Shearwater community wins five prestigious design and construction awards

Shearwater, the new master-planned residential community on County Road 210, was recently honored with four Aurora Awards for design by the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) and the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC), as well as a 2017 Excellence in Construction Award by the Florida First Coast Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC). These five industry-leading accolades celebrate Shearwater’s purposely-designed and crafted 1,500-acre community that has become the fastest growing community in St. Johns County. 

Developed by Freehold Communities, Shearwater was designed to promote healthy living, community engagement and a connection to the outdoors. Freehold worked with well-known Northeast Florida companies to bring its vision for an immersive lifestyle community to life. Jacksonville-based planning and architecture firm, ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller (ELM), was Shearwater’s community master planner, amenity architect, and community landscape architect. As the project amenities and hardscape contractor, Dicky Smith & Co. (DSC) built the 12.5-acre amenity center, neighborhood entrances and parks. Ansana Interior Design provided interior design services for the community amenities.

“We are very excited that Shearwater was recognized for excellence in construction, planning and design by local industry professionals,” said Suzanne Maddalon, Vice President, Freehold Communities. “As with all of our properties, Freehold Communities focuses on working with quality partners, such as ELM, DSC and Ansana Interior Design to create a truly unique community that offers natural beauty and timeless designs.” 

Aurora Awards

The prestigious Aurora Awards are presented annually by the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) and the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) to recognize excellence in planning, design, and construction in projects across the southeastern United States and the Eastern Caribbean.  Shearwater’s overall masterplan concept took home two Aurora Awards in the Residential Housing Community of the Year category for Masterplan and Best Community Site Plan. Shearwater’s impressive Kayak Club amenity center – which just celebrated its one-year anniversary of its grand opening – won two Aurora Awards: Best Recreational Facility and Best Interior Merchandising – Community Amenity or Clubhouse. ELM purposely designed the Kayak Club as the civic heart of the community, providing 6,800 sq. ft. of recreation space with indoor and outdoor gathering areas and event venues for residents to enjoy community activities.

“Shearwater represents a unique commitment to outdoor recreation, nature, wellness, and quality of life that is reflected throughout the community but is especially evident in the design of the central recreational center, the Kayak Club. This recreational and community hub was designed to offer residents a high-quality social, aquatics, fitness, play, and tennis experience. It is linked through a network of trails and open spaces to parks integrated throughout the community, offering tot-lots, picnic areas, dog parks, creekfront overlooks, and a kayak and canoe launch on Trout Creek,” said Steve Lovett, ELM Principal and lead designer for Shearwater.

Excellence in Construction Eagle Award

Shearwater was also recognized with a 2017 Excellence in Construction Eagle Award by ABC’s First Coast Florida Chapter. ABC is the premier trade organization for specialty builders and its Excellence in Construction Award honors outstanding contractors for high-quality construction projects. Shearwater’s expansive Kayak Club Amenity Center, entry ways and hardscapes won the Eagle Award for the Commercial Construction Category for $5-$10 million projects. As the project’s general and specialty contractor, DSC collaborated with Freehold and ELM to build out the commercial portion of Shearwater – from the specialty-designed main entrance water feature to the resort-style Kayak Club Amenity Center, which includes an oversized fitness lodge, multiple pools and tennis courts.

“Dicky Smith & Co. was honored to be recognized in this year’s ABC Excellence in Construction awards,” said Stuart Maxwell, vice president, Dicky Smith & Co. “Shearwater is an amazing, one-of-a-kind project that provided our company with a unique opportunity and challenge to demonstrate to our clients and industry peers what our dedicated and experienced team can do.”

TrailMark wins two Excel Awards

GreenPointe Communities, LLC recently won two Excel Awards from the Florida Homebuilders Association for the Best Newspaper Advertisement and the Best Billboard showcasing their ELM-designed TrailMark community.

The billboard campaign showcases TrailMark’s relationship with nature and recreation with a twist. The billboard links these moments with a title that’s a take on how busy people connect via technology (Instant Messaging, Group Chat and Livestreaming), demonstrating the beauty and value of slowing down and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle offered at TrailMark.

ELM provided comprehensive community master planning and recreational trail design for the 1,300-acre TrailMark single-family residential neighborhood situated among the waterways and lakes created by Six Mile Creek.

The ELM design team also provided architectural and landscape architectural services for the 7,400-square-foot outdoor-inspired amenities and welcome center that serves as the central social and recreational hub of the community.

The Excel Awards honors those builders, commercial contractors, craftsman, Realtors®, on-site salespeople, public relations professionals, associate/supplier, media and advertising professionals who make major contributions to the residential home building and commercial construction industry through superior, innovative and creative sales and marketing. 

