fab ·ri ·cate \fab-ri-keyt\ verb
to make by art or skill and labor; construct; to make by assembling parts or sections
New urbanism is a term coined in the early 1990’s by a group of very progressive architects who were planning new and creative neighborhoods. As a landscape architecture student later that decade, these communities were at the forefront of our curriculum and often pointed to as the model for planned growth and development.
The concepts that drive new urbanism can be diluted with overuse and oversimplification. Calling any new development with a mix of uses and housing styles new urbanism is not exactly accurate. This dilution has led some critics to call new urbanism fake or fabricated.
Celebration, Florida is one of the highest profile new urbanist projects of the recent past, in part because of its Disney affiliation. It is in fact completely fabricated and that is what makes it so stunning. It was planned down to the smallest detail and yet it feels organic and comfortable. It is walkable all over, quaint on some streets, vibrant on others, and delightful throughout. It was conceptualized, sketched, planned, and fabricated with a common vision of creating a community. By chance, it is also a great teaching space, because every view, walk, and experience in Celebration has a lesson to offer.
We are in the business of creating great communities and to do that we must fabricate portions of that experience, which is to say we must craft our improvements with a modicum of art and skill. The colors, the fonts, the placement of shrubs, the lighting, and the decorative ornamentation exemplified in this view of a planned community in Florida can inspire us in Pennsylvania to fabricate our own great spaces.