Visual Communication

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.

Tamaya Celebrates Grand Unveiling of ELM-designed Residents Club


Grand Unveiling: ELM-Designed Residents Club

The much-anticipated Residents Club at Tamaya, designed by ELM, has now been completed and is the centerpiece of this new large mixed-use community, located on 800 acres midway between downtown Jacksonville, Florida, and the Atlantic beaches. The Residents Club, a grand classically-designed Mediterranean-inspired clubhouse, is positioned as the civic, social, and recreational heart of Tamaya.

ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller created Tamaya’s master plan, working with the community and city stakeholders to secure project approval. Additionally, ELM is the architect and landscape architect for the entire community, responsible for designing all amenities, recreational and club buildings, pools, open spaces, parks, signage, and landscape improvements.

Once completed, the community will have approximately 2,400 homesites, a mixed-use Town Center with more than 500,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, multi-family residential development, senior living, and an extensive park and open space network, connecting Tamaya’s individual neighborhoods and villages.

Designed to serve all of Tamaya’s neighborhoods, ELM programmed and planned the Residents Club to serve a multigenerational population, with a wide variety of amenities including a spectacular pool and aquatics facility with a Junior Olympic-size pool, interactive spray features, a dramatic splash plaza, and a beach-entry lagoon pool; a state-of-the-art fitness/wellness center; four Har-Tru tennis courts; an adventure playground; and a large multi-purpose lawn, appropriate for informal gatherings, games, or events.

ELM’s efforts to integrate the community within the natural environment and their intentionally-designed connections to trails and open spaces help make Tamaya a special place. As the community’s centerpiece, the Residents Club is an expression of ELM’s rich commitment to quality of life, recreation, design, and planning. This is further evident at the project’s arrival where ELM positioned grand fountains to frame the existing natural landscape and designed gracious and elegant signage that is engaged with nature, introducing Tamaya’s story, reinforced from the entry throughout each neighborhood village.

Nocatee Town Center Booms with New Construction

Nocatee is getting a lot of attention from the local media. ELM designed many of the newest buildings in Nocatee Town Center, consisting of new restaurants and retail to serve this fast-growing community. Together these improvements are helping to make Nocatee a better place to live, dine, and shop. 

  Nocatee Town Center adds full-service restaurant

Nocatee Town Center adds
full-service restaurant

  7 retailers opening this fall at Nocatee Town Center

7 retailers opening this fall at Nocatee Town Center

  South Kitchen and Spirits to fill big void in Nocatee

South Kitchen and Spirits to fill big void in Nocatee


Nocatee Town Center East


Nocatee Office Park


Nocatee Town Center Restaurant & Retail


Nocatee Gate Always Fresh Market


Starling at Nocatee

Utica Zoo Master Plan: The Value of Being Partners

By: Chris Overdorf, Principal, ELM Environments

At ELM, exceptional client service constitutes a core value for our practice, and we always aim to become a trusted partner of our clients, rather than just being a consultant.

This week, after a process that started three years ago with the Utica Zoo, we delivered the zoo’s first comprehensive master plan since 1990, this $75-million master plan transforms the 102-year-old institution into a premier regional destination featuring Asian, Adirondack, African, and Living Rainforest areas that will be phased over a 20-year period.

Proposed implementation strategy for the new Utica Zoo Master Plan by ELM Environments

As we celebrate with the Utica Zoo over their future goals and the impact that this master plan will have on the community as well as global conservation efforts, we also want to share more about the process that it took to put together this unique, valuable asset for the zoo.

For many zoos, conversations about their master plans raise plenty of questions, concerns and opinions that are often at odds with one another. It takes a unique, flexible team to partner together with zoo leadership, staff and other stakeholders for the development of a comprehensive, successful future direction for the organization.

In developing the Utica Zoo Master Plan, there were many starts and stops over the course of those three years. I met the director at an AZA event quite by happenstance, and after she had expressed that others weren’t willing to help them out I knew that we could. I could see the passion and dedication in her eyes and her commitment to conservation, to the City of Utica and to the mission of the Utica Zoo. I knew that our new partnership would be built on a strong foundation since we shared the same core values and purpose.

