On Community: Article in May/June issue of Arbus

ELM Partner Steve Lovett recently contributed to Arbus Magazine's 22nd annual Art and Architecture issue, sharing his thoughts on the intersection of community, design, and architecture here in Jacksonville.

Read on, or flip to page 30 to see what Steve had to say (and see if you can spot our ELM ad!). You can find a free copy of Arbus magazine in various newsstands and locations around Jacksonville! 



By Steve Lovett, ELM ASLA, PLA, LEED AP

This month’s Arbus is the annual architecture edition — celebrating the designers and visionaries who shape Jacksonville’s build environment and landscape. The topic for this year’s Issue is “Community” – an interesting subject because it’s not really about design. It’s about people, right? Groups of people? Why is community relevant to architecture and design, anyhow?

This question reminds me of a conversation I had recently with my daughter, Kayla, who is about to graduate from college with a degree in psychology. We were talking about the culture of our [ELM] office (which is an open, creative space full of collaboration and discussion). Some days, the studio is focused and quiet, other days it’s a riot of music, ideas, laughter, and creativity. I told Kayla that I thought our office would be a great experiment in psychology – thinking of how uniquely I felt our team works together and experiences one another at work. Kayla quickly set me straight, saying, “Dad, EVERYTHING is a great experiment in psychology!”

And so it goes with architecture and design. Sure, the end result of architecture is a building. But the building has a purpose – people use it and interact with it. When we connect the dots, design is about people, a community is made up of people. And, as Kayla reminded me, EVERYTHING is about people.

The term community can be defined in more than one way. Simply, it’s a group of people who basically inhabit the same space. If we think of Jacksonville as a community, it’s made up of a little over a million people within a defined boundary in Northeast Florida.

When this subject was selected, I suspect it was to look at community in a way where design, architecture, art and culture come together. Think of it as an amplified experience of life together. Buildings, parks, concert venues, restaurants, offices, attract people and bring them together – and enhance their experiences with one another. So do natural assets, like the beaches and river. THIS is what community is, and it’s a big, important subject because design, good design, enhances Community, bad design compromises it, and ultimately the creation of community is perhaps the biggest factor in what shapes the quality of life in a community.

Every place is unique to itself and shaped by its own geography, history and sense of community. For instance, Austin and Portland are battling it out to make themselves weird. Nashville celebrates its music. Boston boasts that it’s the most educated city in America. Residents in these places take pride in what community looks like in their city.

It’s encouraging to see how far Jacksonville is coming in creating community. We see it in neighborhoods like Riverside with the Riverside Arts Market. We see it in the new vision for MOSH. We see it in the restoration of the Barnett and Trio buildings in Downtown that will become a catalyst for activity and renewal of the city center. And we see it in emerging projects such as the Springfield Arts District, where the Emerging Design Professionals (EDP) of the Jacksonville Chapter of the AIA sponsored a design competition.

Samantha Wai, an architect with Gresham Smith and Partners and part of the EDP, observes, “I believe with the right people and right ideas in place, an art district in the Phoenix area can make a positive impact on Jacksonville. There is so much hidden talent in this city and a thriving art district can help reveal that talent.”

Jacksonville has come a long way in the past decade. Quality of life is being enhanced through community—with artists and designers leading—for the benefit of everyone.

How ELM is Helping Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach Adapt to Growth and Better Serve the Community

Christ Episcopal Church Garden Chapel Interior

ELM is leading master planning and design efforts for the renovation and facility expansion of Christ Episcopal Church (Christ Church) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Guided in concept and scope to meet the needs of Christ Church’s mission and strategic focus, the project encompasses the planning and design of nearly 42,000 square feet of renovation and new construction. ELM led the design process to most effectively incorporate Christ Church’s desired priorities of environmental awareness, design flexibility and versatility and supporting new and emerging programs. This has been achieved together with the Church’s commitment to be good neighbors by not increasing its footprint or acquiring new property.

Christ Episcopal Church Connections Interior

The project scope includes renovation of aging existing structures, and construction of new facilities to better accommodate new and existing church ministries and community needs. The ELM team centered improvements to the neighborhood church around three strategic focus areas, including addressing the needs of current members, future members, and becoming a pacesetting Episcopal Church.

The existing Christian Family Center will be renovated and repurposed as the new home of the Christ Church Preschool and Early Learning Program, which will accommodate 280 students in 15 classrooms, and include exterior improvements to more safely and efficiently facilitate student drop-off and pickup, a secure outdoor playground area and the latest in technology to address current and potential future program and administrative needs.

Christ Episcopal Church Early Learning Center

ELM designed a new 19,800 sq. ft. Formation and Arts building with classroom, meeting, training, administration, practice and performance spaces to create an inspiring, functional and versatile location for church and community member activities.

The existing administration building will be renovated to house the new Connections Center, which will provide a welcoming space for clergy, staff, visitors, parishioners and volunteers. Additionally, the existing Cooper Chapel has been newly redesigned, and will be expanded to create a more versatile location for worship and small church-related events.

