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what we do

"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." -Theodore Roosevelt

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sustainable

We seek innovative design solutions which provide a balance of environmental sensitivity, social equity, and economic viability. We are committed to creating sustainable places that meet today’s needs, while being conscious of how we will live tomorrow . We don’t give lip service to sustainability – we live this in our office, in our homes, and in our practice.

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creative

We believe everyone has something to offer. Our firm is based on a flat organizational structure, providing opportunity for all of our staff to be involved in decision-making processes. We find this enhances the design process and results in a superior final product.

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design

EnSite, Inc. is a leading Florida based design firm. Our services include Planning, Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, Urban Design, Sustainability, and Graphic Design. Our team is committed to the long-term success of the communities in which we live, work, learn, and play.

our portfolio

#enrichment

"Our job is to make sure that even as we make progress, that we are also giving people a sense of hope and vision for the future." - Barack Obama

Time to sack the cul-de-sac

Time to sack the cul-de-sac

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Time to sack the cul-de-sac

Do you know what the greatest threat to our planet is? Here's a hint: it's not aliens.

Walkable cities, mixed-use development, sustainability - you've heard us preach these concepts before. We're not afraid of sounding like a broken record. It's all about being able to live, work, play and learn within a reasonable square footage, and doing those things to the most enjoyable, fulfilling extent possible.

Here's a video short that, while amusing, gets to the heart of the New Urbanism (Old Urbanism - you'll see) approach to urban planning and design, and how it deals with the elephant in the room - sprawl.

There, we said it. Now turn it up.

Envisioning must be a community process

Envisioning must be a community process

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Envisioning must be a community process

When's the last time an idea or plan was handed down from some place on high, sight unseen, and it made things a heck of a lot better for your community? Anyone?...If you're at a loss, consider that instructive. And now let's consider some community envisioning that's more transparent (quite literally!)

In working to get the word out about the Austin Master Plan, the clever people at Project Great Streets had hundreds of transparent slides featuring a single, beautiful tree printed out. Now people can place a tree anywhere on an Austin street (or on top of a friend's head), Instagram it and participate in the envisioning process!

#projectgreatstreets

A photo posted by BP (@barronpeper) on

Communities are improved through the will of their members, and only if the change that happens is informed by the desires and needs of its members. Administrations sometimes lose sight of how to meaningfully involve the people they're intended to serve, and the community's will often must be reasserted.

We're excited when folks show up for public meetings so their concerns about specific projects can be heard, such as the Midtown plan and Gardner's Park. If you have ideas about planning that affects where you live, work, play and learn, we'd love to know. Connect with us on Facebook or send us a message at info@en-site.com.

Urban planning for the Millennial mindset

Urban planning for the Millennial mindset

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Urban planning for the Millennial mindset

Without the benefit of an enduring, sensible master plan, an urban environment will at some point need to undergo some degree of redevelopment. One of the considerations that will contribute to the success of such a plan or redevelopment is a consideration of age demographics. What is the median age of the community members that are currently engaged in the environment? Which age group do you wish to attract? What do demographic projections predict about the age distribution that is likely to occur?

Among the criteria that have driven our plan for Midtown Fort Myers are the preferences of a younger generation. Dispensing with the clichés of the past, Florida is now attracting greater numbers of folks under 40. In fact, the median age in Fort Myers currently is 35-36. Millennials represent 1/3 of the U.S. population. So the time is now to begin building environments and communities that consider a younger stakeholder, and their children as stakeholders-to-be.

For our purposes – and this is reflected in the Midtown plan, along with other major projects – we consider that Millennials:

  • Are technology savvy
  • Are community-oriented
  • Desire free time for recreation
  • Desire creative work environments
  • Typically live in mid-sized cities (20,000 – 200,000)

According to the Millennial mindset, if we can generalize, key principles will include walkable, mixed-use environments, park space as a focal point, and an environment that fosters community building and an all-encompassing sense of livability. Whereas earlier generations were OK with compartmentalizing their lives, Milliennials offer a wisdom that satisfaction is attained when all aspects of life are meaningful. And we contend that this can start with a built environment that is interconnected.

Runnin’ Nerdy – for education

Runnin’ Nerdy – for education

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Runnin’ Nerdy – for education

You’ve heard of the Running of the Bulls. But what about the Running of the Nerds? It’s safer, and it’s for a good cause. You know by now EnRichment is an important aspect of EnSite’s mission. You also know our Jon Romine is a big supporter of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools. He’s been a mentor for the Take Stock in Children scholarship program for more than seven years, too. Here’s a way to help with the EnRichment mission:

Sign up for the Fifth Annual Strides for Education 5K in February by going to this link, click on “Join a team” and select team Runnin’ Nerdy (that’s us!). The state will match every dollar raised for registration or donations to go toward scholarships for at-risk youth. Even if you don’t run, at the Runnin’ Nerdy registration page, you can choose to donate and help our team help kids! And…if you join another team, we’ll forgive you. It’s all for a good cause. But just look at our name – doesn’t it just scream fun? Sign up and join us, won’t you? It will be a blast, as always. It’s only three miles and some change, but it will go a long way toward changing a student’s life.

