AT FIRST, IT COMES AS A BIT OF A surprise to see Key West/St. Augustine, Fla.–style architecture in a North Orange County, Calif., community. But given the parameters that the builder and architects had to work within, the off-beat design direction turned out to be a good path to follow.

Alley-loaded garages and four-sided architecture were city-mandated requirements, so the signature porch elements, balcony detailing, board-and-batten siding, and exposed rafter tails go a long way toward adding interest all around. Another design challenge came from the 35-by-73-foot lots, the smallest in this three-neighborhood community. At 2,613 square feet, the biggest plan is almost as large as the entire, 2,773-square-foot lot.

The homogeneous, coastal-Florida style helps give the neighborhood a stronger read, breaking down density for a softer, livelier street scene. The judges especially appreciated how the street pattern “placed all of the homes within a short walk of the parks and limited the street scenes to relatively short vistas.”

Will Hare Jr.

Award: Best residential detached project—8 du/acre or more; Builder: Centex Homes, Irvine, Calif.; Architect: Bassenian/Lagoni Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.