Editor’s note: While Harold Bubil takes some time off, we’ll reprise some of his popular columns. This column originally ran on April, 14, 2019

I am consistently bemused by the thinking, especially among city planners and officials, that new buildings should conform architecturally “with the neighborhood.”

As examples, I present:

Item 1: The Herald-Tribune’s Dale White reported that the City of Bradenton is looking to sell 8 lots in the historic Wares Creek area, with the stipulation that they be developed by builders who will design new houses that adhere to the city’s “form-based code.” In this case, that would be the “craftsman” architecture that was prevalent in the neighborhood a century ago.

Item 2: A week ago, I wrote about the new Venice public library, which, I reported, employs a restrained version of the Northern Italian/Mediterranean Revival architecture for which downtown Venice is not only known, but requires. A reader responded, “The architecture and style do fit right in. I have always enjoyed the beauty of the entire campus, including the Art Center and Community Building. Why didn't they make the color of the library the same as the other beautiful buildings? To me, the color of the library sticks out and does not blend in.”

Item 3: While leading an architectural trolley tour recently, I was asked by a tour-goer why the progressive new buildings on the Ringling College campus — the Goldstein Library and the Basch Visual Arts Center — don’t look like the older buildings nearby, particularly the Keating Center, which was built as a Mediterranean Revival-style hotel in the 1920s and became the campus’ first building in 1931.

All three of these items have a common thread — the belief that the past should be repeated.

Must we do that?

I love vintage houses; I live in one. But I prefer my historic houses to be historic, not historicist. In my “Florida Buildings I Love” series in the Saturday Real Estate section, I have honored many Mediterranean Revival buildings from the 1920s — but none from the recent past, which represent a revival of a revival.

I also don’t have a problem with building codes, as long as they serve to regulate what kinds of buildings can be built in a particular zone, as well as lot setbacks and building heights. The Supreme Court supported the then-new concept of building codes in 1926.

And I don’t have a problem with design requirements, dictating architectural language, color and the like, in master-planned or deed-restricted communities, or for the renovation of designated historic properties. The key is the property owners’ choice to buy in restricted neighborhoods.

But I do have a problem with regulating architectural styles in most other cases. The community’s architectural heritage should not, by government rule, be muddled with “throwback” designs that take away personal choice.

Let today’s architects design for today. Let the builders build what their markets demand; if that is “craftsman,” fine. Choice.

As for the Venice library, it is white, while the nearby existing buildings are a shade of beige. Not that big of a difference, and not out of place.

It has long been my design philosophy that it is neither necessary nor wise to duplicate past styles when building near or adding to historic structures. Buildings tell the story of the community in which they stand. Is it smart to copy and paste Chapter 2 to the current end of the book? Should the story be repeated, confusing the historical context with sameness?

Variety — in color and style — makes for exciting built environments. Miami, Sarasota and Punta Gorda come to mind. Sameness makes for Celebration or Seaside — communities that, while handsome, were invented and contrived, not the products of evolution over many decades.