Go to the Foundation for Lee County Schools' website for more on the Take Stock in Children program.

Midtown Fort Myers – defining the heart of a town

Midtown Fort Myers – defining the heart of a town

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Midtown Fort Myers – defining the heart of a town

Some folks who live in Fort Myers moved here after the River District had been dusted off, spiffed up, rebranded and made to sparkle. Many who visit here for the first time can be heard murmuring to their companions about what a beautiful downtown we have. That’s true. And while we’re proud of our downtown, some days it’s hard to figure out the character of the “town” that it’s the downtown of.

At EnSite, we’re determined to change that. So in partnership with the City of Fort Myers, the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency and the community, we’ve provided a conceptual plan to do some serious revitalization of the area of Fort Myers embraced by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the north, Cleveland Avenue to the west, Evans Avenue to the east, and Edison Avenue to the south.

Midtown Fort Myers Concept Plan

The beautiful downtown we’ve come to love will in effect be extended, providing opportunities for commerce, recreation and higher density housing. Key points of the Midtown Project include:

  • engaging Fort Myers residents in the planning process
  • increasing connectivity and walkability
  • to that end, rerouting vehicular movement, which will also increase safety
  • developing bicycle paths, trails and greenways
  • preserving the existing railway corridor for future multi-modal transportation options
  • using roundabouts for continuous traffic flow
  • improving public transit
  • emphasizing mixed-use development for people to live, work and play in place
  • establishing forward-thinking parking solutions
  • creating interconnected green spaces for public use, including neighborhood and community parks and playgrounds
  • responding to preferences and concerns of Millennials (median age in Fort Myers is 35-36)
  • organizing future growth in a logical manner, where the area is currently a hodge podge of uses.

This plan has spent a long time gestating. It incorporates recommendations from multiple studies previously completed: the 2013 Lee County Rail Corridor Feasibility Study, the 2013 Downtown Fort Myers Mobility Plan, the Downtown Plan (which identifies redevelopment districts), the 2010 Cleveland Avenue Plan and the 2006 Fort Myers Parks & Open Space Master Plan. It’s time to envision Midtown as a draw for technology and innovation, retail, a farmer's market with truck vendors, entertainment, recreation, cultural activity, community gardens and much more focused energy that will help further define the “town” it refers to.

Million Mile Movement - health one step at a time

Million Mile Movement - health one step at a time

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Million Mile Movement - health one step at a time

Thanksgiving is here! It's a time to be grateful, to surround yourself with loved ones - and a time to eat! Who doesn't love the all the lovely food that becomes available during the last few months of the year? The resulting holiday weight gain doesn't have to be an annual affair, however. It's probably no coincidence the Million Mile Movement kicked off in October, just in time for Halloween candy sales. This program is a simple, free way to log your miles that you run, walk or swim (or convert miles from a handy dandy online tool from other kinds of exercise).

As part of a team or an individual, it becomes easy to put one foot in front of the other. A journey of a thousand (million) miles starts with a single step, after all. Lao Tzu said that. And it's the wisdom behind Healthy Lee's program. Set a goal. Start small. Be accountable. Celebrate your progress. Prepare for a year of healthy living. Seems like a great idea. That's why EnSite has signed on as a community partner for the program. And it's not too late for you to start. Sign up through Dec. 29 or find out more at healthylee.com/million-mile-movement.

We'll keep working toward making places within our community with complete streets and walkable neighborhoods. And we'll be running, walking, biking right alongside you on our way to a healthier, greener, happier Southwest Florida.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at EnSite. Now get out there and walk your turkey off!

Urban green spaces - the cure for the common cubicle

Urban green spaces - the cure for the common cubicle

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Urban green spaces - the cure for the common cubicle

“Cities give not the human senses room enough,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in his seminal essay Nature. That was published in 1844. What might he make of some of our modern concrete jungles, when even at that time he felt compelled to paddle out into a river to “leave the village politics and personalities, yes, and the world of villages and personalities behind?”

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Where do you go to get away from the world of personalities – or deadlines, traffic, interminable meetings or everyday annoyances? Those with means can enjoy an extended trip to a National Park, which the popular Ken Burns documentary series has dubbed “America’s Best Idea.” However, experiences with nature should be within easy access to all city dwellers, regardless of their wealth in terms of leisure time or monetary riches. And at EnSite, urban green spaces, pocket gardens, street trees, parks, community gardens and other nature-intensive elements are integral to many of our planning and redevelopment projects.

