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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The planned community that never happened



   As Columbia gets ready to celebrate our 50th Anniversary in 2017 it is always interesting to look at other planned communities around the country.  The 1960's and 1970's were a time of urban renewal and planned communities.  This was a response to the concern that the unplanned suburban sprawl that happened in the 1950's was not the way for new housing growth.  Developers were more interested in packing as many homes into available land without concern for the quality of life in these new communities.  Congestion and visual blight were the feared outcomes.
     Some communities such as Columbia had visionary developers who saw a better path to having sustainable growth with built in features that reflected the needs of their residences.  One of these planned communities never developed as their visionary leader wanted.  The place was EPCOT.  What it not realized that Walt Disney's original plan for a development in Florida was to design a "community for the future."   The picture above is one rendition of what that EPCOT community would look like.  The design was one of a wheel with spokes out from the urban hub in the center.  Residents of EPCOT would be limited to those working in the community.
       Walt Disney had a hard time selling the idea of EPCOT to his corporate board who saw this experimental city as a huge risk financially.  They only accepted the idea of a modified idea for EPCOT after Disney agreed to first build a second, larger Disneyland as part of the plans for the Florida site.  Further the EPCOT community would take on an educational/amusement direction instead of being a real community with residents living there.  The World Showcase section was added to be a permanent World's Fair addition.  For a look at the plans for EPCOT that were discarded in favor of what we have today here is the link to Disney's original plan.   As visionary as Disney was he was never able to bring his vision to reality.   His death in 1966 was probably the main reason that his vision was stillborn.  Fortunately for us Rouse lived long enough to bring his vision to fruition.  Visionaries are never able to bring all aspects of their vision to fruition but without a vision communities can quickly fall into a "cookie cutter " reality.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you want to see what became of Disney's "community" plans, visit Celebration, FL. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebration,_Florida

Although Disney no longer owns/controls Celebration, it's an interesting place.

duanestclair said...

The one feature in Celebration that is missing in its design is affordable housing. I know that Columbia is also an expensive place to live but at least there is a discussion about the need to have some affordable housing.