Graphics courtesy of What’s Up Jacksonville.

Couple renews wedding vows in new ELM-designed underwater San Diego Zoo exhibit

With penguins and leopard sharks swimming beside them, a San Diego couple renewed their vows at an underwater wedding ceremony Wednesday, inside the Africa Rocks Penguin Pool exhibit, according to San Diego Zoo Global and NBC San Diego.

ELM's Seattle studio, ELM Environments, together with Miller Hull Partnership & Quince Farm Studios, designed the San Diego Zoo's 8.5-acre $68.3-million Africa Rocks project featuring this new shark and penguin habitat modeled after the Fynbos ecoregion located along the Western Cape of South Africa.

This phase opened July 3 and was the largest attendance day in San Diego Zoo's history. The rest of the project will be opening in phases as summer progresses.

Click below for the video of the ceremony and new Penguin Pool exhibit.

New Africa Rocks penguin and shark pool marks a “first” for the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo has been home to hundreds of species of animals in its 101-year history. However, when 12 leopard sharks began moving into the all-new ELM-designed Africa Rocks (June 28, 2017), it marked the first time the Zoo has ever displayed sharks.

The 12 leopard sharks were introduced into their new 200,000-gallon seawater pool, where they met their new pool mates: 20 African penguins.

The Cape Fynbos penguin habitat in Africa Rocks features a cobblestone beach surface, penguin nesting areas and rockwork that mimics the granite boulders found at Boulders Beach in South Africa. The 70-foot-long and 10-foot-wide habitat includes a 200,000-gallon pool that stretches 170 feet, with depths up to 13 feet.

ELM's Seattle studio, ELM Environments, together with Miller Hull Partnership & Quince Farm Studios, designed the San Diego Zoo's 8.5-acre $68.3-million Africa Rocks project featuring this new shark and penguin habitat modeled after the Fynbos ecoregion located along the Western Cape of South Africa.

ELM Marketing Manager graduates from ULI Women’s Leadership Development Institute

Graduates are, from left, first row: Sarah Vidal-Finn, Gainesville CRA;  Jami Houston, Ervin Lovett Miller;  Autumn Martinage, city of Jacksonville;  second row: Melanie Kleehammer, Haskell; Rebecca Price, England-Thims & Miller; Suzanne Cortina, Meskel & Associates Engineering; third row: Lauren Langham, Smith, Hulsey & Busey; Hannah King, ULI North Florida; Amber Labagh, Haskell; top row: Holly Grimes, Wakefield Beasley & Associates; Jessica Hurst, Regency Centers; Sarah King, Prosser; and Meghan Dones, Regency Centers.

Jami Houston, ELM’s Marketing Manager, recently graduated from the Women’s Leadership Development Institute (WLDI) hosted by ULI (Urban Land Institute) North Florida.

WLDI is a program where up to 15 women complete a course of eight modules in five months. They have the opportunity to network with colleagues from different disciplines in real estate in a collaborative learning environment while interacting with (male and female) local business leaders, public officials, and national experts.

The WLDI module topics include: Leadership, Management, Team Building, Practical Leadership & Time Management, Effective Communication, Networking, Work/Life Balance, Negotiation, Assertiveness & Conflict Resolution, and Building Healthy Places in Real Estate.

The Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) was launched by ULI, nationally, in early 2012, with the mission of raising the visibility and number of women leaders in ULI and the real estate industry. The WLI committee for the ULI North Florida District Council delivers programs to help achieve the following objectives:

  • Promote the advancement of women, throughout their careers, as leaders in the real estate industry.
  • Increase the number of women who serve in leadership positions in the real estate industry and in ULI.
  • Increase the visibility of women leaders in the real estate industry and in ULI.
  • Increase the number of women who are active ULI Full members, and support the development of young women members as leaders in ULI and in their professions.

Click to view article in Jax Daily Record


San Diego Zoo welcomes African Penguins as first residents in ELM-designed Africa Rocks exhibit

It’s a monumental week for African penguins at the San Diego Zoo. Animal care staff began the birds’ gradual introduction to their new Cape Fynbos habitat in the soon-to-open Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks.

The new ELM-designed Cape Fynbos penguin habitat in Africa Rocks features a cobblestone beach surface, penguin nesting areas and rockwork that mimics the granite boulders found at Boulders Beach in South Africa. The 70-foot-long and 10-foot-wide habitat also includes a 200,000-gallon pool for the penguins that stretches 170 feet, with depths up to 13 feet. It is the largest penguin habitat in the Zoo’s history.

Visitors to the San Diego Zoo can see the new colony of African penguins when the Cape Fynbos habitat at Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks opens on July 1, 2017.

