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Celebration

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
The best pictures in this post were taken by Dan, and can be found in the Cyburbia Gallery:

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=998&stype=1&si=celebration


CELEBRATION


It’s time for Celebration. But before we get to it, let’s play a little game of Guess the City.

Aah…Florida:



Wait a minute! That isn’t Florida; that’s obviously Alexandria, Virginia.




This is Seattle or Portland.




Savannah, Georgia, for sure.




Don’t know where in Europe this one is: maybe Belgium, maybe the Po Valley? If it were France, the trees would be cropped and closer together.




Just to the northwest of the Arc de Triomphe lies the leafy urban suburb of Neuilly.




Aha! Obviously this is one of those buildings on the outskirts of Modena where rich playboys pretend to be car manufacturers. Just as obviously, the architect was Aldo Rossi.




Is this a secluded cove in an Adriatic resort of Croatia, or maybe Slovenia?




This one is a no-brainer. That is obviously Charleston.




Just as obviously, this is Maine. A new development; there are still stickers on the windows. New England retro.




This must be the nautically-themed hotel down on the harbor at Annapolis.


No? Drat! Wrong again: they’re all in the same place:

 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
CELEBRATION, FLORIDA!! …by Disney!!!




The following description is from this website:

http://celebration.nm1.net/#WHAT

WHAT IS CELEBRATION??......


It is the first planned community developed by The Walt Disney Company. While EPCOT Center was originally planned as an "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow", we all know that financial as well as other considerations dictated that the dream of Walt Disney be changed from a city to a new gated attraction.

Celebration will be a true planned community including a downtown, health center, school, post office, town hall, golf course, single family homes, townhouses and apartments. Disney used the services of top-name architects in developing the plans for Celebration. The master plan architects were Cooper, Robertson & Partners and Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

FACTS ABOUT CELEBRATION
· Opening of Phase One:
-July 4th, 1996
· Size:
-4,900 acres, surrounded by a protected greenbelt of 4,700 acres
· Population:
-20,000 people in 8,000 housing units
· Government:
-Unincorporated town within Osceola County
-Two Community Development Districts will provide funding for the infrastructure of Celebration
-Two community associations will manage the neighborhoods
-The Walt Disney Company will own the downtown, golf course and office park
-Home buyers will own their homes and land
· Zip Code:
-34747
· Amenities:
-18 hole public golf course
-Public school
-Offices
-Health facility
-Theatres
-Walking paths
-Nature trails
-Village parks
-Downtown lake
· Total Investment:
-$2.5 Billion




Ah, now I can tell it’s Florida; look at those Miami Beach colors.




Even better, Caribbean!




This place is seriously pretty.




The bachelors and swingers live in the 1BR units above the shops, smack in the middle of downtown. Note that Disney is not much into restricting the size of signage if it suits a picturesque purpose. That big beige thing dangling off the corner is a neon sign visible from down two streets. That must be Stern again; he’s the one who rezoned Times Square and told them they had to have neon. I remember when St. Augustine looked like this, before they turned it into a tourist attraction.




The streetscape here makes me think of Cannes.




A really nifty building by Stern, near the middle of things. Nice to see there is a middle.




Arcaded sidewalks with shops, just like Palm Beach, make a nice perspective axis.




The same receding lines in a traffic median, like a mini-Commonwealth Avenue. Are you starting to get the impression that this is really a pretty nice place?


Look, they have even jumped on the city car idea, http://pub66.ezboard.com/fskyscraperguyfrm7.showMessage?topicID=50.topic, and have specially-sized and designated spaces for microcars. This one is about the size and configuration of the Smart without doors:




Palm Beach-style, with its alleys and mid-block courts:






Glad to see that Disney is not down on taverns. That is a pretty nice café; and what lakefront is complete without a [Leon] Krieresque gazebo, complete with Key West shutters? That tropical theme just doesn’t let up:






The canal tells you you’re in Florida (or maybe the Low Countries); Celebration must have been a swamp once:

 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Now we’re definitely in Florida. Like that Spanish architecture:






And now, here is a square in London-town. Is this Belgravia? Nice of the fire marshal to allow windows in the endwalls; nothing worse to look at than a blank, exposed party wall:






Now we’re getting into more familiar, suburban territory. Things are starting to look less like someplace else and more like anyplace. Here is Anyplace, Cape Cod style:






And here is Anyplace, Victorian-style. Late nineteenth century streetscape with modern appliances, air conditioning and attached garages in the rear:






From the Celebration website referenced above:

HOUSING

Unlike most planned communities, where different uses and housing types a developed in separate "zones", Celebration will blend townhouses, apartments and Estate Homes in the same neighborhoods. Plans call for a pre-40's type of town...classical architecture, garages behind the houses and everything within walking distance.

Restrictive covenants will dictate what homeowners can and cannot do in Celebration. The covenants will not be released until homes go on sale on November 18, 1995. Included in the covenants are six approved design styles for homes in Celebration….

