Architecture and town planning firm, United States
The firm of Duany and Plater-Zyberk and Company (DPZ) was formed in 1980. They
have designed a number of award-winning, internationally published buildings that
explore the transformation of local building tradition through classical systems of order.
Their early Key Biscayne houses—Hibiscus (1981), De la Cruz (1983), Vilanova
(1985)—and commercial buildings, such as Galen Medical (1983), in Boca Raton, reflect
the grounding of abstract principles of architectural ordering borrowed from Le
Corbusier’s evolutionary theories of modernism as derived from classicism.
As architecture students at Yale University in the early 1970s, Andrés Duany and
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk absorbed the university’s eclectic approach to the study of
architecture with a growing emphasis on the craft-based tradition of building exemplified
in early America’s vernacular architecture. The theories of Vincent Scully, who decried
the fierce effects of urban redevelopment schemes and proposed a view of architecture
Entries A–F 701
that included reconsideration of the traditional language of construction, laid the
groundwork for what would become the DPZ practice.
Duany and Plater-Zyberk joined the architecture faculty of the University of Miami in
1974 and 1979, respectively. Their dual commitment to architecture education and
practice established their methods of working. Léon and Rob Krier, along with Colin
Rowe, were among the leading theorists who inspired the firm’s expansion of an
architectural method to the design of neighborhoods and the development of plans for
towns and cities and laid the foundation for an approach to town planning that is
architecturally conceived. The first town design (Seaside, 1979, on Florida’s panhandle)
was an experiment in establishing specifically designed spaces that ensure urbanity
through ordinance. DPZ’s subsequent Traditional Neighborhood Development Ordinance
further codified the process of translating physical design to legal prescriptions for land
use, allocation, and regulation. The textual and graphic codes of the ordinance establish
the regulating plan; urban, architectural, and landscape regulations; and street type.
Beginning in Seaside, DPZ generally exempts public buildings from such regulations to
distinguish civic monument from domestic and commercial fabric. DPZ moved from
new-town design to improvements in existing communities with an emphasis on
reinforcing neighborhood identity and ensuring physical predictability through ordinance.
In 1988, Duany and Plater-Zyberk founded what is now the Town Design program at
the University of Miami to actively engage and train graduate students in the process of
designing and building towns and communities. Duany and Plater-Zyberk, with faculty
and practitioners from across the nation, cofounded the Congress for the New Urbanism
(CNU), which expands the pioneering work of the founders from an initial academic
inquiry into a national movement for urban reform. The CNU advocates the development
and redevelopment of towns and cities through a cohesive effort marked by a
coordination of architecture and infrastructure with environmental, social, and economic
Moreover, the architects have focused on buildings that enhance community. DPZ has
engaged inner-city building with Florida projects such as the Mission San Juan Bautista
(1996), a small mission church in Wynwood; La Estancia (1997), a migrant workers’
housing complex in Tampa; and the DPZ office (1990) near Miami’s Calle Ocho. Public
projects such as the Florida City Civic Complex (1996), done with Lidia Abello and
Derrick Smith, directly address issues of urbanism and use formal properties of space and
light to demonstrate civic principles, as in the linkage of the main hall’s skylight
illumination of the interior with the action of a government in the “sunshine,” Florida’s
law that mandates that all discussions of public officials on public issues be held with
appropriate notice and in a public forum.
Concepts of urbanism rooted in local tradition are at the foundation of
DPZ’s urban design projects around the world, including the development
of Kemer Village (1992) in Istanbul, Turkey, and Dos Rios (Manila, 1999)
in the Philippines. Consistency of materials, structure, organizing devices,
and use of local traditions gives DPZ’s architecture a close and specific
association with the conditions of the site, first as a historic, cultural
entity, then as an environmental and social ecology, and then as an
architectural continuum. The buildings and urban projects demonstrate DPZ’s central philosophy, which values architecture as the agent of
community and as essential to a civil society.

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