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23

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If you ask me, Seaside, architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk’s early-’80s beach-front prefab community on the Florida Panhandle, is clapboard claptrap. Following a building code of Hammurabi-esque exhaustiveness, Seaside’s brand of New Urbanism looks more like New Kitsch: shiny tin-roofed houses with mandated picket fences sprouting around a neotraditional town plan. Of course, although I don’t agree with the architects’ aesthetic choices, I will grudgingly admit solidarity with their purpose—getting folks out of their cars and onto the sidewalk. I find myself cheering the duo’s new book, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, a manifesto railing against McMansions, “gated pods,” and the continued Balkanization of the suburbs, which the authors argue is the result of preindustrial zoning regulations. Now if only they’d lose that board-and-batten dreck. Duany lectures on “The New Urbanism” and signs copies of Suburban Nation at 6:30 p.m. at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $16. For reservations call (202) 272-2448. (Jessica Dawson)