Classical
Victorian
Colonial Revival
Coastal
Mediterranean
French



It seems from the photos that they decided in fact that it was too risky to mix residential types. Too bad; I guess people prefer their immediate surroundings to be monotonous. Or maybe it’s only the experts who think this. Has anyone tried recently to test this theory with actual built form?

Here’s the link to Disney’s house types, as listed on the official website:

http://www.celebrationfl.com/residential/homes.html

Note the prices.


Here is a quick tour of Downtown.




The lugubrious (no, funereal) City Hall, by Philip Johnson. Has the Mouse no eyes? This building conveys the exact opposite of celebration. Oh well, guess it’s by a great architect. Well, famous anyway:




Post Office by Michael Graves, bank by Robert Venturi. Mediocrity incarnate in both cases; obviously only the name on the plans was important. I am posting drawings because photos make them look worse:




The waterfront hotel by Graham Gund is pretty nice:




The movie theater is right out of The Majestic:




Downtown is a pretty nice place to hang out:






Holy Moley: rocking chairs in the town square!! What will they think of next? Those imagineers! Next they’ll be soliciting for street artists.




A four-passenger city car for a mild climate:

 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Signs the touristos are starting to make nuisances of themselves:



What: you want privacy living in a theme park? Or is it a theme park? Maybe not.















More info (a bit out of date) from: http://www.city-data.com/city/Celebration-Florida.html

Population (year 2000): 2,736
Males: 1,331 (48.6%), Females: 1,405 (51.4%)
County: Osceola
Land area: 10.7 square miles
Zip code: 34747
Median resident age: 36.9 years
Median household income: $74,231
Median house value: $380,900
Races in Celebration:
· White Non-Hispanic (87.3%)
· Hispanic (7.6%)
· Black (1.7%)
· Other race (1.0%)
· Two or more races (1.0%)
· Asian Indian (0.8%)
· Chinese (0.6%)
(Total can be greater than 100% because Hispanics could be counted in other races)
Ancestries: Irish (16.9%), German (14.7%), Italian (11.6%), English (11.4%), United States (8.3%), Scotch-Irish (4.6%).
For population 25 years and over in Celebration CDP, Florida
· High school or higher: 93.8%
· Bachelor's degree or higher: 57.4%
· Graduate or professional degree: 21.7%
· Unemployed: 2.6%
· Mean travel time to work: 19.9 minutes
For population 15 years and over in Celebration CDP, Florida
· Never married: 22.2%
· Now married: 66.0%
· Separated: 1.6%
· Widowed: 5.8%
· Divorced: 4.4%
7.9% Foreign born (4.0% Europe, 2.5% Latin America).

A Request

There is evidently a deep need to hate Disney.

This thread is probably not the best place for a diatribe about corporate greed, the dangers of media consolidation, the sterilization of art, child molestation, homophiles or corporate censorship.

If, instead, you use a search engine and type the words "hate Disney", you will get a bonanza of Disney haters. There are at least 20 Hate Disney Forums. It's more popular than planning, by far.

search.yahoo.com/search?p=hate+Disney&ei=UTF-8&fr=fp-tab-web-t&cop=mss&tab=

If you are one of those who needs to hate Disney, pick one of those websites and vent there. Then, refreshed, come back and discuss the urban planning and architectural issues raised by Celebration.
 

steveanne

Member
Messages
176
Points
7
Ahh yes, Celebration. I used to work for the mouse a few years back and had many friends that lived in Celebration. Very nice... for a company that has caused so much sprawl! Unfortunately, a lot of tourists see Celebration as just another place to check out for free off of Route 192.

Off topic, for you Central Floridians...

What can be done to 192 in Kissimmee?? Holy crap! Run down hotels, themed areas closing at the drop of a hat (Xanadu - House of the Future, and the Haunted Dinner Show come to mind), terrible traffic, flea markets everywhere! A Publix every 1/2 mile...

My favorite eyesore on 192 is the Viking Motel... And have you noticed everything is "something world"? Boot World, Shell World, Citrus World, Flea World, etc...
 
Messages
16
Points
1
I spy with my little eye....lots o' cars and no pedestrians. What is up with that? That's no kind of urbanism.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Shorter

I will make future posts shorter. What do you recommend for a length?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Re: Shorter

ablarc said:
I will make future posts shorter. What do you recommend for a length?
Just use a handful of the best shots, then put the rest in the gallery. The problem is that it takes so long to download the images eacg time you read the thread, even when you have DSL.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Very pretty, but when I visited Celebration it felt very sterile and too "Disney".

What I don’t understand is if people want this lifestly why not move intown of an existing town? Why must we manufacture towns when we already have perfectly good ones? Is the attraction because it is new? What will happen when Celebration becomes old? Remodeling must be a pain the buttocks, the codes regs of what you can and cant do are so strong from what I understand.

