US Post Office, Seaside, Florida, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"
United States (Artist's nationality)
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As a child, Robert Davis summered with his grandfather on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, in the Florida Panhandle. Years later, after he had become an award-winning developer, Davis and his sister inherited eighty acres of Gulf Coast property purchased by their grandfather just after World War II. Recalling childhood memories of beach town life, he engaged Miami architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and together they began to plan a community of traditional wood frame houses with large front porches.
Inspired by the vernacular architecture of the region, the structures they designed were sited relatively close together in the style of small towns of the past. Workplaces, shops and restaurants were located within walking distance, not only for convenience but to foster community and reduce the need for automobiles. Strict building codes were set to ensure a carefully created sense of place. Fully built, Seaside proved highly successful and influential, becoming the poster child of a planning and development style known as “New Urbanism.”
Critics of Seaside and Celebration, Florida, another well-known New Urbanist community, consider them nostalgic and based on an idealized past that never existed—a Baudrillardian simulacrum. They maintain that Seaside is really a beach resort that fails to address true urban conditions in America or anywhere else and that, if anything, it’s an exemplar of new suburbanism.
The town of Seaside was used as the set for Peter Weir’s 1998 film, The Truman Show, about a man whose entire life, unbeknownst to him, is being broadcast as a syndicated television series.
From the portfolio, Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America, 1982–2005
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