Children’s academic performance and development benefit from early and consistent experiences with nature. Likewise, adults can improve focus, gain perspective and reap health benefits by taking time to decompress in a natural environment. Workplace productivity and greater satisfaction can be achieved by momentarily removing one’s self from the overstimulation that can come with the demands of everyday life.

Even if we can’t rent a cabin in the woods and try to live like Emerson’s friend Henry David Thoreau, who said, “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude,” our cities should avail us of opportunities to be experience a connection with nature. They should be built to give our senses “room enough.” As Emerson said in his essay, “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.”

So what’s the cure for the common cubicle? Take some nature. Repeat daily as needed.

Join us Nov. 14 for Wharf Walk!

Join us Nov. 14 for Wharf Walk!

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Join us Nov. 14 for Wharf Walk!

Indulge in food, music and fun from 5-9 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14 at the award-winning Wharf Walk. This free event is presented by the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corporation (LDRC), the City of LaBelle, and Arts of the Inland, with all proceeds going to the beautification, revitalization and preservation of historic downtown LaBelle.

Beth Thompson Live will perform on the big stage, setting the mood as you browse through the artists’ booths. Local food vendors will entice you with specialty foods from their establishments, supplying a well-rounded menu for your dining pleasure, along with a selection of beer and wine. When you’ve made your dining selections, have a seat under the lighted oaks to relax, eat and enjoy the music. The Admiral’s Deck will also be available with after-dinner cigars.wharf walk_poster

Friends of EnSite know about Principal Shellie Johnson’s passion for her hometown of LaBelle and her tireless work as President of LDRC. The revitalization project was designated by Secretary of State Ken Detzner as part of the “Florida Main Street” program and received three merit awards at this year’s Main Street Annual Conference; 1) Outstanding Special Event, Wharf Walk 2014; 2) Outstanding Membership/Fundraising Effort, Ft. Thompson Parklet; and 3) Outstanding Business of the Year, Caloosa Belle for promotion and marketing.

Join us to celebrate the history and future of beautiful LaBelle and enjoy an evening of great food, exciting art, a good cigar, and dancing in the street to the upbeat music of Beth Thompson Live, all along the banks of the Caloosahatchee River at the 3rd Annual Wharf Walk!

Farmers markets grow community

Farmers markets grow community

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Farmers markets grow community

A scientific study once determined something a lot of us have already discovered: 10 times as many conversations happen at a farmer’s market than at the supermarket. Sure it might be convenient to grab a bag of apples that traveled by truck from 2,000 miles away and then hurry on to the next aisle to pick up some Scotch tape and dog treats at the end of your hectic workday. But farmer’s markets are appointment shopping.

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You can discover the simple joys of an heirloom tomato picked that morning and talk to the farmer who picked it. That same farmer might have advice as to how to save the seeds from that sun-drenched fruit so you can start a small kitchen garden.

When cities haven’t done the best job of creating walkable, complete streets, farmers markets provide the cure for the common case of social isolation. In areas where fresh produce is hard to come by, farmers markets can bring nutrition into so-called food deserts one day a week.

Farmers markets bring vibrant energy to grassy campuses, parking lots, alleyways and stadiums. Budding entrepreneurs can test the waters and see if their knitting crafts will be met with enthusiasm and supplement their income. Surrounding businesses benefit from the traffic. In addition to produce, attendees are often able to shop for gifts, cut flowers and local honey while taking in some entertainment. One local Fort Myers market even offers free weekly yoga classes.

As people become more invested in knowing where their food comes from, farmers remain the major draw. But along with those tomatoes, they also grow community.

Envisioning the College Parkway Community

Envisioning the College Parkway Community

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Envisioning the College Parkway Community

In a recent post we introduced the concept of Placemaking. It’s a rare luxury to be able to apply the concept on a blank slate basis, given our historical automobile-based ethos and the resultant multilane highway/strip mall/parking lot-centered model of urban growth. We at EnSite, however, don’t like to refuse an interesting challenge.

Parkway

The title of this post is intentionally a little provocative. As it currently stands, College Parkway offers little that resembles community cohesion. It features efficient automotive transit from Cleveland Avenue to Cape Coral and points between. Businesses have popped up on either side of the thoroughfare to take advantage of the central Fort Myers location. Some, rather than benefiting from the volume, have become victims to the nonsensical traffic patterns including u-turns and the one-way approach and exit of their parking lots. There are pockets of communities, including housing complexes, major office buildings and the campus of Florida Southwestern State College, but these are isolated by the constraint effected by a lack of human scale in the planning process.

