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


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-designed LakeHouse Cove poised to begin construction in Lakewood Ranch

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. – ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller is providing architectural, landscape architectural and planning services for LakeHouse Cove, one of the first communities in the new Waterside District of Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota County.

 Rendering courtesy of Homes by Towne

Rendering courtesy of Homes by Towne

Lakewood Ranch is an award-winning master-planned community, and is currently the third-best-selling community in the United States. LakeHouse Cove is among the first of 12 neighborhoods that will eventually comprise the Waterside district, a community in the southwestern region of Lakewood Ranch that is organized around seven lakes.

The amenity for LakeHouse Cove is positioned on one of the community’s largest lakes, with the view from the clubhouse looking across nearly a mile of open water that will be home to water-oriented activities including kayaking, canoeing and sailing. The Lake House will be the center of community’s civic activity, and it will be complemented by a state-of-the-art fitness and wellness center, resort-style pool, outdoor shade cabanas, fire pit, boathouse and waterfront promenade and pavilion.

ELM refined LakeHouse Cove’s overall master plan, and led the design and visioning effort with the client, Homes by Towne. The firm completed architectural and landscape architectural design of the community entry, signage, common areas, clubhouse and amenity buildings, and site amenities.

“People are naturally drawn to water, and LakeHouse Cove’s master plan connects residents to the water in a unique and interesting way,” said Steve Lovett, ELM partner and design lead for LakeHouse Cove.

“We intentionally designed the community amenity and the edge of the lake to maximize the value of this exceptional view, and to heighten the drama and interaction with the massive scale of the community’s lakes.”

Construction is currently underway, with the Lake House and primary amenities expected to open in summer of 2018.

Jax expert: This is how a developer keeps communities relevant

Wednesday, Nov. 8
Published by the Jacksonville Business Journal
By Derek Gilliam, Reporter

As homebuilding continues to ramp up along the First Coast, large master-planned communities — particularly in Northern St. Johns County — are in some cases hitting their second or third phase of development.

How does a developer keep a community relevant more than a decade after the first home was built?

They hire civil engineers, landscape architects and designers that shape a vision for the project.

Steve Lovett, a principal with professional design firm Ervin Lovett & Miller, has worked on more than 50 master-planned communities, including Northern St. Johns County's Shearwater, Rivertown and Nocatee.

He recently discussed the topic of master-planned communities with the Jacksonville Business Journal.

What is a master-planned community and what are the goals when designing one? 

Master planning in general is just a process by which you ensure that you are making good decisions and creating value. A master-plan, whether it’s for a commercial redevelopment project like Sawgrass Village or a very large master-planned community like Shearwater in St. Johns County, it’s very important that all of the elements are considered together, so that you are creating the greatest possible value.

Really, a master-planned community implies the fact that it is comprehensively planned, intentionally. A large master-planned project is going to take several years, sometimes even longer, so we intentionally contemplate the configuration and alignment of the infrastructure: how a project might be phased, how value is created through design of the community. The creation of open spaces. All of that, if well designed, can increase value.

What is the firm’s philosophy when undertaking a master planned community?

Our philosophy is that we always start with the site. Early in my career, I was doing work in some really unique places and had some great mentors. A site is not like a prototype. Nobody wants to live in a prototype. These are places where people are raising families and creating life-long memories. So, what we do should represent something that is unique to itself. We look at each project and we look at each piece of property as completely unique to itself. We identify the greatest natural assets of any piece of property and preserve those, so that ultimately when a project is completed, it will still have the greatest manifestation of those assets possible.

For instance, Shearwater on County Road 210. Its landscape is beautiful, quintessential North Florida pine woods landscape, with some really wonderful pockets of wetland and conservation areas, really natural edges. And it has access to Trout Creek. Really the story of Shearwater is of open space and connectivity and celebrating the natural landscape. One of the things that is great about planning is we as designers have the ability and opportunity to put people where we want them and to show them what we want them to see. Rather than backing up a bunch of lots, up to a bunch of natural edges, we brought the main entry and spine road along those natural edges. 

With residential master-planned communities that can take more than a decade before they are fully built out, how do you create a timeless quality to ensure future sales even as trends change?

Designing with the intention that the project will adapt. Future undeveloped parcels need to be planned to adapt to what the market may be at the time. The community’s amenities and recreation facilities should adapt to as trends change. One of the things that we are very pleased with, is that a lot of our projects are timeless because we have set them up in such a way that the infrastructure supports the development in a really authentic way. We don’t want to typecast any community in any vintage or period in time. We aim for that three generations from now, the architecture is still relevant. It’s really a matter of fundamentals and conscious, intentional planning.

What do you see happening in the future in the master-planned community space in the future?

I think we have an opportunity here in North Florida to look at master-planned communities from a different lens then we have in the past. Different things are important. It used to be that there was a golf community in every residential community. Golf has become saturated in large measure. We look at those things that really attract and retain families. We want a master-planned community to be something that performs ecologically as well as economically. The preservation of these conservation areas, not just for appearances, but also for the value of a community.

A trend now is the idea of being able to live healthier. The ability for people to be able to walk and engage with nature will continue to be important. We have incorporated in most of our communities multi-use trails. It enables people to experience their community in a whole different way. There’s also a movement in terms of fresh foods and gardens and this whole notion from Farm to Table. We are starting to see a need for space where people can grow their own food. Really, suburban development, which has in the past been looked at as a pretty consumptive, car-dependent lifestyle. I think that’s being replaced by a more thoughtful and intelligent way of planning where we celebrate a property's greatest natural assets. 

ELM sets the vision for the first major community in the Waterside District in Lakewood Ranch

ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller is the planner, architect and landscape architect for LakeHouse Cove, a new community in the new Waterside District of Lakewood Ranch. The Waterside District marks Lakewood Ranch’s first major development in Sarasota County in two decades and is situated among numerous large existing lakes which define this landscape. 

ELM drew inspiration for the LakeHouse Cove community from the magnificent scale and peaceful setting of these remarkably large bodies of water - and positioned homesites, common areas, and the primary civic and recreational amenity in spectacular settings on the water.

The ELM team was responsible for the refinement of the overall master plan; planning, architecture and landscape architectural design of the major community clubhouse and adjacent amenities; front entry design and signage; and the trails, open space and pocket parks integrated throughout the community.

Construction is currently underway on LakeHouse Cove, with the Lake House and primary amenities expected to open summer of 2018.

Lakewood Ranch is the 31,000-acre award-winning master-planned community in Sarasota and Manatee counties on the West Coast of Florida - and the 4th fastest selling community in the United States. Lakewood Ranch is already home to more than 30,000 residents and features A-rated schools, a hospital, the Sarasota Polo Club, the 75-acre Premier Sports Campus, its own Main Street with theaters, shopping and dining, and more than four million square feet of commercial property.

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.

For the Kayak Club’s interior, Ansana combined luxury and comfort with Old Florida style to create a natural and inviting gathering space for residents.

“The Kayak Club’s interior design concept was inspired by the area’s natural environment along Trout Creek combined with Old Florida architectural elements,” said Nancy Short, design principal at Ansana Interior Design. “We used hand-crafted furniture, tile, and extensive millwork, including exposed beams and wood-clad walls, floors, and ceilings, to create a sense of luxury for the clubhouse. Comfortable modern seating, expansive verandas, and an inviting snack bar/coffee shop were purposely designed for residents to use the building daily.”

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, the longest Lazy Bird River in Northeast Florida, the Perch Waterslide Tower overlooking a multi-lane lap pool and lagoon pool and illuminated Har-Tru 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.

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.