Some years ago when the Florida real estate boom was in its heyday, the St. Joe Company which owned a major portion of the Panhandle began to develop a series of new resort towns along the Gulf of Mexico. With its CEO a former Disney Executive, the company then headquartered in Jacksonville based its resort imagery on the highly successful town of Celebration outside Orlando, and the town of Seaside on the Gulf, the highly publicized forerunner of the New Urbanist Movement.
McCurry was invited to join a team of nationally known architects to individually design single family prototype homes and mixed-used condominiums along “Good Morning Street” the main shopping street in a new town being developed named Windmark Beach. The town stretched for miles along Apalachicola Bay just north of old Port St. Joe, former home of the DuPont paper processing complex that gave the region its name and much of its employment. To actualize this site, St. Joe had relocated inland an entire section of state highway.
The firm’s retail and condominium building forms the eastern end of the Town Square. Designed in the vernacular traditions of northern Florida, large overhangs shade the elevations and protect pedestrians from inclement weather. The corrugated aluminum metal roof and indigenous red clay brick protect the building from salt spray while the punched aluminum railings with shapes reminiscent of sails and screens offer a whimsical element.
The ground floor retail spaces open onto the main street and the Town Square. The large extent of muntinized storefront glazing provides an ideal place for the residents to shop, socialize and enjoy the out-of-doors. Likewise, the condominium units are designed to take maximum opportunity of the views beyond the square to the gulf. Each unit also offers oblique views down the promenade of “Good Morning Street.”
McCurry’s model home grounds itself in the vernacular building traditions of northern Florida and is based on the native post Civil War four-square Georgian “town house” plan, also popular in urban centers to the north. Large overhangs and generous verandas that protect the building as well as its occupants from the harsh Florida elements are a particular regional adaptation. The exterior materials, corrugated aluminum and board and batten cement board, were chosen for ease of maintenance and resistance to the corrosive shore environment.