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After designing Seaside and Rosemary Beach, DPZ CoDESIGN had the opportunity to plan a third community along the Florida Gulf Coast in 2003. Alys Beach further developed the principles of New Urbanism and was styled after the architecture of Bermuda and Antigua. The town is colored the same sugar-white as the beach it is built on, and this allows the buildings to reflect the sun and keep Alys Beach cooler. The town includes 158 developable acres, with an additional 20 acres set aside for wetland preservations.
Alys Beach is noted for its dedication to sustainability. This was the first community in the world that required for every home to be certified as FORTFIED, a special type of protection against storms. These houses have masonry roofs that protect the homeowner’s investment from inclement weather, and all households are further required to have insurance. Alys Beach also incorporates many innovative ways of protecting its environment; cobblestone streets are hand-set into deep layers of gravel that allow for one-third of rainwater to filter into the ground. Also, most of the plants in Alys Beach are native to the terrain and require little to no tending to be sustained. For all of these designs and regulations, Alys Beach was named the first “green development” in northwestern Florida by the Florida Green Building Coalition.Houses at Alys Beach.
The town was laid out to be a rural-to-urban Transect, with wetlands preserved in the north and housing becoming more dense as the community gets closer to the water. Near the water, the town is centralized around a waterfront plaza featuring an open-air auditorium and gathering space for the townspeople. This plaza also makes use of mixed-use designs, with apartments built along the tops of open-air gallerias of retail shops.Alys Beach's streetscape and green spaces.
Most of the town is comprised of villas, courtyard homes, and compounds; these compounds typically form mini-communities of their own, united by perimeter walls. The streetscape of Alys Beach also contributes to both its walkability and aesthetic pleasure. Wherever possible, the streets were drawn to point towards the water, maximizing the town’s view of the ocean and channeling the sea breeze north to keep the town cool.
Alys Beach competed the trio of new urbanist communities along Highway 30A designed by DPZ. It benefitted from the experience the company already had from designing the first two communities, and it was named one the “50 Most Beautiful Small Towns in America” by Architectural Digest in 2018.
Photo above: Access point to the town's beach.
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