WalkabilityCrowd2 The recent Mayor's Symposium on Walkable Urban Communities drew a crowd of more than 400

Attitudes and planning philosophy have changed since College Parkway came into being, while the population of Southwest Florida and volume of road use continues to rise. Therefore the time is right to take on the challenges we identified above as opportunities. Our Shellie Johnson recently presented on the College Parkway Community Redevelopment Plan, which incorporates this vision:

“Recognizing the importance of College Parkway as a significant transportation corridor and understanding the need to maintain its function while expanding economic opportunities within the College Parkway Community, the College Parkway Corridor will become a mixed-use, walkable, vibrant and diverse destination where employment, residential, commercial and civic uses are integrated with public spaces to support a local economy, encourage walking and bicycling, support civic interaction, and provide a spectrum of housing choices to address a diverse population.”

If you live, learn, work, travel or have a business interest along the Parkway, you have a stake in this redevelopment process. We’d like to hear from you! Please email Shellie at ShellieJ@en-site.com with your feedback.

Making space for places - Placemaking for communities

Making space for places - Placemaking for communities

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Making space for places - Placemaking for communities

Think about the assets of the town where you live or like to visit. Waterfronts, walkable streets, green spaces, markets – these are all great examples. How about artists? Businesses? Community leaders…these people are also assets. And so are the residents who earn and spend money in the town. So are the young people who are deciding what to be when they grow up. So are the communities of people of different backgrounds who come together in cultural sharing. How do these physical and human assets interact to make something greater than the sum of their parts? This is a consideration of Placemaking. According to the non-profit Project for Public Spaces (PPS), “…Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community.” Public spaces that are vital centers of human activity build community. And in a vital community centered around “place,” the members of that community are given a sense of ownership in that community and their needs can be more reliably met. In the words of PPS, “With community-based participation at its center, an effective Placemaking process capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, and it results in the creation of quality public spaces that contribute to people’s health, happiness, and well being.” It seems like common sense, yet we have needed clear voices to advocate for the idea of designing cities for people. It was revolutionary thinking during the middle of the last century to suggest maybe we should put the brakes on “progress” that placed cars and shopping centers at the center of urban design. The movement has had its heroes, such as Jane Jacobs. There is an extensive compendium of placemaking projects to serve as examples to emulate. And municipalities have seen the wisdom in reimagining their neighborhoods as “places” that thrive in their interaction between people and the natural and built environments. With continued emphasis on the concept of Placemaking, it looks like the future could be a pretty nice place to live.
Walking into the future – reimagining our neighborhoods

Walking into the future – reimagining our neighborhoods

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Walking into the future – reimagining our neighborhoods

What if there were a way to reduce healthcare costs, urban sprawl, pollution, and obesity while increasing property values, improving bicycle and pedestrian safety, defining and strengthening neighborhood identity and pride, enhancing curb appeal, integrating green spaces into the urban landscape, reducing social isolation, encouraging economic diversification, improving the prospects of small business owners and centralizing services for urban residents? That’s a heck of a lot to achieve, isn’t it? If it all seems like an impossible pipe dream requiring decades of in-depth study, intensive mobilization of resources, slick PR campaigns to secure buy-in, and a clean slate new beginning by way of wrecking ball and bulldozer, we humbly submit a simple solution: take an accounting of our neighborhoods’ existing assets and capitalize on them to achieve a “walkable cities” approach. Yup we said it: by reimagining our existing neighborhoods and the way they interconnect with an emphasis on human, rather than vehicular mobility, we can begin to address – in one fell swoop – the dozen or so quality of life and economic factors introduced above. Simple, right? Just put one foot in front of the other. Design and planning firms like EnSite have spent decades implementing a walkable cities approach, often on a small-scale basis. Along the way, they’ve produced case studies to bolster the profile of the concept in the minds of municipalities and residents in anticipation of the day it becomes not only an acceptable alternative to the way “things have always been done,” but widely accepted as the way to anticipate our challenges and provide a sustainable model for future urban lifestyles. Consider this headline from the Sunday October, 11 News-Press: OUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON WALKABLE CITIES. We couldn’t agree more. Downtown-LaBelle-Real-Estate2-980x520 Both quality of life and small businesses benefit when we capitalize on existing assets to increase walkability and connectivity in a neighborhood.
Tanglewood's outdoor classroom - a true community effort

Tanglewood's outdoor classroom - a true community effort

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Tanglewood's outdoor classroom - a true community effort

"When I get to walk to school I get to hear the pond, and it really makes me happy." Well that's about the best kind of testimonial we can receive. This is exactly how a young representative of Tanglewood Elementary School begins an amazing video produced by Lee County Schools about Tanglewood's new outdoor classroom for which EnSite provided design and construction management services.

In another post, we described the multi-year collaboration between the teachers, staff, parents, volunteers and the local business community that resulted in this "field trip on campus." The same young man concludes the video with a wish that kids in other schools could be so fortunate as to have such a beautiful space for learning, relaxing and getting in touch with the natural world. And to that we say, with a true community effort, every kid could be.

We hope you enjoy the video!

