By Carolyn Weber.

2002 Walk-Through

By the book: Every municipality in America has jumped onto the neo-traditional bandwagon, and many are starting to develop strict guidelines and pattern books for builders. So it's goodbye to the old standby plans, and hello to a whole new way of thinking, designing, and building.

International influences: Clean, modern, minimalist concepts from Japan and Scandinavia will continue to influence home furnishings, appliances, interior design, and eventually housing design. Also, commercial products, long popular in Europe, are beginning to infiltrate the residential market.

Standing tall: Land prices in desirable locations will force builders to make due with much smaller lots than they're used to. The space solution is to go vertical, building as many as four floors and offering elevator options and decked-out roof terraces complete with gardens.

Quality counts: Builders and architects are using quality products in innovative ways. In particular, combining surfaces to create unique treatments such as metals mixed with stone, especially in kitchens and baths. In addition, buyers are opting for more personal spaces done on an intimate scale with lower plate lines. The era of blown-out volume space is over; instead, people want rooms with personality.

Outta sight: Garages are getting back to where they once belonged. It's not enough to mitigate their impact on the streetscape. Builders and architects have found ways--through turn-in configurations and porte cocheres--to get them off the street altogether.

One of the year's most innovative projects, Prospect New Town, in Longmont, Colo., combines several of the latest design concepts. The community has a traditional New Urbanist site plan but the architecture is crisp, bright, and modern. How dense can you get?: High density is coming on strong. Builders are achieving huge density with multifamily projects, and clever duplexes, triplexes, and four-plexs that read like single-family homes. Clusters are back, with a vengeance.

Inside and Out

Here are stand-out examples for marketing and advertising from inside and outside the housing industry.

By Christina B. Farnsworth

The Woodlands. The Houston community promoted its new commuter canal with a blue fluid-filled binder and CD holder. It stays top of mind and top of pile--though recipients have been a little nervous that it might leak, it hasn't yet.

Nike. "Just do it." These targeted Gen-X television ads are edgy, black-and-white, cinema-veriteacute;-style ads that tell a story without dialogue. It's the swoosh logo that identifies it as Nike. And the catch phrase shows up only in print under the logo at the end of the ad along with the newer phrase, "Play the Game." In addition, Nike's Web site creates community with headings such as Niketown for merchandise and Nike Goddess, Nike's shop for women.

Photo: Charlie Brown

At Target the logo rules. Target's trademarked bulls eye punctuates rhythmic, colorful, kicky, funky, hip ads that tell a story pitched to Gen Y. Target, experts say, rules retail. Sales are holding their own in a year that saw rival K-Mart hit the skids. Fiscal 2001 profits exceeded rival Wal-Mart. Outfit your scene (also, at Target). Famous designer mix-and-match duds and gear. Michael Graves' teapots, toasters, blenders, spatulas, etc. Todd Oldman's dorm-room collection of bedding, dishes (replete with summer-vacation box), and an extra-loud alarm clock guaranteed to survive when thrown against a wall. Oh, sure, the television ads feature little Todd and reference his grandmother but we know who they really want--teens and college students.

The Ford Thunderbird and the Austin Mini-Cooper by BMW. These two car models had long waiting lists even before release and are sold out, because the retro-car craze is so big this year. Otherwise car sales are down by roughly 10 percent from last year