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Community Planning and Development
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Home design is closely related to the communities in which those homes reside. Our experience in community planning and development helps us greatly in providing well-designed homes in communities that are designed for comfortable living, ease of access and practicality. This gives each home and homeowner a sense of place in the community where neighbors can interact in a friendly, cozy atmosphere.

As a member of the Institute of Classical Architecture, I am also affiliated with the Congress of Residential Architecture (CORA) and the Congress of New Urbanism (CNU). Both of these organizations are dedicated to fashioning new housing that can be integrated into communities that relate to and adapt easily to their environmental surroundings.

Mother playing with kids
Instead of designing and building homes for the life of the structure, we need to design and build them for the lives of the people who live in them. Planning for the future of our families is very important in home design, whether a baby is on the way, the children have gone to college and you have the whole place to yourself or you're retiring and want to downsize.
Society Hill

People and families live where they do for the following reasons:
1. Heritage. This is where they were born and grew up, their families are here and there is a close bond between family members.
2. Economics. Their jobs have brought them here and their career advancement is dependent on following the path of life that they have chosen.
3. Educational opportunities. Some people seeking higher education have found that their new homeland is the place where they can best find the life that have always sought.
4. Selective migration. They don't like their place of heritage and they have chosen to move to another location for self-fulfillment. Others have done so in order to contribute to the lives of other people, for humanitarian reasons.
5. Family emigration. Some people move with their families because they have no other choice.
6. Forced emigration. Natural disaster, political upheaval, social unrest, famine, pestilence or pandemic disease cause people, even entire populations to seek refuge or asylum in foreign lands.

Train in the Woods

For whatever reason you reside where you do, it is my goal to help you find the comfort you desire and deserve in the home that you have chosen for yourself and your family. May you have peace and happiness in your home and environment.

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Taking pride in our community means taking an active role in preserving its integrity.

Detail of building & windows

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Our architectural heritage is a treasure worth preserving. It's in the best interests of everyone to maintain our identity as a worldwide community.

Venice

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Preserving our environment is not an option; it's an absolute requirement.

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Family Circa 1950

Home design is closely related to the planning and design of the community in which the home resides. For the past six decades there has been a steady decline in the design of communities and homes that meet the needs of the people who will eventually reside there. I believe that there is too much homogenization of cookie-cutter plans being indiscriminately plunked into cookie-cutter developments that are not sensitive to the environment, the topography of the land and the geographic location of the site.

It is time that we as design professionals return to the practice of working with developers and home builders to create livable communities within our specific regions that make for more comfortable living in a more humanized environment. It doesn't cost any more to create a sense of place in our communities so that individuals and families can feel at home and that home is a welcome retreat from the outside world. However, this is a team effort that requires the cooperation of all three members of the team: the developer, the builder and the design professional. I believe that there is far too much animosity between these three parties as to who is in charge of the project and that the person holding the checkbook wins the battle. It should not be a battle of building the fastest, least expensive per square foot house to "get the most bang for your buck." We need to put the families' needs first and design/build what is best for them.

The stereotypical three-bedroom, two-bath, two-car garage home may work well for most average families, but it does not work for everyone. Many clients come to me asking why there are no four- and five-bedroom homes on the market in urban areas. The answer is that most builders and developers do not market to that small segment of the community, and I believe that they should be flexible enough to address their needs for the appropriate percentage of that population.

Most builders, developers and design professionals are not targeting other segments of the population: those with physical disabilities and low-income families. You can learn more about how I am addressing the needs of the disabled in the "Universal Design" page of this site.

I would like to cite two examples that can help change the way we create our lifestyle environment. The first deals with the community itself and the second deals with the homes within each community.

For many years, developers have been building subdivisions that all look somewhat the same and without much reasoning behind the design process. For example, there are literally thousands of baby-boom generation subdivisions on flat terrain that have winding streets, cul-de-sacs and gated entrances with only one way in and the same way out. It may make them seem more private, but after a while, many people get tired of living there and want change. So they move to another similarly designed subdivision with the same type of layout and same types of houses, just a different location. Emergency, safety and energy efficiency are given little or no thought and homes are randomly placed on lots irrespective of orientation and continuity of design.

It also puzzles me that new subdivisions are built by bulldozing all the trees, which are the habitat of much wildlife and their homes are replaced by ours. Replacing those trees takes years, even generations and the damage done is irrevocable.

In flat terrain areas, communities should be laid out in traditionally historic fashion as was done for centuries before the automobile began its stranglehold on our lives, choking our sense of neighborhood. Remember, the root word of neighborhood is "neighbor." How many of us who live in these twisted subdivisions take the time to get to know and appreciate all our neighbors? Most of us barely acknowledge their existence.

A community designed for a flat location should not be designed and built the same as one for a hilly location, a lakefront or seaside location, a mountainous plateau or a river valley. Each community should be designed and built with respect for its surroundings.

The second issue relates to the homes designed and built in these subdivisions. National builders move in, build what they have built everywhere else in the country without regard to the culture of the region, make their profits and move on. They need to be educated and sensitized to the needs of the regions where they build.

Does it make sense to build a Cape Cod cottage in Albuquerque, New Mexico? No! In fact, it makes no more sense to do that than to build an adobe pueblo in Hyannis or Nantucket.

Most regions of the U.S. (and most other countries for that matter) have their own unique cultural flavors that make them unique and different. However, we have become so mobile and transient that we seem to feel that if we move from Brattleboro, Vermont to Phoenix, Arizona that we have to take our culture and lifestyle with us and force it on the community where we move. That includes the homes that we want to live in when we get there. Well, it just doesn't work. People who wish to move from the snowbelt to the sunbelt must learn to accept the culture and climate of their new environment without trying to fit the proverbial square peg into a round hole.

Many out-of-state clients come to me (here in Florida) and ask me to design a home for them that's just like the one they left in upstate New York, Michigan, Ohio or some other northern climate. They just don't understand that living is different here in Florida and the homes we design and build must also be different in order to cope with the different climate and natural environment.

"There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God."
Ecclesiastes 2:24 (King James Bible)