Christ Episcopal Church Garden Chapel

In addition to architectural and major campus layout modifications, ELM’s multidisciplinary design team has designed an enhanced landscape plan to improve wayfinding and create connections between the various buildings. Additions include a garden courtyard throughout the length of the campus, creating a beautiful organizing element within the church campus, and an outdoor gathering area adjacent to the new chapel and the memorial garden.

ELM’s design phase is coming to conclusion next month. Groundbreaking and construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2018, with an estimated completion in January 2020.



Ponte Vedra Recorder

Christ Church Renovation, Expansion to Begin Summer 2018


Erin Weinberg Appointed to Board of the San Marco Preservation Society

ELM’s marketing manager will lend her expertise to support the preservation and renewal of Jacksonville’s historic San Marco neighborhood.

Erin Weinberg, ELM's marketing and public relations manager, has been appointed to the board of the San Marco Preservation Society (SMPS) as of February 2018.

The San Marco Preservation Society was founded in 1975, with the mission of preserving and renewing San Marco as an area of historical and architectural significance for the benefit of local residents and businesses, and the education and enjoyment of visitors and the public at large.

 San Marco Square

San Marco Square

Weinberg, a resident of the historic Jacksonville neighborhood, will be leading the maintenance of the SMPS website, as well as lending her expertise in graphic design and public relations to support the society’s mission, events and community initiatives.

“I am very excited about my involvement with the San Marco Preservation Society as a new board member,” said Weinberg. “San Marco has made me feel welcome since day one, and I’m looking forward to getting to know my neighborhood and neighbors as a more engaged member of the community.”

Weinberg, a native of Stuart, Fla. and recent transplant to Jacksonville, has several years of experience in marketing and public relations for clients in various industries across the southeast U.S., as well as a master’s degree in interior design. She is an active member of the north Florida chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the Junior League of Jacksonville.

Women's Center of Jacksonville Celebrates Ribbon-Cutting


The Women's Center of Jacksonville, a nonprofit founded in 1995 to provide for unmet needs of women in the community, celebrated a ribbon-cutting and open house of the new J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver S.A.F.E. Center, located at 5300 Emerson Street in Jacksonville.

The ELM team helped to enhance and improve the existing building to better allow the organization to serve the community, with the goal of making the facility a model S.A.F.E. center for other Florida counties and nationwide.


Renovations to the healthcare building include improved functionality, finish enhancements, and modernization of fixtures, finishes and equipment to create a better environment for both patients and staff. A new space plan required reconfiguration of interior partition walls, and replacements of various systems inside the building. 

Tim Miller named Partner Emeritus at ELM

The title honors Ervin Lovett Miller’s recently retired partner and memorializes his contributions to the firm.

 ELM Partners Russ Ervin, Tim Miller, and Steve Lovett at Miller's retirement celebration in March.

ELM Partners Russ Ervin, Tim Miller, and Steve Lovett at Miller's retirement celebration in March.

Tim Miller has been named Partner Emeritus of  ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller, following 17 years as one of the firm’s founding partners, together with Russ Ervin and Steve Lovett.

Mr. Miller, a registered architect, retired at the end of March after a 40-year career in Jacksonville, and is currently on a three-month sabbatical. Upon his return this summer, Miller will maintain a consulting role on a part-time basis to serve the firm’s expanding mix of clients and projects and will remain on the firm’s Board of Directors.

The Partner Emeritus title honors Miller’s leadership and contributions to the success of ELM over the past two decades.

“Tim has been a great partner and a strong leader,” said ELM partner Steve Lovett. “His warm outgoing personality and genuine nature helped to make the studio a fun place to work. He is well respected by employees and clients, and we are delighted to recognize Tim in this way, and to preserve his professional legacy.”

Miller received his Bachelor of Design from the University of Florida in 1981, and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Auburn University in 1987. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the San Marco Preservation Society. He served on the City of Jacksonville’s Downtown Development Review Board for eight years, holding the position of Board Chairman for the last two years of his service.

Sarasota Observer: Cove Sculpting an Art Form at Waterside at Lakewood Ranch

ELM partner Steve Lovett recently spoke with the Observer about the unique design opportunities presented by the original site at LakeHouse Cove, one of the newest developments in Waterside at Lakewood Ranch.

Read the full article below!

Sarasota County Observer: Cove Sculpting an Art Form  at Waterside at Lakewood Ranch

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Published by the Sarasota East County Observer
By: Jay Heater, Managing Editor

ELM architects take on serious body of work on the water at Homes by Towne's LakeHouse Cove.

Architect Steve Lovett and his team at ELM (Ervin, Lovett and Miller) had arrived at Waterside at Lakewood Ranch to get their artistic juices flowing.

