Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Progress City – Home Away From Home

The Progress City model had 258 single-family houses.  Originally there were 10 unique designs, in 16 different configurations, created just for the model, but some of them never made the final cut.  Presumably the custom models cost too much, so they were augmented with a number of purchased models.  In the end there were 9 designs, and 21 configurations.  Only 3 of the designs were custom for the model, but they made up 7 of the configuration, and a total of 70 of the houses built.

This is one of the most prominent custom homes.  Most of the structures had interior lighting, and furniture could be seen in some windows.  This house was probably one that had furniture inside, since it was both custom, and had a very large window for viewing.  The A-frame was designed in modules so that the same basic building blocks could be rearranged into 5 different configurations.  A sixth configuration was designed, but not built for the model.  Keeping with the experimental and innovative theme, this house could easily be of modular design and construction.

When it came to building a real city, based upon Walt’s dream, the company couldn’t figure out how to make money on the homes, and how to maintain control over resident voters.

Yet, today Walt Disney World has more than 27,000 guest rooms, spread across 19 resorts and one of the largest concentrations of timeshare units in any one place.  (Some interesting figures, considering that Progress City would only require 8,000 living units to meet its projected population of 20,000.)  The homes for the experimental version of the city could easily have been nightly rentals, or timeshares.  As the city idea was franchised out, the operation could have resembled that of the city of Celebration.  Or, perhaps the company could have simply rented, and not sold the homes, always maintaining control and generating market rate rentals.

It’s too late now.  The housing market across the United States has totally collapsed.  It will be many years before any additional new housing is needed.  By then, the mid-century modern style of Progress City may not be as appealing as it once was.  But for today, the retro styling still inspires the imagination.

1 comment:

  1. Please contact me regarding your drawings for Progress City... Do you have more? Mike