I went to MT Laurel (a "new urbanist" development) today to check out their 'town architect.' As he describes it, his job is to make sure all the choir members are singing the same piece of music. In this case, the choir members are houses and the music is "I'm a cute little town." The subject of the lecture was the influence of English Arts & Crafts style on Birmingham's architectural heritage. The reasons for that influence in 1900 are clear, but the reasons to mimic it now are less so. More compelling is the climatic and social sensitivity he talked about in relation to front porches. But, as I walked around, I didn't see a lot of porches that invited relaxation or interaction with the streets. I did admire the effort to preserve or relocate existing trees. My general impression is that the landscape is awkward, but uses great materials while the architecture is competent, but perhaps a bit careless with materials and too cute with paint colors.

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