I have to give both Celebration and Disney the big thumbs down.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Because real towns have real town problems. New urbanist "towns" are make-believe towns where everything is perfect.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
jordanb said:
Because real towns have real town problems. New urbanist "towns" are make-believe towns where everything is perfect.
Yeah, ‘perfectly’ boring. :-S

Real towns also have real culture. Celebration has as much culture as a strip mall. :p

But jordanb,unfortunately I believe you have it right on the mark here. :-|
 

brandonmason

Cyburbian
Messages
140
Points
6
There are public discussion boards for Celebration residents at www.34747.com and the main page has really nice pictures that are regularly updated.

It's interesting to see what the folks who inhabit that town discuss...
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
ablarc Long post, but I'm glad you provided us with the epic. Thanks.

To the Old crusty towns are better bunch I say, give them a chance. Most of what you retro types rave about was just as new and offbeat as the White City or Central Park were in their days. Experimentation is good. No one is being forced to live there.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,601
Points
69
jordanb said:
Because real towns have real town problems. New urbanist "towns" are make-believe towns where everything is perfect.
So were planned communities from before the New Urban era. Shaker Heights is really starting to show its age. New towns developed from the 1950s through the 1970s, like Columbia, Maryland and Park Forest, Illinois are experiencing aging pains. The riots in Foster City, California in the 1970s were legendary.

Celebration isn't immunie from the same forces that affect all other communities.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
brandonmason said:
There are public discussion boards for Celebration residents at www.34747.com and the main page has really nice pictures that are regularly updated.

It's interesting to see what the folks who inhabit that town discuss...
That is interesting. Are there any other towns that have such an active board that you know of?
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,208
Points
28
brandonmason said:
There are public discussion boards for Celebration residents at www.34747.com and the main page has really nice pictures that are regularly updated.

It's interesting to see what the folks who inhabit that town discuss...
One of the hottest threads is the one on Celebration High School:

http://www.34747.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=1&TopicID=1747&PagePosition=2

Apparently some folks are not satisfied with the quality of education there:

"Would anyone like to join me in buying land where we can construct a new, private high school?

I am considering contacting the Celebration Company about my interest in buying up to five (5) acres to construct a school for approximately 400 Celebration resident students. Yes, the land will be expensive, and yes the project will be a challange, but now that the new Montessori School (Begonia Hall) is almost complete, I am ready to tackle another project."

Good luck! Once you buy the land, how are you going to pay for the building and salaries of the teaching and administrative staff?

But let's hear from one of the CHS students:

"Making a private school will solve nothing. It will take years to build, and by building a school, you're pretty much giving up on our school. Not only that, but if you think we have a problem with teachers now then you'll definently have a teacher problem with a private school. Not only is there a tremendous teacher shortage in the country, but teachers are also less likely to work at a private school because of the conditions. I can tell you from personal experience that kids from Celebration are sterotyped as being the rich, white, snobby kids. Building a private school will only help to foster that belief."

Great stuff!
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Thanks, el Guapo, I was beginning to think this was the Sound Bite Forum.
I’ll try to keep them shorter in the future for those without DSL, but there is so much to say.

How far can you go with “Less is more”? The poster of this pithy phrase felt the need to repeat it when making a point about brevity. Sometimes once is not enough.


I spy with my little eye...lots o' cars and no pedestrians. What is up with that? That's no kind of urbanism.

CityGrrl,

Some photographers go to a lot of trouble to keep people out of their pictures of urban places, but they can’t do the same about parked cars. For a time, I used to get up at 4am Sundays to take pictures in Boston’s Financial District; it was the only time I could stand in the middle of the street or keep my pictures from filling up with heads. If your little eye spied those pictures, it would deceive you.

Actually, many of the downtown pictures contain the expected number of pedestrians for a small town. Small towns rarely have the teeming sidewalks of Fifth Avenue. And while on Fifth Avenue, I can direct you to any number of deserted residential sidewalks where you could peacefully smoke a joint in broad daylight.

What do you think those people did at Celebration after they parked their cars at curbside…dematerialize?

At least the place isn’t full of parking lots. It has a chance.


Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper

Very pretty, but when I visited Celebration it felt very sterile and too "Disney".

H,

Amazing how often a planner’s sentence starts with “Very pretty, but…”
Sometimes I think that if we concentrated on getting the “very pretty,” we could leave the social engineering to take care of itself; it never works according to theory, anyway.

It could be that we’re biased against the pretty; there just has to be a lot wrong with it.
Real places aren’t pretty, right?

Maybe when you speak of sterility, you mean that Celebration doesn’t have the patina of age that you find in the remnants of old towns; in other words it’s not run down. No graffiti, no parking lots, no peeling paint, no broken signs. Give it time; these will come.

There is no overt evidence of Disney at Celebration; if a planner didn’t know it was Celebration, he would probably still paint it with the term anyway, along with Seaside, Kentlands, and Poundbury, all of which I have heard referred to with this term. It is a catchall term of disapproval applied to all New Urbanism by those who feel threatened by it. Whatever for? No one has to live there.

What I don’t understand is if people want this lifestly why not move intown of an existing town?

