Portofino is eye pleasing

My architect and planner acquaintenances snort in derrision at the “nostalgia” element in new urbanism. I think some of it is jealousy, because they rarely can come up with anything as popular with the public.

I made a point of dropping in on Portofino during the past winter. The one in Florida. Near Universal Studios. Its a resort inspired by / derived from / copied from / a faux version of Portofino, Italy.

The drive in is a masterpiece of view manipulation, compression and release, and successfuly separates the outside Florida from the inside event.





Like all most really good urban places, it was basically car free, once you got to the main entrance, past all the parking lots on the periphery: the cars “illegally” parked around the fountain (just like in Italy !) are bolted to the pavement, just there to add that bit of Roman Holiday romance:



The main portico directs one either into the hotel complex or to the staircase overlooking the piazza and “harbour” below:




Look closely at the “row” of buildings in the photo above, and in the other photos: the row is actually a single building with different façades “drawn onto” the surface. The window patterns vary in size and give the illusion the building floors vary in height [this is something local architects cannot ever seem to do right even when they boast about having varied façades to add interest to the local street they are overwhelming].

There is some three dimensional setbacks in the building front walls, but not much. Mostly, variety  is achieved by paint and texture and window pattern.

IMG_0037IMG_0036The square or piazza has some organizing elements embedded in the pavers:


but the actual amount of landscaping in the village itself was surprisingly restrained. Mostly hardscaping. But very well done.


Several cafes and eateries faced the piazza. Alcohol was [self]served but like elsewhere in Florida, no big fences separate the imbibers from contaminating the public.


The Starbucks (slightly disguised with an Italian flavoured name) offered these small bottles of wine and nice wine glasses to enjoy on the front patio. To the left are single-serve glasses of wine ready to take out. Help yourself.


more tomorrow….


3 thoughts on “Portofino is eye pleasing

  1. It just seems so … phony, and uselessly phony at that. It’s not like the real thing, but it’ just close enough to be creepy. It’s not as if FL doesn’t have a marvelous architectural and design language all it’s own. They don’t have to do a Las Vegas Bellagio like copy of an italian town.

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