The University Press of Florida has agreed to publish my new book, Epitome Districts of Florida – Places with Soul. An early manuscript was released to them last year and UPF has found the project to be of merit. The book is expected to be released in 2014.
This book is the end of a long road and the beginning of a new one. The ending, or culmination, is a recognition of a certain thought pattern or trajectory of thinking that has led me to become increasingly convinced of a point of view. In this book, I shall set forth a hypothesis about how our cities concretize the phenomenon of soul. I shall then journey to as many of these places as I can throughout Florida, from Pensacola to Coral Gables, and document where these “glowing threads” lie.
The book will use this research to illuminate places where sidewalk life and neighborhoods are flourishing. In contrast to the current hand-wringing literature about our cities, this book will instead point out where mixed-use districts thrive and sustain themselves. They will be in unexpected places.
Originally, I drew some conclusions about the urban form of these places from four Central Florida districts and one far outside Central Florida – the North End of Boston. I used the North End because it was well-documented in two important books published in 1960 and 1961 about urban form, and it was worth revisiting this place to see how it has fared. What was written about this district 53 years ago is highly applicable to what I intend to write about here in Florida.
As far as I know, no other book has attempted this approach. While many books have set forth long, complex theories and rules fabricated around some of our best-loved villages and towns, these books urge city planners, designers, and developers to mimic surface form with the hope that function will follow. The old adage “form follows function” is therefore turned on its head as if function will follow form. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
Instead, this book will urge city planners, designers, and developers – and frankly, anyone interested in how we live and work together – to regain respect for places that have been built over time and have a number of other characteristics that are completely missing from the current wave of frankencities that have been recently thrown up.
Formulating this book will require road trips and much work that I hope to share, bit by bit, on this website. Comments are invited and would be welcome to help direct me to places in Florida that fit this description; as well, I would appreciate anyone who can help me filter out the posers and wannabes.
I’ll be posting periodically on Twitter @rtreep – you can see the journey unfold here.
All the best,