There’s something about a new car…or house…or town…

Many of the old towns no longer have functioning downtowns; many have been converted to suburbia by parking or zoning requirements; others have turned into weekend antique malls. Others now look like this:


Cairo, Illinois

Why must we manufacture towns when we already have perfectly good ones?

We don’t have perfectly good ones. We have a bunch of old wrecks.
And even the best ones are not much loved by planners. Read the comments on Carmel on the Design page.

Is the attraction because it is new?

Yes, that makes it clean and attractive. But that’s not all; it has pretty much all of the characteristics of a traditional American town, and that is what some people seem to want at this time, like SUVs. The transition from suburb to a town like Celebration is not as gut-wrenching for these people as would be moving to say, Cairo, Ill.

It’s all about nostalgia: your perfectly good old towns and Celebration. The people who buy into Celebration want their nostalgia with a dishwasher that works.


Summer Evening by Edward Hopper

Personally, I like run-down places. I move into them if they have faded architectural merit. I watch as my investment grows and my environment improves. I would never consider living in Celebration, but I am not like most people. Most people don’t want to endure years of burglaries until their neighborhoods improve, whereas I don’t mind so much.

What will happen when Celebration becomes old?

That’s a long way off and depends on so many factors. It could devolve into a suburb if they change the zoning; or it could grow into a city if they change the zoning. Or it could turn into a depressed area if the Orlando region declined.

In all cases it would look more modified by time, and therefore would have to meet with greater approval from those who object to its present newness.

Remodeling must be a pain the buttocks, the codes regs of what you can and cant do are so strong from what I understand.

Most residents of Celebration subscribe to what they deem to be the wisdom of the regulations; that’s partly why they moved there. You could also say this about the artists in SoHo.You will never write regulations that please everyone from all places. The best you can hope to do is write regulations that please your target group.

The run-down place I moved into and helped fix up is now a historic district. If you want to talk about idiotic and coercive regulations, try moving into one of those; the people who write those rules know even less about architecture than planning. Or maybe if you really want to live there, you’ll take comfort that the regs will protect your chosen lifestyle.

Personally, I hate them, but I’m a born rebel.

I have to give both Celebration and Disney the big thumbs down.

Everyone these days gives Disney the thumbs down. It’s the trend:

http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=hate+Disney&ei=UTF-8&fr=fp-tab-web-t&cop=mss&tab=
 
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H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
ablarc said:
Amazing how often a planner’s sentence starts with “Very pretty, but…”
That is a fair accusation. However, I find nothing wrong with the “but” statement because it means that faults are being searched out, which leads to solutions, which leads to better places. :)

Real places aren’t pretty, right?
Wrong. ‘Real’ places can be very pretty. I know plenty. There are many threads on Cyburbia where we discuss pretty ‘real’ places. Go read them.

There is no overt evidence of Disney at Celebration
There are no mouse ears, true, but the ‘Disney’ was felt by myself and the non-planners I was there with.

No one has to live there.
True.

There’s something about a new car…or house…or town….
Apparently there is. There is also something about a town with history and tradition. I realize this is a personal opinion choice and I chose history. I enjoy eating at a restaurant that our grandfathers ate at or a big ‘deal’ was cut, I enjoy playing golf (or substitute other activity here) on a course where my dad learned how the play and hit his first birdie. I enjoy seeing relatives and town legends in class pictures in the high school or college. I enjoy seeing places with historical signs out front or at least a story. But this is an opinion, I realize that.

Many of the old towns no longer have functioning downtowns.
And many do.

We don’t have perfectly good ones. We have a bunch of old wrecks.
Excuse me??? Come on, that is an ignorant statement. There are plenty of good old towns. Again, go read the forums to see examples.

I just cannot see the charm in Celebration. I believe these new towns built in a short time period as a mass development are make-believe and I do not support them (my comments are about the towns, your pictures are nice). I do not like the way our disposable culture throws away old towns and creates new ones without a thought about what this does to our society. I will make no apologies for thinking this way, and expect no apologies from people who think differently. However, I just find it sad and will always continue to work to help areas left behind by ‘progress’. :(

But cheers to you, ablarc, for having an opinion. :b::)
 
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ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
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20
H,

Thank you, and cheers to you.

I don't think our opinions are so far apart.

I agree with pretty much everything you say that is not proscriptive. As I said, I wouldn't dream of living in Celebration, but that does not mean I support denying it to others, or disparaging its genuine virtues.

I also think we should fix up our old towns and cities, but I don't see why that means we can't build new ones, too. And the new ones will inevitably seem...new. Or would you support imbuing them with some kind of artificial historic patina? Now that really would be Disney, wouldn't it?

As a factual matter, we may have different standards of acceptability for surviving towns. I am aware of seven good old towns in my state. Your state--with plenty--sounds like paradise.
 
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H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
ablarc said:
I am aware of seven good old towns in my state. Your state--with plenty--sounds like paradise.
Well far from paradise, but the South (including my current state of Florida) has plenty of great towns full of history and personality. I have lived in 4 cities in my life and feel they all are great places full of life. These cities are:

Atlanta, GA
Oxford, Miss
Knoxville, TN
Miami, Florida

And I have visit countless other great cities as well, both big and small.


