Vernacular Architecture and Smart Planning Bring Huge Returns to The Waters

The incredibly ambitious, experimental, master-planned community of The Waters, located in Pike Road, Alabama, has brought incredible returns to this formerly tiny suburb of Montgomery. Built along Cameron Lake, a 200-acre manmade water recreation area, The Waters’ experimentation with architectural design, mixed zoning, and a wide range of housing costs has already produced fantastic results. The latest coup for The Waters development team is the Pike Road school district’s decision to locate a new school near the community.

One key to the wild success of The Waters is that the architectural design of the community is based on the Alabama’s vernacular architecture. There are no mock villas and palazzos, or sprawling pseudo-adobe pueblos, or “traditional English cottages.” Instead, builders are using the visually distinct, traditional housing style that is unique to the Alabama region as the design palette for the town that looks like the quintessential Southern town.

This is in large part due to Town Architect Steve Mouzon’s belief that “whenever you go to a great place, it doesn’t have every style in the world, it has an architecture of that place… The greater the place, the easier you can nail down the architecture to a very small window on planet earth as to where it is. That is a characteristic of greatness — you might say it’s the gateway to greatness.”

Mouzon notes that each of the local builders brought on board share the same design principles, which helps make the town visually striking. “I can pull anyone off a scaffold,” Mouzon explains, “and they can tell you a shocking amount of information about architecture and why they do what they do.”

This emphasis on tradition in design is combined with a cutting-edge approach to mixed accommodation types that include one-bedroom homes and live-work units as well as multi-family condos and single-family homes located near retail, restaurants, and other commercial businesses. The town is thriving on local trade, which Mouzon finds impressive because, “There are 100 rooftops supporting 10,000 square feet of commercial…Conventional wisdom says it takes 1,000 rooftops to support a corner store. We have one-tenth that many supporting 10,000 square feet (six businesses) on the ground floor.”

The Waters offers stunning amenities, such as a large saltwater pool, lighted tennis and basketball courts, and a community pavilion with meeting house and grilling stations, a playground, a dog park and parkland trails. The town also offers world-class fishing on Cameron Lake, which features a marina and courtesy access to kayaks, piers, fishing boats, canoes, beaches, and a cruise boat. Construction is slated to continue through spring of 2015.

Comments are closed.