A horizontal corporate structure is not for napping

A horizontal corporate structure is not for napping

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A horizontal corporate structure is not for napping

George Costanza did not have a healthy relationship with work. You might recall the often-bumbling Seinfeld character goes through a lot of jobs. While at work for the New York Yankees he figures out a way to nap by sleeping under his desk, which he has modified to his exact specifications. Recently NL Studio in Greece unveiled a workstation that breaks down into a bed. The design studio, whose website trumpets “controlled chaos” as a corporate theme, explains: “The main concept was to comment on the fact that many times our lives are ‘shrinking’ in order to fit into the confined space of our office.” The design is sleek and clever, and the commentary is sound, if a little sad.

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There’s a concept we like better. At a lot of companies, plenty of lip service is given to the healthy workplace. Smoking cessation programs, a company-wide fitness challenge, walking groups, and replacing donuts with carrot sticks at the weekly meeting are all well and good. At EnSite, we believe a healthy workplace begins with its corporate structure. We put in odd hours at times. But we do it because we’re committed to the same things, not because we’re putting in the appearance of being near our desks.

We employ a horizontal corporate structure, meaning no one has a monopoly on good ideas and no mandates are handed down from an ivory tower. There’s no disembodied George Steinbrenner screaming from offscreen. All team members have free reign to provide feedback on all projects, and no one is left in the dark on decisions that affect them. As we emphasize connectivity in our projects, we acknowledge a direct link between our mental and physical wellness. And what can be healthier than being at work because you want to be?

Designing the future of downtown LaBelle

Designing the future of downtown LaBelle

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Designing the future of downtown LaBelle

A city can’t survive on history alone. LaBelle certainly has plenty of history, having started as a settlement of cattle ranchers and trappers in the 1880s. “The belle of the Caloosahatchee” was chartered as a town in 1911 and became the seat of a newly christened county in 1923, named after Captain Francis A. Hendry, “Cattle King of South Florida.” In 1925, befitting a county seat, the Florida legislature chartered the city of LaBelle. Fast forward 90 years, and “The City Under the Oaks” has lots of potential. Its downtown possesses many assets, including charming historic buildings, green spaces and parks, waterfront, a pedestrian-friendly street grid and much more. Its biggest asset, though, is the passion of its residents, who are engaged in taking the raw beauty of LaBelle and polishing it to a shine. One such resident is our own Shellie Johnson, who is president of the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corporation. That’s a motivated group of volunteers determined to improve the appearance and economic stability of historic Downtown LaBelle, while preserving its rich heritage and contributing to the livelihood of its residents, business owners and community. EnSite is pleased to help develop and facilitate a community vision for Downtown LaBelle, and to create a plan for realizing that vision. As stated in the Historical Downtown Walking District Plan, “Downtown LaBelle is like a photograph that is out of focus. While the elements are in place, the current vision is not quite clear enough to appreciate.” Many of the historic buildings could be put to better and more consistent use, and some are unoccupied and in disrepair. Sidewalk continuity could be improved to achieve better walkability. Some businesses have left downtown to avoid maintenance costs. Already, the vision is becoming more crystalized for Downtown LaBelle. A robust schedule of events has focused more energy downtown, like the popular Wharf Walk. Adaptive reuse is a favorite term recently. What better home for an ice cream shop or boutique than a funky, historic building? Loyal customers at Forrey Grill will soon be able to enjoy al fresco dining while taking in the sights and sounds of the historic downtown. There’s just something magical about people uniting in their love for a place and to design its next 90 years. It’s going to be beautiful!       DLRC-logo  
Bringing the field trip to the student – outdoor classrooms

Bringing the field trip to the student – outdoor classrooms

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Bringing the field trip to the student – outdoor classrooms

Just a couple of weeks ago, the new outdoor classroom at Tanglewood Elementary School was unveiled, representing three fruitful years of collaboration between the school and the local business community. EnSite was thrilled to assist with design and construction management services. Meanwhile, the PTA’s hard work garnered about $50,000 in funds raised, with volunteers donating hundreds of hours.

In addition to Tanglewood we have helped Gulf Elementary and Mariner Middle achieve their outdoor classroom dreams, and are currently finishing design drawings for Heights Elementary. It all fits in well with our dreams, too – namely our EnRichment initiative to focus on helping schools and our community.

All children need and benefit from more time outdoors. Connecting with nature can be increasingly difficult in our modern built environments, but it’s critical for kids’ health, self-concept and community success. Students learn science concepts experientially to complement the material in their textbooks and have the opportunity for plenty of “a-ha” moments. An outdoor classroom benefits both students and teachers with a change of environment, which is especially important in an era of budget crunches. With fewer opportunities to enjoy outdoor field trips featuring science and environmental ideas, our collaboration with the schools means we can bring the field trip to them.