It took some time to get going and begin a cost-effective – yet thorough – process. During the course of the process, our team navigated a change in the zoo’s senior staff, stopped to explore ideas generated by exciting new donors, and integrated new potential partnerships into the zoo’s master plan.

The flexibility of our team throughout these twists and turns allowed us to demonstrate our true commitment to a mutually-beneficial partnership with the zoo. We didn’t look at these events as opportunities to rescope the project nor ask for additional services, because we knew these events were positive in helping the zoo to realize its goals. If these events were positive to the Utica Zoo, they were also positive for us and allowed us to improve the master plan. We weren't “just” consultants; we were partners.

During the master planning process, our team analyzed every aspect of the zoo’s 80-acre property, including the best way to utilize 50 acres available for expansion. The team developed these master plan recommendations by using a proprietary concept called “return on exhibit” (ROE), which focuses on the conservation status of a species (endangered, threatened, stable, etc.), the educational aspects of the animal, visitor experience, cost to feed the animals, and cost to build or maintain exhibits.

The new master plan also focuses on fixing critical visitor/staff safety issues, resolving ADA accessibility issues, expands parking capacity, adds two different group entry points, creates additional revenue generation capacities, and creates a stronger experience through an expanded circulation system that takes visitors deeper into the existing woodland areas that were not previously accessible to visitors.

The plan also supports a flexibility to support new evolving strategic partnerships with a variety of local and regional entities.

New Utica Zoo Master Plan created by ELM Environments

Some of the highlights include:

Asian Realm:

An area that would be anchored by a multi-story temple that would hold animal exhibits and also serve as an observation deck and be surrounded by forest habitat exhibits for animals such as red pandas, orangutans, tigers and snow leopards.

Rendering of proposed Asian Temple described in the Utica Zoo Master Plan by ELM Environments

North Trek:

Would feature an Adirondack Lodge that in addition to housing exhibits would serve as an event center and food service facility and incorporate an interior underwater viewing of the adjacent otter and turtle habitats. It would also overlook a black bear and timber wolf habitat and feature a forest zip line roller coaster.

Rendering of proposed new underwater viewing of otter and turtle habitats by ELM Environments

African Alley:

Would feature switchback trails, elevated boardwalks and a canopy ropes course and exhibits that would include giraffes, gorillas and hyenas.

Rendering of proposed new Utica Zoo giraffe habitat by ELM Environments

Living Rainforest:

Would feature a renovation of the current primate building and an outdoor exhibit space for sloth, tamarins, maned wolf and Andean bear. In addition to new indoor/outdoor habitats for the primates, a new indoor fruit bat exhibit would also be included.

Interior rendering of proposed Rainforest Building by ELM Environments

The ELM team is very proud of the results and for the success witnessed at the Master Plan Unveiling Event at Utica Zoo on Sept 27. We are honored to be a partner with the Utica Zoo and look forward to helping out in any way possible as they move forward to implement these exciting future plans.

Each time we work with a new zoo in this type of collaborative partnership, we learn so much about design, planning, animal wellness, creative conservation efforts, revenue generation, and so much more.

We always welcome conversations with potential new zoo partners who are interested in expanding their own future plans and aspirations into something concrete that they can then go and implement. If you would like to discuss something similar for your zoo or other organization, please contact Chris Overdorf.

Tamaya fountain entry feature comes to life

We are excited to share the latest photos of the new main entry feature for Tamaya, the Mediterranean-style master-planned community located off of Beach Boulevard near Kernan Boulevard.

As guests and residents of this 780-acre ICI Homes community enter through a grand front entry they will be greeted by an impressive gatehouse, beautiful fountains, abundant green space and lakes as they wind their way through the property to the amenity center. This ELM-designed recreational and social hub will include a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse, pools, tennis courts, an event lawn, and nearly 4,500 square feet of fitness space within the clubhouse.

Here are the latest photos of the Tamaya front entry feature on Beach Boulevard.