The Seaside Research Portal: Archiving the First New Urban Community

Seaside is a small coastal community located on the Florida Panhandle, in between Panama City to the east and Fort Walton Beach to the west, in the city of Santa Rosa Beach and the county of Ft. Walton. The area is quite diverse geographically comprised of beautiful beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, the Choctawhatchee Bay a bit inland, forested state parks, and multiple streams, ponds, and small lakes. Much of the land surrounding the county was owned by the St. Joe Paper Company.

Seaside is heralded as the first “New Urban” community. Founded in 1979 (construction began in 1981) by Robert Davis and planned by Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk in consultation with Leon Krier, Seaside is an 80 acre community with a population of approximately 1228, including cats and dogs. New Urbanism is an argument against suburban sprawl and the re-awakening of the American city. Its principles state that a walkable, connected, mixed use community will yield a better quality of life. Seaside is the first of many successful New Urbanist communities in the US and abroad.

The University of Notre Dame established a relationship with the community of Seaside in 2010 through its founder Robert Davis and his long association with ND’s School of Architecture. Mr. Davis serves as a juror for the Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame, a yearly prize awarded to an architect practicing in the classical tradition. This relationship led Mr. Davis to seek assistance from the School and the Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame’s Architecture Library for the storage and organization of the Seaside archives.

View the research portal here.

January 15, 2020

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