Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Wizarding World" Outshines Suburbia

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry--The first "high school" in Orange County in many years geared to pedestrians, without a massive parking lot in front and blank wall architecture.  

Olympia High School.  The dismal setting awaiting thousands of Orange County teens in August.  Blank walls, conducive to crime, require that we surround our high schools with guard houses and chain link fences.    

Village of Hogsmeade at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Numerous windows provide "eyes on the street" and a feeling of comfort, even though no one truly lives above the shops.   Universal pulled the buildings to the street to give architectural definition.    

Back to reality...single use, mostly windowless, massive (half empty) parking lot development required and encouraged by our zoning laws.  Development similar to the Village of Hogsmeade is illegal under the Orange County Code, without obtaining numerous variances.   

The New York Times reported one 21 year old Wizarding World visitor giving a "tearful admission" that, “I really wanted to live here; it was so much better than our real lives.”  It's sad commentary about our built environment when, to find authentic places, we must go to a theme park.