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Founder - One Mans's Determination

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Creating an authentic sense of place most often involves a conscious decision to do so. George Gounares, Tannin’s Founder, knew that sense of place was the most important factor in deciding how to develop his 60 acres of unspoiled coastal property. His family had owned one of first beach houses in this area of the Gulf Coast since a time when the area was still rural. Tourists were few, there was no water or telephone or other basic necessities. Yet the area possessed an enchanting quality that others were soon to discover. From the time he was a small boy until he brought his own boys back to the family beach house, he watched the area grow into a bustling beach town.

Determined to create something of real beauty and lasting quality led Gounares to seek an alternative method of developing his property. The search for a plan began in the mid 1980’s. Several architects and planners attempted to design Tannin and many plans were conceived and rejected. Planners at that time were designing maximum density or redundant subdivisions. Some produced tall condominium buildings with a density of 2,000 units. Others produced subdivisions with big looping roads with smaller loops, all with gaping mouths of huge garages. Ultimately the search led to Andres Duany and Elisabeth Plater-Zyberk in Miami, then relatively unknown—now perhaps the most famous and influential architects in the US. While previous planners and architects ridiculed the notion of “sense of place”, Duany said he would not design Tannin unless he could create a sense of place. Gounares knew he had found the right planners.

Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk are now well known for their advocacy of a return to traditional neighborhood planning. This small architectural firm in Miami is acknowledged to have had the largest impact on land planning in the United States. Their designs are widely imitated. They were even included in People magazine’s list of most influential people.

Their goal, Duany has said, is not only to recreate the best elements found in older neighborhoods but also to ensure “that the future is of equal value to the past and that tomorrow’s preservationists have something worth conserving from our own time”.

Their insistence that the “mysterious” charms of the old neighborhoods are not mysterious at all; that they have certain discernible traits can be authentically replicated; and that people living in them can live more fully as a result, has gradually drawn enthusiastic support all over the country and throughout Canada. What started as a simple conviction that there was a better way to live became a far-reaching movement to transform the way new communities were being designed and developed.