As you said, there will not be a world without new places. That is why people need to help them be the best they possibly can. That is why I look for fault in places. Hopefully if faults are noticed and pointed out, then the can be corrected. :)
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
I'm gonna go out on a limb since I live near Celebration and have visited it. I think it sucks. It may be aesthetically OK. But it has no warmth to it, the residents don't like "other people" there, and it is just plain too full of itself. Get the willies just thinking about re-visiting, too "Stepford".
 

steveanne

Member
Messages
176
Points
7
Ok, there are some pretty cool things that Celebration have. During the holidays, they make it snow in downtown Celebration at certain times and all the kids come down and play in the "snow". It's a really fun time if you are a transplant and are homesick.

And, yes it does have a "Pleasantville" feel, but I really enjoyed the area. I still have friends that live in Celebration (the downtown apartments), and they say they'll never leave.
 

Plannerbabs

Cyburbian
Messages
1,037
Points
23
My favorite was the grocery store, "Family-run since 1937". I'm assuming they meant the company rather than the actual store, but it was pretty funny. Celebration does have an odd feel to it. I want to like it, because it is walkable (once you drive there) and has mixed use, high-density development, and most of the stuff in the grocery store is actually affordable, but there's just something about it. It's interesting, and some of the buildings are lovely, but I couldn't escape the feeling that I was in an outdoor shopping mall with apartments the whole time. You just don't get that feeling in older mixed-use developments. And that may just be Celebration's propensity towards boutiques; the entire town is a boutique. Probably once it's older, the trees have grown, and it's lost some of its shiny edges, it will be a more comfortable place, but right now...it's a great place to visit.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Confession:I've never visited, so I can't comment on the actual feel of the place. From the photographs, it certainly looks far nicer than the typical suburban cul-de-sac and development pods project. Since we will be building more suburbs in the future, I would rather they look and function like Celebration.

On the other hand, I am really bothered by the rigidity of the controls. I'm not sure, Plannerbabs, that they WANT the community to evolve. I prefer a little more messiness (not too much, the white trash yard filled with junk and a "wrestling ring" crossed the line :) ) This is not a dig only against Celebration or other "New Urbanist" developments, because you can find similar rigid cc&rs in "golf course and garage doors" suburbs in California.

Also: Celebration sells itself as a "unique" experiment. That's going to attract somewhat self-important (and affluent) people. Again, you should see the squabbles in golf course subdivisions and planned communities of more suburban type.

Just my two cents. I kinda like the big posts, by the way. But then, I'm on my employer's t-3 connection :) .
 

lowlyplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
69
Points
4
I visited Celebration a couple of years ago - prepared to hate it. Instead, I wound up really liking it. I wandered around for a couple of hours, talked my way into a house with a for sale sign, ate some ice cream.

I thought it was really nice to be in a place where it obvious that some thought had gone into how the place looked. It's miles above most of the new development that's occurring right now, and that's significant.

On a side note, the schools issue was described in The Celebration Chronicles, a book by a guy from New York who lived there for a year (and whose name escapes me). Disney had promised their homebuyers that they would build and equip a public grade, middle and high school for the town (and for Celebration residents only). Many of their buyers believed that their outrageous mortgage payments would be justified because they could avoid the expense of sending their kids to private school. Unfortunately, the state decided that you couldn't have seperate and un-equal education facilities (50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Ed this week), so the schools weren't as fancy as advertised, and even worse, they had to let the (gasp!) County kids go there.

Apparently this blew up into a major issue, with threats of lawsuits, etc.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
lowlyplanner said:
I visited Celebration a couple of years ago - prepared to hate it. Instead, I wound up really liking it.

I thought it was really nice to be in a place where it obvious that some thought had gone into how the place looked. It's miles above most of the new development that's occurring right now, and that's significant.
Many planners are suspicious of good looks, not being directly in the business of producing that outcome.

Such folks are much more comfortable with the topics of sociologists. They concentrate on social engineering issues.

While doing this, don't lose sight of the fact that small towns have always been full of narrow-minded busybodies or self-important toadies. If we want to promote small-town values, we have to recognize that among these is a predilection to form lynch mobs.

I don't see lynch mobs in Celebration, but I do see a nice- looking, walkable place.

And I don't see Disney.

Btw, what faculty do you use to sense Disney?
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
I can sense Disney because I live nearby and it's in the air. ;)

As an aside, and final comment, I have toured about a dozen of the showcase Celebration homes (as "model" homes). In every one, some combination of: uneven baseboards, crooked electrical outlets, bubbly wallpaper, cheap (for the home price) fixtures/wood trim, etc. Yet these homes command twice the price of comparably-sized homes in the metro area. Many of the shops have closed over the years, and, as Lowlyplanner noted, the school system never panned out as expected. Celebration is, unfortunately, not the paradise that many families thought they bought into, it's just another subdivision.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
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2,713
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24
ablarc said:
Many planners are suspicious of good looks, not being directly in the business of producing that outcome.

