A row of new houses at Laureate Park near Orlando showcases what could be called a Transitional Modern approach.
Laureate Park Takes Visitors on a Refreshing Ride
Many architects make the pilgrimage to their annual AIA conference to tour inspiring, sometime iconic buildings, neighborhoods, and
communities. High-end architecture dominates. But at this year’s show
in Orlando a new community of inexpensive production homes, with prices
starting in the mid-200,000s, snuck onto the touring agenda. Laureate Park, located within the Lake Nona masterplan
southeast of the city, is one of handful of new communities that emphasize
so-called transitional architecture. The style combines traditional building
forms with modern materials and floor plans. It produces a refreshing,
sometimes whimsical take on familiar forms. Some people find that less jarring
than the stark geometric forms that are integral to modern home design.
Transitional design has quickly become an established part
of one-off custom and house plan designs. But it’s stunning, and educational,
to see an entire community of homes done in this style. Unusual architecture
gives Laureate Park a unique and quirky personality that sets it well apart
from other Orlando neighborhoods. It may not be for everyone. But touring it
presents at least six lessons that could make nearly any home more interesting,
and ultimately more satisfying.Make Wise Use of Color
The first thing visitors notice is the use of complementary
and contrasting colors on many homes. Color is used creatively to accentuate
building forms — porches, bump outs, even entire stories. Color bands make off-the-shelf
windows in standard sizes seem more special. Colorful front doors add punch to
many elevations. Color schemes individualize homes even when similar houses are
built side by side. Color is an inexpensive way to individualize a home. But
using it effectively often requires the assistance of a color design expert.
Pull from a Fresh Bag
The homes at Laureate Park use a host of modern materials — especially
steel, engineered wood, and synthetic siding — to give traditional cottages,
bungalows, and townhomes a fresh appearance. An
unexpected steel I-beam greets
visitors at the front porch of one Ashton Wood model. A curved steel balcony
railing defines the exterior of another house. Engineered wood studs and steel
mesh combine to create a front porch lattice network. The added benefit of many
of these unusual materials is that they require less maintenance than the wood
they replace.Oversize Details to
Make an Impact
Many home designs exaggerate details to emphasize their character.
Oversized porch columns and
overhangs are one example. It’s clear that the many
porch columns, while creative, aren’t decorative – they hold up the roof. Many
homes feature simple, deep eaves accentuated with large brackets. Large
vertical windows reinforce the vertical orientation of one home. Horizontal
awnings above windows and doors emphasize the horizontal aspect of another. By
the same token, simplifying details focuses attention on them. That’s true of
the many undivided lites on windows and doors. Transitional elements add
whimsy, animation, sometimes even humor to the home designs.
Connect Exterior and
Nearly all the homes feature interior spaces that flow
easily into back porches, courtyards, and balconies.
French doors in one David
Weekley model connect the family room to an outdoor living room area replete with a fire pit, barbecue grill, and splash pool. In one Craft Home’s model,
garage doors in the great room
open to an interior courtyard. Second-floor
balconies on either side look down into this ultimate party space.
room on the second floor leads to a large porch, not unlike one you might get
on an urban townhome, with expansive views of most of the community.
Many of the homes repeat key exterior details inside the
home. Corrugated metal adorns both the roof and interior walls. Metal grid
railings used on a porch balcony reappear in the interior stair railing.
Synthetic surfaces or concrete block serve as exterior cladding and interior
walls. Industrial specs inside the home such as gooseneck lighting, metal rod
brackets, or exposed steel beams pick up on a theme established by the
Living walls, indoor herb gardens, and light-infusing glass garage doors literally bring the outside in.Design for Modern
If the homes here feature familiar forms, they incorporate
the latest technology. The community features very high-speed (1 gigabyte)
fiber-optic Internet access. The homes consume 20 percent less energy and water
than building codes require, though some do much better than that. Craft Homes offers
unusual health and wellness features that include hypoallergenic carpets and
air and water purifiers. The community itself features pocket parks, miles of
trails, and access to a resort-style Aquatic Center.
Examples of Transitional style on Houseplans are shown here, clockwise from top left: Plan 497-21
; Plan 132-225
; Plan 23-2308
; and Plan 909-3
Browse a collection of Transitional style plans here.
Boyce is the author of The New New Home
, from Taunton.