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Willis Smith Construction selected as the Construction Management Firm for the Master Plan for the Garden

13 Dec 2018 10:43 AM | Anonymous

Willis Smith Construction selected as the Construction Management Firm for the Master Plan for the Garden

Willis Smith Construction was recently awarded the construction contract for Phase One of the Master Plan for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The infrastructure will span along the botanical gardens’ 15 acres of Bayfront property. The project will preserve and protect Selby Gardens’ world-class collections and create a future with 50 percent more green space for the Gardens. Once completed, Selby Gardens will possess the first Certified Net Positive Energy Complex at any botanical garden in the world. Further, the onsite restaurant will be the first Certified Net Positive Energy Restaurant in the world.

“We are thrilled to have Willis Smith Construction lead the construction of this important project,” says Jennifer Rominecki, President & CEO of Selby Gardens. “Their history of building community landmarks in Sarasota is unparalleled. They understand the needs and desires of the community and will help Selby Gardens fulfill our vision as a leader in sustainability around the world.”

Phase One of the Master Site Plan will consist of a multi-story visitor services facility, the Sky Garden, that will include retail space, 221,000 square foot of parking and a destination restaurant operated by Michael’s on East. Each exterior wall of the Sky Garden will become a living facade to facilitate the green building technology.

The Certified Net Positive Energy designation will achieve PETAL certification as part of the Living Building Challenge. This advocates regenerative spaces that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and communities that produce more energy than they use. A solar power system will be atop the roof of the Sky Garden. The solar arrays will be capable of generating 840 kWh per year. Underground water storage will house cisterns for rainwater collection holding 250,000 gallons of water for non-potable water usage.

Plans for the future Jean Goldstein Welcome Center and Steinwachs Family Plant Research Center have been envisioned. The 27,700 square foot welcome and research center will include a welcome gallery, horticulture and herbarium shop, theatre, administrative offices, library, and laboratory. Plans also include the implementation of the “living” green wall systems within the facility. The improved facility will further enable Selby Gardens’ scientific research specializing in the conservation, display and study of epiphytic plants; continuing education; additional exhibitions and increasing partnerships internationally. The Master Plan will encourage and galvanize recognition of the work performed by Selby Gardens, while enriching the experience of guests from around the world.

Pending permit and zoning approvals, Phase One of the Master Plan could begin as early as fall 2019.

The Project Team will include Willis Smith Construction, Overland Partners, Kimley-Horn, and OLIN.

John LaCivita, Executive Vice President of Willis Smith Construction stated, “As long as I can remember, Selby Gardens’ has always been a Sarasota landmark and a true diamond in the rough for the region. Being a native of Sarasota, Selby has always been special. When the opportunity appeared to be part of the team that would completely transform Selby Gardens for the future, it became my full focus. After witnessing everything Jennifer Rominiecki, President & CEO has achieved since 2015, I knew Willis Smith Construction had to be part of her collaborative team. Ms. Rominiecki is a true leader and has amazing vision. Our company could not be more blessed and honored to be part of the future of Selby, and we are looking forward to helping Selby Gardens and Jennifer Rominiecki reach their end goal.”

Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc. is a construction management firm headquartered in Lakewood Ranch, primarily serving Southwest Florida since 1972. The company has a longstanding reputation for superior construction and offers its clients particular expertise in the areas of commercial, industrial, education, healthcare, museum specialty work and sustainable construction. Willis A. Smith Construction serves to promote excellence and integrity in the construction industry while contributing to the betterment of our clients and the communities we serve.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Peggy Kronus at 941-366-3116 or email at

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