Thanks to some satellite pictures of housing developments—many of them unfinished—in Florida and a coincidental link at Daring Fireball, I have re-visited a post from 2006 about Walt’s film pitch for EPCOT.
I have to say, the mixed-use phenomenon has grown out of control in the last 4½ years. Since The Grove, an incredible number of mixed-use projects have been finished. The Americana in Glendale, by the same folks who did The Grove, is truly mixed-use, with living space above the actual mall, overlooking it.
Then there’s City Center in Vegas, which I just visited last week. It’s a sprawling mix of hotels, condos, office buildings, shops, galleries, and, of course, casinos.
The problem with every single one of these developments is their lack of integration into the surrounding environment. I don’t mean visually, but practically. In L.A., these large developments have not properly taken into account the impact of their presence on the rest of the city around them. Traffic is worse, parking is impossible (unless you want to shell out cash, which is like being robbed), crowds get unbearable. Part of EPCOT’s purpose was an attempt to harmonize the mess of traffic and congestion that is a city. Some people love the cacophony of a messy, crowded, traffic-jammed city. I’m thinking New York, Chicago… I don’t know a single person who likes the congestion and traffic of Los Angeles. Maybe because the city’s soul seems to spring from this source. L.A. is defined by it’s clogged arteries. How tragic.
Again, a 100% planned city is a bit creepy and strange, but maybe that’s because no one’s yet done it correctly. I’m not a fan of any of these mixed-use monstrosities that have sprouted lately, and I’d rather sleep under my office desk every night than go home to a condo over a Lululemon. Such places are built solely for commercial reasons, with no thought to, as Walt said, “the public need.” No one needs The Americana or City Center. They solve no problems. But EPCOT, had it grown into something like Walt pitched in that movie, might have drawn my interest. Maybe it would have succeeded, and been an inspiring mix of technology, progress, and design.
Maybe. Who knows? But the thought of it is still exciting to ponder.
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