sub ·tle \suht-l\ adjective
not immediately obvious or comprehensible; difficult to detect or analyze, often through being delicate or highly refined
If you have enjoyed any time at The Villages in Florida, subtlety may not be the first word that comes to mind. It should be though.
Like Celebration (see fabricate), it is a planned community or a fabricated place and with that distinction comes some of the same critical comments about artificiality and thematic design. It is true that there are three town squares with unique design themes that are executed like a movie set, complete with props to emphasize the motif. But if this is all you notice after being in this community, you have not looked deep enough.
It’s the subtle touches that make the 100,000+ residents of the Villages want to be there. The overt themes (Spanish colonial, turn-of-the-century waterfront resort, and early century Florida cattle ranch) and design standards are creative. Personal touches make the Villages unique and eye-catching. But it’s the subtle details that make you feel at home and can be applied to any of our own communities. These details are found in the use of color on the buildings, the focus on pedestrian scaled signage, the quality and texture of building materials, the thoughtful use of branding. These details are not reserved exclusively for a planned community, they are free to be employed in our communities here as well.
The transportation center in the photograph is a great building that mixes materials and forms to create an iconic space in the community, and is certainly themed architecture. Notice the street signs. ”¦ There are three of them in the photo. Yet they almost disappear by utilizing a consistent color for all the poles, brackets, and backs of the signs. The designers chose a subdued green color to blend into the surroundings and reduce visual clutter, so that the view of the building is the star of the show and the signs take a back seat. A subtle but superb detail!
What is the star of your views on Main Street? What subtle changes can be made with similar impact?