Seaside Institute™ and the New Urbanism Movement

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By Kimberly Stanley, SEASIDE Institute

In an era where urban sprawl isolates individuals and threatens to engulf the very essence of community, New Urbanism aims to create a positive change. This design movement works toward fostering vibrant, inclusive neighborhoods. Rooted in the belief that the built environment greatly influences a person’s quality of life, New Urbanism is not merely a planning philosophy. It’s a mission, aimed at bringing together communities and the local economy to be better equipped for future generations.

At its core, New Urbanism is about creating walkable, mixed-use communities that focus on human interaction and environmental stewardship. This means creating or recreating neighborhoods where residents can live, work, and play.  This reduces the need for relying on automobiles as the only source of transportation and promotes healthier, more active lifestyles. Streets are designed to be pedestrian-friendly and walking or riding bikes is the norm, rather than the exception. The structural elements of each community are planned with sustainability in mind, using materials or techniques that will be resilient to changes in the population and the environment.

Seaside, Florida OverviewSeaside, Florida Demonstrates New Urbanism

Seaside®, Florida, with its pastel-colored cottages, quaint brick streets, and vibrant town center, serves as a living testament to the transformative outcome of using New Urbanism design principles. Founded in the 1980s by Robert and Daryl Davis, this thriving beach town was designed by architects Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. It is the birthplace of New Urbanism and embodies the essence of walkable, mixed-use development, promoting a strong sense of community.

Seaside Institute™, the town’s non-profit organization, stands as a beacon of innovation. The Institute is dedicated to promoting the principles of connectivity, adaptability, and sustainability that define the New Urbanist movement. Connectivity lies at the heart of New Urbanism, fostering social and economic growth. By utilizing a more compact, human-centric type of space, residents can access essential services, daily amenities, and public gathering spots, helping avoid long commutes and promoting a sense of inclusiveness.

Adaptability allows neighborhoods to evolve and thrive in the face of changing needs, accommodating new residents and businesses without sacrificing the character and charm that defines the area. Sustainability is arguably the most critical aspect, with a focseasideus on helping rather than harming the environment and promoting resilience in the face of climate change. From green building practices and renewable energy to better transportation options and enhanced utility management, New Urbanist developments such as SEASIDE® prioritize the health of the planet for long-term stability.

By offering various programs, educational symposia, and exhibits to architects, town planners, community leaders, residents, and visitors, Seaside Institute™ seeks to increase awareness of the principles that define New Urbanism and inspire positive changes in planning and design. They collaborate with organizations and entities to address topics such as coastal resilience, preservation of our natural habitat, responsible planning for new developments, creative design, and local culture.

Worldwide Influence

Seaside®’s influence and design philosophy has been demonstrated worldwide. From Charleston, South Carolina to Seabrook, Washington and across the globe to Poundbury, England and beyond, the evidence of responsible forward progression can speak for itself. People who feel safer and can live a healthier lifestyle have a better quality of life, both physically and mentally. With continued dedication and creative vision, the future of our neighborhoods looks brighter and realistically attainable.

For more information about partnership opportunities or to become a member of SEASIDE Institute™, please visit www.seasideinstitute.org or email k.stanley@seasideinstitute.org.