The Art of Placemaking
Learn more about the purposeful planning that brings Lake Nona’s iconic architecture and community design to life
There’s so much to discover in Lake Nona. From top hospitals and research institutions to autonomous shuttles, the U.S. Tennis Association National Campus, dozens of neighborhoods, community parks, and miles of trails to explore. How does Lake Nona weave all of these different uses into one cohesive community where people live, work, and play harmoniously?
That’s where the development team at Tavistock, the Lake Nona developer, comes in. Overseeing community design and architecture, the team at Tavistock is committed to the art of placemaking – a multi-faceted approach to community planning and design meant to strengthen the connection between people and the spaces they share.
“Innovative design is in our DNA,” said Ralph Ireland, Vice President of Development Operations at Tavistock.
Ireland and his team look at the role of each new development project and ask questions about the physical structure, its tenants, placement, scale, landscaping, use of art, and how it will interact with the environment around it.
“We look at everything from the interior to the exterior and the spaces in between buildings to see where we can improve the look, feel, and functionality of the spaces we create,” he explained. “We want people to feel like they’re in a special environment when they’re in Lake Nona.”
When it comes to placemaking, Ireland says it’s about prioritizing moments in the environment where animation of the space is emphasized. In some areas, retail and restaurant spaces act as animators that encourage activity and engagement. In others, it could be a unique setting of memorable landscaping and artwork.
Have you ever noticed buildings in Lake Nona are often clustered around each other? That’s intentional. At Laureate Park Village Center, for example, Canvas Restaurant & Market serves as an animator and the surrounding buildings benefit from the restaurant’s activity. Ireland explained the idea for Laureate Park Village Center was to deconstruct the typical residential clubhouse into separate buildings for fitness, a community center, and food and beverage.
“We design all of our buildings and environments to have their own personalities and some, just like people, are more ‘outgoing’ than others because if everything is a star, then nothing is a star,” he said.
Before Pixon Apartments became the masterful mixed-use building it is today, Ireland said it started off as a straightforward apartment building.
“The architects initially proposed a mural that ended up spanning the entire elevation from the inside out. We took this idea to the next level and brought together a variety of artists to transform the building into the vibrant and versatile experience it is today,” he said.
In Lake Nona, we treat buildings developed by Tavistock the same way we treat buildings developed by our partners or national corporations. Every structure, down to its landscaping and signage, goes through a design review process to ensure a cohesive aesthetic throughout Lake Nona.
“When we were working through the design process with Walmart, we were able to highlight their new curbside pickup prototype while also maintaining a look and feel that is undoubtedly Lake Nona,” Ireland explained.
“At Starbucks on Narcoossee Road, we collaborated with them to utilize their canopy for signage – something that would usually go on a wall,” continued Ireland.
We work closely with tenants from the very beginning to create a look that is unique to their brand, but also respectful to the integrity of Lake Nona’s brand.
“Going the extra mile in the design may take us more time, but for us, it’s those details that take our built environment to the next level,” said Ireland.
His favorite building in Lake Nona, The Beacon and Code Wall, is a great example.
“Believe it or not, a parking garage is my favorite building in Lake Nona,” he said as he described its painted interior, interactive visual elements, and one-of-a-kind binary code wall.
“It’s my favorite because we took something that is typically uninspired and transformed it into something special – a community art piece. In Lake Nona, we don’t want anything to seem utilitarian. Everything has to have a purpose. Every object has to be thoughtful.”