Ensite helped create outdoor classrooms at Tanglewood Elementary School  
EnSite takes the plunge for education

EnSite takes the plunge for education

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EnSite takes the plunge for education

EnSite's Jon Romine gets dunked to support The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools. EnRichment is more than a clever play on EnSite’s name to denote its commitment to increasing educational opportunities for youth in Southwest Florida. The design, planning and engineering firm maintains a special focus on sustainability, which applies to more than environmental impact – it means adopting a holistic view of the needs of the community and developing a responsible growth strategy for the company. A community cannot be sustainable without a robust future workforce that is properly educated to anticipate the next generation’s challenges. EnRichment means improving the baseline level of education in the community so it can achieve the fullest, most vibrant expression of itself, and densely seeding the community with experts to define its identity far into the future. Another EnSite focus is connectivity. It manifests in our urban planning designs and public-private partnerships, but also in our approach to engaging youth. Students readily connect to the “why” as it relates to their studies when they participate in programs like STEM@Work, STEM business tours, Career Exploration Nights and AVID Programs. Our outdoor classroom design projects also enable kids to connect with nature while at work on their studies. EnSite staff is involved in mentoring programs with the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and Big Brothers and Sisters. By being a positive role model for at-risk youth, we help them understand it is up to them to create their destiny. We encourage all community leaders to identify similar opportunities to enrich the lives of young people and empower them to CONNECT to their future. Children at Tanglewood Elementary School's new outdoor classroom enjoy a small lesson from EnSite's Director of Landscape Architecture, Jon Romine Children at Tanglewood Elementary School's new outdoor classroom enjoy a lesson from EnSite's Director of Landscape Architecture, Jon Romine
A return to the city center – new possibilities

A return to the city center – new possibilities

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A return to the city center – new possibilities

While a suddenly volatile U.S. stock market continues its wild gyrations, Americans are discovering something they can really bank on: a return to the city center. According to a recent report by the investment rating company Fitch, our love affair with suburban sprawl is cooling off. The trend coincides with home prices finally attaining sustainable levels of valuations since the housing bubble led to economic chaos a few years ago.

This centralization of focus from the regional to the urban level brings with it new opportunities for cities and urban neighborhoods to redefine their character, establish their long-term vision and approach the challenges of growth with purpose and strategy.

For city dwellers, urban living at its best represents centrality, where work, school, recreation and services are all within an easily negotiable radius. Planners, urban designers and municipalities have been talking for a long time about walkability and connectivity, and a return to the city center means the time has come to act on those conversations. It’s time for them to work with residents to identify the character they wish to maintain in their neighborhoods, and what defining characteristics would help shape their sense of community.

How will increased density affect ecological concerns, and how can those effects be mitigated in advance using principles to promote sustainable communities for decades to come? How can multi-use and infill development techniques accommodate additional residents and businesses while retaining historically significant landmarks and aesthetics? How can we integrally incorporate green spaces and public land in the urban cityscape?

At EnSite we know these questions must be answered in cooperation with all stakeholders, and we’re excited by the possibilities this renewed focus on urban planning and design will bring.

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A gift to the city – Cape Christian Fellowship Park

A gift to the city – Cape Christian Fellowship Park

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A gift to the city – Cape Christian Fellowship Park

Churches occupy a place in history as the center of a community. Consider the colonial meeting houses of early New England, which served as a place to conduct religious worship, discuss issues facing the town and make decisions about government business. Eventually separation of church and state became codified in our founding documents, populations became decentralized, and society became more inclusive of diverse systems of belief. Today churches have to work harder to maintain the role of community anchor.

Cape Christian Church has done an excellent job of attracting parishioners. The nondenominational church has grown rapidly since its founding in 1987, and will need to continue to expand its facilities in coming years. EnSite was proud to provide planning and civil design for a campus enrichment plan that leaves room for future growth while serving as a hub for community engagement.

Cape Christian 2

Cape Christian took our suggestions and hit the ground running. An integral part of the plan was to create a park and meeting place that is free and open for the general public to enjoy. Fellowship Park is a five-acre park the church considers its gift to the city. Every detail was accounted for. The church went on to complete construction on so many amenities. An outdoor fountain and courtyard with seating for more than 200 people is the centerpiece, but there are opportunities for recreation, sports, picnicking and just getting together with friends and family.

With its focus on connectedness to the Cape Coral community, this amazing project achieves the “Living Peacefully” tenant of the church’s Lifestyle Statement, which includes this verse: “Let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” Romans 16:19

From trash to treasure – Admiral Lehigh Trailhead Park

From trash to treasure – Admiral Lehigh Trailhead Park

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From trash to treasure – Admiral Lehigh Trailhead Park

Blogger David Bulit has made his name by presenting forgotten places as compelling photographic subjects at his online project called Abandoned Florida. Once-vibrant homes, schools, theaters and open lots are displayed strewn with trash, covered in graffiti and grown-over with weeds as if the earth is attempting to reclaim its due. While such images are fascinating to look at online or in a coffee table art book, they’re not what you want to see on your way to work or in your own backyard.

