Design: Building a Down-Home Utopia

Florida's Seaside is a new kind of new town, circa 1930

As on other warm-water coastlines around the world, almost all the recent development on Florida's panhandle has been large-scale and anonymous: thoughtless high-rise condo stacks inexorably blotting out those few stretches along the beach that still have a neon-lit, corn-dog-and-Dr Pepper charm. But between Pensacola and Panama City, Developer Robert Davis is building a splendid and improbable little utopia. His nascent village of Seaside is an old-fashioned hamlet complete with a town square and a Greek Revival post office. The basic idea is simple and radical, even profound: although Seaside consists mainly of vacation houses, it is designed as a real...

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