Such folks are much more comfortable with the topics of sociologists. They concentrate on social engineering issues.

While doing this, don't lose sight of the fact that small towns have always been full of narrow-minded busybodies or self-important toadies. If we want to promote small-town values, we have to recognize that among these is a predilection to form lynch mobs.

I don't see lynch mobs in Celebration, but I do see a nice- looking, walkable place.

And I don't see Disney.

Btw, what faculty do you use to sense Disney?
WTF?

What the hell are you talking about? I am wondering what you have for a sample of planners to describe?

The planners I am aware of do thier damdest to get decent looking product from developers. In fact, that is what zoning and building code are enacted to do (attempted). In another thread, you said these attempts were worthless and counterproductive. Even the "liberal" planners that despise business do thier damndest to attract and keep business happening and growing in thier towns. Because it is a nacessity.

I don't know where you live, but I can't remember the last time I saw a lynch mob. In fact, the closest I ever came to seeing a shooting in any city, the Polezi were chasing a man down the alley of an old section of Nurenburg after stiffing a prostitute (no pun intended :) ). I almost got to see a riot once after an Ohio State football game agains UM but they won so it was just a giant beer party. I seek out events like this.

Yup, nothing good ever comes out of small towns. Only the big cities are of worth. WTF man? Most small towns are walkable, but the jobs to keep people aren't there. Those with no jobs must go somewhere else.

Take some time out from your technical manuals, you are taking the fluff a little to much to heart.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
The Intellectuals Weigh In

Celebration, U.S.A., and The Celebration Chronicles


Here is an exchange of letters between critics/authors/urbanists Witold Rybczynski and Russ Rymer on the subject of Celebration.

Ah, these liberal intellectuals. They see the complexity of every issue…



From: Russ Rymer

Subject: Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

Dear Witold,

While researching my last book, in which I devote a chapter to talking about Celebration, I lived in a town on the coast of Florida called Fernandina Beach. Fernandina is exactly the type of town that Celebration would emulate: close, old, quaintly Victorian, rife with sidewalks, history, and pedestrians, and all the forms of old-style American community.

While Celebration promotes itself as a model for American innocence, hearkening back to the way we were pre-1940, before we were so corrupted by the highway and the suburb, Fernandina Beach was literally (and literarily) the model for another and more cautionary rendition of that same '40s ur-village. Grace Metalious lived there when she was writing Peyton Place (though her editor made her relocate her novel to New England) and I must say from my years residing there that in the vividness of its intrigues the town lives up to its billing.

As I took Celebration to task for its faux history and democracy, I reflected back on Fernandina, which was, whatever else might be "Peyton Place-ish," at least a real community, the product of hundreds of years of conflicts bloodier by far than Parent vs. Disney school disputes. It was also a living temple of participatory democracy, and watching the American system work there on election nights and at meetings of Port Commissions and Mosquito Control Boards became my vision of what a corporate-confection like Celebration could not replicate.

Now along come Andrew Ross and Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz (authors of the definitive book on Celebration), and what they have to say about what they saw in Celebration troubles, or at least complicates, my formula. Because this is the problem: In the face of our postwar, retail, mobile, corporate culture, democracy is not only a seemingly ineffectual anodyne to social blight; it becomes a part of the problem.

Yes, Orlando has become a hideous sprawl of ticky-tack in the years since Disney made it the largest tourist destination in the world. You could say that corporate commerce created the problem. But only the corporation can seemingly solve it, since the problem evidently thrives on the democratic turf, and not within the Disney World campus (whose Kremlinesque government, dominated by Disney's apparatchik, levies its own taxes and polices its own zoning and safety regulations under Florida law) nor in Celebration. What are we to do with this? What exactly does it mean?

I returned to Fernandina last year to catch up with friends, and I found it changed. For a long while, now, as tourists discovered the town, sweatshirt and knick-knack shops have been replacing the general merchandise businesses of a working town, until now Centre Street is one long tourist mall. They even play melodies from loudspeakers just as Celebration did until the influence of Michael and Jane Eisner and Robert A.M. Stern put a stop to it.

Since I left, all the institutions that made Fernandina the place that neotraditionalist America wants so desperately to return to have disappeared: The banks have moved out to the highway. The main post office has moved out to the highway. Even the county courthouse has left its century-old brick home with the clock tower and moved out to the highway. The citizens of the town objected, but the county voters didn't care, and the big money (much of it developer money) was all on the side of turning Fernandina into a theme park. So that's what happened. Democracy is destroying the town that was a temple of democracy.