Admiral Lehigh Golf Resort might have been a fitting subject for Mr. Bulit’s site, but Lee County and the citizens of Lehigh Acres had a better idea: transform this dilapidated golf course into a beautiful park that would become a community treasure for many decades to come. EnSite provided the civil engineering and landscape architecture for the project, and assisted with the design and permitting.

Today the paved trail at Admiral Lehigh Trailhead Park provides a great place to walk, jog or wheel around the three-acre wildflower prairie, where butterflies and birds are in abundance. Picnic pavilions provide shelter to escape the heat and take in the sights and sounds of nature. Photographers, families, bird watchers and dog walkers enjoy this park. Native plants abound, exotic species have been eliminated, and most of the existing trees were preserved. Many sustainable principles help support a beautiful, natural space that will allow future generations to enjoy our accessible, functional interpretation of what nature has intended.

what inspires us

shellie johnson

shellie johnson

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shellie johnson

The Mother Hen The quality of life that a community has to offer is only as good as what its residents are willing to work for. The people at EnSite make Shellie Johnson excited to come to work everyday. “I work with a fantastic, energetic and creative group that is respectful of one another and most important, likes to have fun,” she said. Working with and taking care of the needs of a small firm is a natural extension of small-town home life for the LaBelle resident. Loose ends are a foreign concept to Shellie, as her focus on details runs deeper than even her credentials from the American Institute of Certified Planners can testify. Shellie is one of EnSite’s owners and in her role as Planning Director, she assists private clients in gaining development entitlements to property. She also assists government jurisdictions with daily planning tasks such as development reviews and regulatory amendments, and with long-range planning projects. When she’s not at work, Shellie volunteers as President of the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corp. The group’s efforts have not only made good on its name, but it has also caused a resurgence in residents’ pride in their community and instilled a sense of ownership in the beautiful historic downtown. She enjoys being part of a small town and contributing her time and energy in preserving its sense of community while creating opportunity to encourage younger generations to stay there and prosper. Shellie is a recent widow who enjoys being close to her three stepchildren. Her three dogs run her life. She likes spending time in the outdoors, hiking, and kayaking. She loves to eat great food.
brent gibson

brent gibson

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brent gibson

The Solutions Guy Work smarter, not harder. Brent Gibson enjoys the laid-back, open culture and family-like atmosphere of the EnSite office, which he thinks promotes creativity. “Also, everybody has a voice in what happens with the company. Whether you’re the newest employee or one of the owners, your ideas will be heard and considered.” That flat organizational structure also has a way of encouraging folks to reach beyond their job descriptions to do whatever it is that has to be done. As Lead Designer, Brent does most of the civil engineering design. He also oversees production management, and is responsible for scheduling and getting the designs and plans out the door to clients and municipalities. He also serves as the in-house IT guy. The McGregor Veterinarian Clinic is one of many projects that served as a proving ground for Brent’s creative problem-solving skills. While employing low-impact development techniques, the EnSite team met the challenges presented by Lee County’s newly drafted Compact Communities Planned Development zoning code. This code emphasizes mixed-use and compact development, rather than separate uses with the large setbacks often seen in sprawl development. Brent has been married to his wife Emily for 16 years, and the couple has three boys and a girl between eight and 15 years old. He enjoys playing golf and basketball, and coaches youth basketball at the local YMCA. He’s also on the board for Big Brothers Big Sisters and is a mentor in the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools STAMP program. Twitter: @BGib4
brian smith

brian smith

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brian smith

The Design Doctor Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. The Golden Rule was frequently evoked by the single mom who raised Brian Smith and his older sister. Another favorite quote was “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Brian said, “Watching her struggle through life taught me the values of hard work and determination to make a better life for the family. She is certainly my early inspiration and drive to do better and to work hard and value what I have and to cherish family always.” Fortunately, coming to work at EnSite means much more than a paycheck to him. An EnSite owner, Brian values his co-workers, the atmosphere, and the variety of projects the team gets to work on. As Director of Land Design for the company, Brian is responsible for site planning and project management. It’s thrilling to prepare a plan that exceeds the client’s expectations, whether it is a 4,000-acre new community or a .75-acre commercial project requiring innovative design solutions. “Problems” is a word he banishes from his vocabulary. There exist, rather, solvable issues, and the team works with surgical precision to work out solutions to those issues. Few people are aware that Brian’s alternative career path would have led him to being an emergency room doctor. He maintains that laughter is the best medicine, and employs plenty of humor in his work and family life. He and his wife of 15 years, Christy, have two boys, aged 13 and 11. In keeping with his mom’s example, he says, “They are everything to me.” His family enjoys spending time outdoors.
jonathan romine