A first for the San Diego Zoo: Divers training to care for an underwater habitat where penguins steal the show

As construction continues on the San Diego Zoo’s 8.5-acre, $68.3-million Africa Rocks project, the zoo is preparing its staff to care for these unique new features such as the 200,000-gallon seawater pool that will soon be home to 20 African penguins, as well as a variety of fish and bottom-dwelling California leopard sharks.

For the first time in its history, the San Diego Zoo now has an underwater dive team. All of the divers will be able to closely inspect the exhibit, move sharks into their holding pool for exams or observation, perform regular visual exams, and act quickly to take care of any medical or behavioral needs.

These important considerations for animal caretakers and zoo staff, as well as the animals themselves and visitors, were a critical part of ELM’s design for each exhibit within Africa Rocks as the team worked with Miller-Hull Partnership and Quince Farm Studios on this historic project.

Arbor Grande celebrates completion of ELM-designed amenities


Arbor Grande

Ribbon Cutting: ELM-Designed Amenities

CalAtlantic Homes recently hosted a Ribbon Cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the ELM-designed amenity at Arbor Grande, a private, gated community within Lakewood Ranch, the nation’s 4th-fastest selling community located near Sarasota, Florida. 

Classically tailored to celebrate Florida’s outdoor lifestyle, the amenities at Arbor Grande reflect the community’s casual “front porch” way of life.

Arbor Grande Featuring 305 homes, including villas and single family homes, Arbor Grande residents celebrate Florida’s desirable outdoor lifestyle with two spectacular amenities that include a 7,000-sq-ft community clubhouse and fitness center, two resort-style pools with fountains and beach entries, outdoor pavilions, event lawns, dog parks, as well as a trails linking the community’s homesites to a major regional park.

ELM completed the community master plan, orienting homesites and common areas toward spectacular natural edges and committing nearly one-third of the property to ponds, parks, and landscape spaces added to enhance the outdoor living aspect for residents living in this community.

ELM Principal Russ Ervin Presents at ULI Florida Summit

Russell Ervin, LEED AP

Russell Ervin, LEED AP

Russ Ervin, one of ELM’s founding principals, was asked to speak on a panel at the 2017 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Florida Summit in Tampa, Florida. The session focused on evolving generational preferences and attitudes toward work, lifestyle and housing. The topic explored innovative design solutions that use the built environment to successfully integrate the changing needs and desires of multiple generations living within the same community.

Drawing on years of experience with retail/commercial redevelopment projects such as Sawgrass Village and new construction like Durbin Park, Russ was asked to provide a unique design perspective on how developers are rethinking the traditional shopping center. He highlighted the industry trends that are now moving more toward an entertainment-based model that prioritizes the visitor experience above all else, incorporating an active walkable lifestyle with easy access to shopping, services, healthcare, and entertainment.

The discussion also focused on multi-generational design within master planned communities and the amenities that serve as their social and recreational hub, a niche that ELM has been active in throughout the firm’s 16-year history. According to Russ, a well-designed amenity lays the foundation for inspiring social engagement and creating a sense of community for residents of all ages.

Other panelists included Diane Trees, Director, Metropolitan Center for Regional Studies, University of Central Florida, and Debra Wyatte, Vice President Lifestyle Services, CCMC

ULI Florida Summit

The annual ULI Florida Summit connects the top real estate professionals from throughout the state including developers, attorneys, engineers, architects, and land use planners, from both the private and public sector. From keynote addresses to conference sessions, the Summit focuses on today’s changing markets, trends, and opportunities, and features leading industry professionals. More than 700 ULI members and non-members who are interested in the progress and prosperity of Florida convene at the annual statewide Summit. It is hosted and produced jointly by the five ULI District Councils of Florida.


Presentation Excerpts

Sawgrass Village Case Study

Westminster Oaks breaks ground on ELM-designed senior living apartments

Canopy Oaks

Ground Breaking: ELM-Designed Senior Living Apartments

Recently, Westminster Communities of Florida broke ground on the ELM-designed Canopy Oaks four-story apartment building and adjacent parking garage. This new facility is adding 40 apartments to the 90-acre active senior living community at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee, Florida, making it the largest single project the Westminster Oaks history.

ELM provided master planning, architectural, landscape architectural, project visioning and theming, and community engagement services for Canopy Oaks.

Westminster broke ground in May 2017 on this new $14-million expansion project that includes the 75,000-sq-ft multifamily facility, anchored by amenities including a 4,400-sq-ft fitness center, swimming pool, tennis court, and trails branching out throughout the grounds.

A 375-space garage is also under construction to provide ample parking for residents and visitors as well as a safe, enjoyable subterranean climate-controlled walkway connecting the garage to the onsite Maguire Center for Life Learning.