But that is not the ultimate point of my parable. At the same time as all this, the Fernandina city and Nassau County governments have been enthralled by a new development that has been zoned and permitted and is now rising to Fernandina's east. I've talked with some Fernandina residents who can't wait to leave their hundred-year-old, history-laden homes and move in there. The development is a neotraditionalist, new urbanist "community" that promises to re-create the traditional American town, a town not unlike Fernandina. It's a little Celebration, its mawkish marketing and sentimental architecture direct descendants of Celebration and Seaside, Fla. And what I want to know is: Where are we when America deserts its roots to race to a place that promises to return it to its roots? What happens when the economic interests that are destroying American society are pretending to reconstitute it right next door? This is why the books of Andrew Ross and Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins are needed.


With regards and respect,

Russ Rymer





From: Witold Rybczynski

Subject: You Can't Go Home Again

Dear Russ,

I like your story about Fernandina. To me, it precisely illustrates the impossibility of starting over from scratch, which is what towns like Celebration promise.

I like many aspects of Celebration. The emphasis on sidewalks and walkability, the traditional design of the houses, the smaller lots that give a sense of place to the streets, the back alleys that put the cars in the background, and the planning that gives equal importance to the individual houses and the common shared spaces. What I am skeptical of is turning one's back on so many aspects of everyday American life. For example, I happen to like Home Depot. If I lived in Celebration, I would have to drive some distance to find one. Nor do I remember seeing a service station. Nor a car wash. Nor a storage facility. There is no motel, but there is a bed and breakfast (I happen to prefer the former). So much of what is necessary to the way we live today is relegated to "out there."

Celebration doesn't tell us anything about how we could better arrange our present lives, how we could integrate and knit together convenience stores and Home Depots, for example, or neighborhoods and strip malls. Inexpensive strip malls, whatever their appearance, are where little business are born, since budding entrepreneurs can't afford the rents that elegant town centers charge.

Jane Jacobs long ago wrote that successful cities needed a variety of buildings, old as well as new, which could serve a variety of functions. The contradiction of a new town is that everything is new, hence expensive. That is one explanation for the lack of cheaper houses that both Ross and Frantz-Collins bemoan. There are no fixer-uppers in Celebration. This is obviously an unfair criticism, yet it underlines the real limitations of starting over.

There is another, final aspect to this conundrum. I teach a course about architecture and urban design to budding developers at the Wharton School. After a class on New Urbanism, where I showed them several projects and took them to see Kentlands, a large planned community in Maryland, I asked them to write a paper about the subject. One of the students wrote: "If there was one question I would like to ask the people who live in these neotraditional communities, it would be: What would it take to make you move?" It was a perceptive observation. Starting over always promises stability--"this time we are going to do it right"--but, of course, the world will not stop. Somebody will come up with a better idea. Or, at least, what seems to be a better idea at the time.
Celebration is in many ways a better idea. No doubt, it is destined to take its place among a long list of admirable experiments in visionary American town-making: Williamsburg, Annapolis, Savannah, Forest Hills Gardens, Radburn--and Seaside. But they are experiments, the mainstream will make its own way, as it always has done.


All the best,

Witold
 

Quail64

Cyburbian
Messages
55
Points
4
From the bright eyed and bushy tailed

I have never been to Celebration, but from what I've seen, I really don't think I'd care much for it.

I think it suffers from being way too fixed on trying to remind people of a time gone by. Apparently people pay good money for this. Personally, I can't think of anything more depressing from a new place, because instead of looking to the future and taking care of the present, it wishes for the past. I believe if you are going to build a place that is completely new, you should at the very least try something new with the architecture. Something that says "you are here." Not something that says, "you wish you were here." New places should be just that. Not dumbed down galleries of great places.

However, I do love the mixed use ideas, and downtown looks very nice (it's got a Florida feel to it, which seems to me to be much more real than whatever the rest of the town is trying to remind people of.)

If they ditched the classical, victorian, and colonial revival and stuck to styles that make Florida unique, it would have been much nicer. Plus, there is the obvious flaw of having no older buildings

That post office is an absolute abomination.

On the nature of the place-

I don't like the idea of making a small town as an extension to a city. I mean com'on, cities are big fun places and quiet laid-back small towns belong out in the country with the farmers. If you want that "small town feel" go work in the small town you came from. If you want big money and excitement, you should live in the city, which means saying goodbye to the little house on the prairie. Small towns should be a natural evolution in farming, mining, or fishing communities - not a bunch of rich people wishing for "simpler times."

Which brings up the funny thing about suburbs - are they places in and of themselves, or merely a means to another place? Celebration seems to be the latter; there is no real reason (such as a job) for people to come and live there. The only thing it has going for it is its "unique" way of living, which boggles my mind as to why there is so much bland design.

I don't think Celebration will ever evolve from it's "experiement" status into a real, functioning place simply because there is nothing real about it. There is no industry (or any grounding reason for existence), only retail and residential. While I've never been there, I can see how one could easily feel as if one is in a shopping mall because that is exactly the kind of place it is.

