's a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream out in the middle of nowhere that doesn't consider either economics or architectural aestheic principles in any real sense (the buildings are souless and unattractive and the whole thing is being financed by bells and pottery.)

I wouldn't consider Detroit successful as a city on any level since it is neither attractive, nor economically doing so well. It's the opposite end of the spectrum from Howard's Garden City concept; both being extremes in a sense. An extreme idea of any kind rarely has any real longevity in this world. It's moderation and principle that transcend.

I didn't get the sense that Lily Valley is trying to be some "White City" on a hill. It seemed to me to be an attempt to apply principles to living and urban planning in a way that sets an example for what American city life could (and probably should) be like. Will it be successful? That remains to be seen, but I for one applaud the spirit to try anything in a positive and principled manner.

Hell, it's better than dumping a ton of FEMA trailers in the bayou!

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Post by DRN »

Though it's "nothing new", it is a good attempt at something new for Hattiesburg. I have visited the area on the way to visit relatives in Louisiana. The city is a college town, many jobs are related to the University and its support functions, and there is some sprawl along the commercial strips that lead out of town to the Interstate and along Rt 49. The site is a few miles outside of town near a large regional auto auction which has many low wage jobs. The area is for the most part surrounded by flat, sometimes wet, land covered with trees destined for papermills or studs.

The plan appears have the curved streets typical of a builder's development, but there is a network of them which could in time ease conjestion at the main entrance onto Rt 49. What this network if streets will connect to remains to be seen, as there is little in the area except commercial properties along Rt. 49 at this point. To be fair, Seaside and other Traditional Neighborhood Developments such as the Kentlands in Maryland, have been successful and have attracted other communites to build around them.

The key to the lower priced units will be the availability of low cost transportation from Lilly Valley to the jobs for the intended lower income buyers. I'm not sure if Hattiesburg has bus service to the area. The auction workers may be a source of low income buyers if they are paid a living wage.

The Commercial aspect seems a bit shaky from a marketing point of view as some of the building forms do not present to Rt 49 and would be entirely dependent upon traffic from within the development, which at 220 units, is too small to support much more than a convienience store.

But these are just planning particulars, James Polk is more than capable. Over all, I like that they are trying something other than the status quo in not just regional planning, but also with respect to energy consumption, and building technology. Though there is a lot of wood around that area it is not the best building material when one considers the moisture, the termites, and the potential for hurricanes. I say best of luck.

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