The Jacksonville firm had been hired by Homes by Towne to build a clubhouse, pool area and boathouse, shape the shoreline of Kingfisher Lake and design a trail system, among other amenities, for the LakeHouse Cove project.

 LakeHouse Cove Site

LakeHouse Cove Site

Now it was time to check out the raw materials just west of Lorraine Road.

"The first time we visited, we knew it was special," said Lovett, who is the lead designer for the project. "We got there about 30 minutes before sunset. We saw the scale of the water and how it is connective. In this case, it was a real lake, a serious body of water about a third of a mile wide and a mile long. Most communities don't offer this kind of opportunity."

Lovett stood at the side of the lake and started to brainstorm. They imagined a pedestrian promenade along the lake, a pool area which would open to a terrific lake view, beautiful landscapes and a functional boathouse for kayaks and canoes.

"We knew this was special," Lovett said. "We watched the sun set and we were thinking, 'We will be back.' It was so naturally beautiful."

But while it was naturally beautiful, a straight-line waterfront wasn't so attractive. ELM figured out a plan to "manipulate" the shoreline of Kingfisher Lake to dig out a cove that formed a semicircle into the area directly in front of the clubhouse with the boathouse and pool area on either side.

 Rendering of the proposed lakefront amenity center (courtesy of Homes by Towne).

Rendering of the proposed lakefront amenity center (courtesy of Homes by Towne).

"We wanted to bring the lake into the community," Lovett said. "When you arrive here, you will be looking down the length of the pool, and you will look across and see this really large lake. It's marvelous, a really special setting."

While ELM had to redesign the lakefront, Lovett said all the best attractions weren't man-made.

"The best design is what you find in existing nature," he said. "You have birds and wildlife and we wanted to capitalize on all of that on a grand scale. That's the beauty of what we do. It can be fun and inspiring, and this is such a nice community." 

He said it was just a matter of celebrating the water and the lake. He also noted "the wonderful trees on the property, and interesting vegetation.

Ground has been broken on the project and Lovett estimated work on the clubhouse and other amenities would be finished late in 2018 although Homes by Towne Vice President Kitt Kearney said it is more likely early to mid 2019.

Homes by Towne has three model homes open in Waterside at Lakewood Ranch and another opening late in April. The community's amenities will be on Kingfisher Lake, but houses will be built on Lake Mallard. Kingfisher Lake also will border the new downtown area, Waterside Place, so those at LakeHouse Cove will be connected by water to the hub. Kearney said a water taxi is planned to take the community's residents to Waterside Place.

The community has planned 391 homes at build out. Prices start at $399,000.

ELM Team Grows with Addition of New Architect

Join us in welcoming the newest member of the ELM team!

ELM Sarah Portrait 1.jpg

Sarah Marks is a registered architect with seven years of experience, and returns to ELM after working with the firm from 2012-2015. Sarah brings a strong technological background and an in-depth knowledge of Building Information Modeling (BIM) to the firm, in addition to considerable design talents.

While previously with ELM, Sarah was involved with projects including Sawgrass Village, Mayo Clinic Primary Care, and the second phase of Johns Creek. She earned both her Bachelor of Design and Master of Architecture from the University of Florida.

Industry West Opens in San Marco Square

Industry West before and after.jpg

One of the most prominent buildings in the historic San Marco Square in Jacksonville, Fla. has received a dramatic renovation as Industry West, a progressive e-commerce furniture company, moves into its new  headquarters and studio designed by ELM.

 Entry and private offices.

Entry and private offices.

 Industry West retail storefront.

Industry West retail storefront.

Previously occupied by Stellers Gallery for nearly three decades, the building at 1407 Atlantic Blvd. has undergone significant interior and exterior changes that express its historic character, while also reflecting the fresh and contemporary aesthetic of Industry West’s product offerings. Founded in 2011, Industry West is a leader in modern, high-quality furnishings for both commercial and residential applications.

 Central meeting room.

Central meeting room.

The renovation of the 4,300 sq. ft. historic San Marco Square building included eliminating most of the interior walls, exposing and emphasizing the original ceiling structure and opening up the floor plan to accommodate Industry West’s sales team, design consultants, customer service representatives and senior leadership in a flexible and inspired environment for employees, clients and visitors.

 Industry West employee workspaces and entry to outdoor patio lounge.

Industry West employee workspaces and entry to outdoor patio lounge.

 Outdoor patio lounge.

Outdoor patio lounge.

14-foot tall glass windows were installed in the storefront to display a rotating selection of items from the company’s catalog and provide interior spaces with natural light. The space is anchored by a central meeting room, and features private offices and flexible workspaces for employees, as well as a lounge toward the rear of the building.

 Retail storefront facing San Marco Square. 

Retail storefront facing San Marco Square. 

 Industry West exterior storefront.

Industry West exterior storefront.

The renovation of Industry West was recently featured on Officelovin', a website considered the "premium resource for office design inspiration." See additional photos from the article here.