When Mediterranean McMansions threaten the local architecture

An article about local Tampa architecture notes McMansions might define the city’s structures:

When one thinks of Florida architecture, if one thinks of Florida architecture, Disney World might come to mind. Or the ubiquitous Mediterranean McMansion in a gated golf-course community. Or the art deco hotels of Miami Beach.

Tampa architecture? Not so much. But there is more to the Cigar City than the iconic University of Tampa, the Museum of Science and Industry and some glass bank towers.

Tampa architecture, says John Howey, FAIA, himself one of the city’s architectural grand guard, is like Cuban bread, the kind served at the city’s landmark Columbia restaurant…

To summarize his city’s architecture, Howey returned to the Spanish/Cuban food analogy.

“It is so like paella,” said Howey. “When you put it all together, it is very tasty. Taken separately, you would think they would clash.”

My take on reading this article is that Tampa doesn’t have much of a unifying architecture style outside of some modernist structures. Perhaps this is because it is a relatively recent big city; it’s biggest growth period was from 1950 to 1960 when the population increased from 124,861 to 274,970.

Two thoughts:

1. What would it take to give a city like Tampa its own style? Could it be done through constructing key buildings, like civic institutions, in a particular style? Would it require a number of architects banding together? Styles don’t just come out of nowhere.

2. New Urbanists often argue that their developments should be based on local styles. Would they adopt a more generic Southern style in Tampa or perhaps a beach house type of design?

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