jonathan romine

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jonathan romine

The Big Picture Thinker There is no limit to what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. - John Wooden EnSite owner Jonathan Romine is obsessed with metrics. Aside from hard numbers, he has a major soft spot for people. Every day represents a new opportunity to help someone succeed or empower a whole community of “someones” to make a better future. Of course he pays close attention to the many details of running the business, from finance and investment to R&D and marketing strategy, but it’s the big picture that really matters. By maintaining everything in ship-shape condition, EnSite’s team can consistently deliver optimal results for its clients. His biggest consideration is the company’s culture, which is at the heart of everything EnSite does. On the practice side, Jonathan’s official title is Director of Landscape Architecture, but he describes himself as a “mentorholic.” All staff members are given room to grow their creative talents, develop their leadership skills, and pursue their dreams. Moreover, the organizational structure is horizontal, meaning no one holds a monopoly on good ideas. Jonathan’s passion is making a positive impact on the community in which he lives, works, learns, and plays. Therefore, he’s especially proud of EnSite’s public sector and non-profit projects, such as parks, community planning, redevelopment/infill plans, and arts and cultural institutions. Jonathan has a daughter, Ava, with wife Megan. He loves sports and travel, and supporting these community organizations: The Imaginarium Science Center (current President of the Board), The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools (Board Member and Mentor), Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce (Board Member), Rotary Club of Fort Myers South. Twitter: @rominejl
matt horton

matt horton

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matt horton

The Boundary Pusher It’s in the doing that the idea comes. Like every team member at EnSite, Matt Horton enjoys the horizontal structure, which affords him the opportunity to work in the trenches, where the best ideas come from. Top-down organizations often suffer some delusion when they think innovation can come from the ivory tower. As Director of Urban Design, Matt has been able to push boundaries and enjoy the freedom to develop innovative solutions. Every EnSite project is special, but a particularly gratifying one is Gardner’s Park in downtown Fort Myers. “This was probably the most fun of my career, because the owners and residents were very enthusiastic and helpful throughout the project,” he said. Starting out as a guava farm in the 1800s, Gardner’s Park is a lively district featuring community events, galleries, boutiques, cafés, theater, and attractions such as The Burroughs Home & Gardens, The Butterfly Estates, and the Langford-Kingston Historic Home. When he’s not leading EnSite’s urban design activities, Matt is doing the important work of being a dad to his two sons, ages eight and nine. Beyond those two jobs, he finds there are even more boundaries to push: having completed the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in Sarasota after losing a bet, he was hooked and has been training and competing ever since. He’s done three Ironmans, but not the big one in Hawaii…yet.

what makes us awesome

"All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions." - George Bernard Shaw

2012 Horizon Council General Business Award

2012 Horizon Council General Business Award

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2012 Gulfshore Business 40 under 40 Award - Jonathan Romine

2012 Gulfshore Business 40 under 40 Award - Jonathan Romine

2012 Florida Commissioner of Education Business Recognition Award

2012 Florida Commissioner of Education Business Recognition Award

2012 Chrysalis Award for Sustainability

2012 Chrysalis Award for Sustainability

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2012 Lee County School District Business Partner of the Year

2012 Lee County School District Business Partner of the Year

2010 Blue Chip Finalist

2010 Blue Chip Finalist

2010 Creating Better Places Design Competition - First Place Overall

2010 Creating Better Places Design Competition - First Place Overall

why ensite

"If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" - John Wooden

EnSite, Inc. has been passionate about improving the Southwest Florida community since it was founded in 2005. The firm is focused on sustainable design that engages and inspires. It achieves its award-winning results through a fanatical commitment to communication plus its unique combination of creativity, technical expertise, project management efficiency, and intelligent teamwork. We believe that any company’s ability to deliver results that exceed expectations is a necessary function of its organizational culture. EnSite’s culture, which is at the heart of everything we do, strongly emphasizes empowerment and accountability, collaboration, innovation, and a meaningful investment in the communities where we live, work, learn, and play. It’s a privilege to offer our services, which enhance the quality of life of the place we call home, including land planning, landscape architecture, civil engineering, and urban design. Every client receives focused personal attention by working directly with a principal of the firm, while EnSite’s collaborative team structure increases design efficiency and promotes creative problem-solving and creativity, leading to well managed projects and, most importantly, customer satisfaction. EnSite’s unique business model enables our clients to enjoy the talent, assets and results of a large firm, but with competitive fees and top-notch personalized service. Our principals possess great communication skills and are intimately involved in every project from start to finish—they personally plan, design, permit, inspect, and certify every single one. Our community engagement doesn’t end with our many projects. EnSite’s team members are engaged in many service organizations and projects outside of work. And as a team, we reach out to local schools, universities, municipalities, and organizations through our EnRichment program to educate students of all ages and establish relationships and civic engagement to further enhance the experience of living in Southwest Florida.

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2401 First Street
Suite 201
Fort Myers, FL 33901

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