/my $.02
 
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Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
The killer for Celebration is that the only way out is the highway from hell; during winter tourist season, it can take an hour to go 1 mile on US 192. Takes all the fun out of commuting...
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
Messages
496
Points
16
Great pics of a geat place ABlarc.
Do you mind if i cownload some and show it to some of my planner freinds in the government here.
Keeping the small perfect toy town debate out of my post for hte time being what i would like to see now is the kind of finish to the streets, the kerbs and the landcsaping details of the wwalkways, cycle paths, water channels.
MAybe we could incorporate some of the detailing and keep the snaps as some standard.
I quite agree that for a larger town city the infrastructure like that would take a lot of pressure and may not be as clean as we may want it to be.

If theres some copyright then do let me know.

will react again later to the ongoing debate.

Thanks and bye.
 

bestnightmare

Cyburbian
Messages
61
Points
4
Neat pictures of Celebration. I have a book to recommend, How Cities Work by Alex Marshall. He discusses the planning issues raised by Celebration, it's relationship to its older neighbor Kissimmee, and the greater Orlando metro area and its economic engine, Walt Disney World.

I think Celebration is no more of a 'town' than any other newly-built suburb. Most of its residents commute elsewhere to work in metro Orlando by car. It has more in common economically with an upscale gated housing development with a nearby high-end shopping center than nearby Kissimmee. Though Celebration itself is conducive to pedestrian mobility, and certainly looks nicer than typical automobile suburbs, I think it misses the point entirely in finding a solution to the problem of living in monotonous suburbs where you have to get in your car to leave your house. We neglect our existing towns and cities, leaving them to rot, and use up precious public resources on new infrastructure for new development.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
I don't like the idea of making a small town as an extension to a city. I mean com'on, cities are big fun places and quiet laid-back small towns belong out in the country with the farmers. If you want that "small town feel" go work in the small town you came from. If you want big money and excitement, you should live in the city, which means saying goodbye to the little house on the prairie. Small towns should be a natural evolution in farming, mining, or fishing communities - not a bunch of rich people wishing for "simpler times."
This is, of course, contrary to the entire history of Anglo-American (England, the United States, Australia, Canada, and the like) "urban" culture. Most people want nothing to do with the "excitement" of a big city-but they want the big city job market and cultural amenities. Thus, urban areas that consist of collections of faux-small towns, with all of the fake "country-this" and "village-that" place names. Nobody really wants to live in a real small town, with all of the limitations that can mean (I know there are several Cyburbanites who love their small towns and do choose that lifestyle. The average suburbanite, though, only wants to pretend.)

I work in a city of 100,000+ people one whose primary planning goals is to preserve a mythical "small town feeling."
 

prahaboheme

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Quail64 said:
I don't think Celebration will ever evolve from it's "experiement" status into a real, functioning place simply because there is nothing real about it. There is no industry (or any grounding reason for existence), only retail and residential. While I've never been there, I can see how one could easily feel as if one is in a shopping mall because that is exactly the kind of place it is.

/my $.02
Celebration already is a "real, functioning place" despite one's personal taste or preference. Further, there is more than just retail, there is heathcare (the Celebration Hospital, part of the larger, expanding Florida Hospital system), education (the public school system, Stetson University and a Teaching Academy), as well as a substantial and growing business sector along Celebration Blvd.

And I don't understand the Disney "feel" that many speak of, it must be those Caesar Pelli, Philip Johnson, and Robert Stern designed buildings.
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,188
Points
22
Poeple slag off 'Celebration' becuase it's by Disney and...whatever other obscure reasons. They slag off gentrified older neighborhoods. They slag off the suburbs.

Let's all live in high-density publiuc housing run by the State or, even better, 'authentic' (poor) neighborhoods.

There is a whole chapter in 'Suburban Nation' (otherwise a v. interesting and compellign bpook) about how the middle class' deserted' the city and 'abdicated' its role within the urban fabric.

No. You want to knwo the truth? In the US, the UPPER middle class was 'democratically' deposed from its natural position of urban leadership. The public servants (police, courts, municiapl clerks) ceased to be their agents; and so they "up and left" for the burbs. People at Rockerfeller level of wealth/influence may still have a role in city planning/directing but city school systems are no longer run by the "right" people, rather by bureaucrats beholden to whinge-groups, etc.

You want traditional urbanism? Two ways:
1. Compel people to live on top of each other whether they like it or not, European style. This won't fly in the US. Ever. But you could try.

2. Put the Upper Middle Class back where it belongs, running things. "Owning" the city. That is what 'gated communities' and Celebration and some New Urbanism is all about. Re-establishing control. Well-off people don't HAVE to take sh#t off their "lesser" citizens. So they won't. If they can't run the show, they vote with their feet/wallet.
 

solidbeam

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
I've lived in Celebration and the place IS very real. The resident are very active and they care about their community. I actually lived in a garage apartment that I rented from an airline pilot.

I was motived to walk (lost some weight).

I was motived to improve my economic position (I built a company called GarageApartments.com).

I was motivated to get involved.

I have sense moved to suburbia, because I couldn't afford a house in Celebration, and I gained the weight back :-| I'm so looking forward to living in a New Urban town again in the future.
 
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