At Sweet SparkmanArchitecture and Interiors, coastal architecture is both a specialty and a passion, and one of our latest projects shows why.

When charged with designing a Welcome and Discovery Center for Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach, the vision was clear. The goals were two-fold: creating a structure that could stand up to destructive forces of nature, like high winds, rising waters and high temperatures, while drawing from the natural beauty in its surrounding ecosystems to make it unique.

A good example is our approach to elevating the building to accommodate coastal flooding. AsSweet Sparkman partner and architect John Bryant noted, "We didn't want to put it on stilts and call it a day." Instead, the new structure was designed to be built on columns that mirror the rugged mangrove root systems that protect the barrier island. Some of those columns extend to the roof's full height to give the impression of a building nestled within roots, and those in the courtyard provide nooks for visitors.

The intentional, careful harmonization of nature's twin beauty and strength is the obligation exemplary coastal design demands.

Funded by the FloridaDepartment of Environmental Protection - Division of Recreation and Parks and the non-profit Friends of Lovers Key (FOLKS), the building includes a 2,000 square foot. environmental exhibit center, a 1,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose, and a large, covered deck providing outdoor classroom space for environmental education programs. Designed for resiliency, it will provide an event venue and showcase for the park's ecologies for years to come.  

To learn more about this project and Sweet Sparkman's philosophy, download our case study, "Lovers Key Welcome and Discovery Center: Building for Coastal Resiliency."

April 30, 2021