Dover and Kohl Win Prestigious Seaside Prize for Planning Designs

Firm Authored the Award-Winning Lake Wales Connected Plan

 

Last updated 8/13/2023 at 1:58pm

Robert Connors

Victor Dover, left, and partner Joe Kohl has become familiar faces to many area residents as they bring their skills and insights to bear on the challenges of reinvigorating the sleepy downtown historic district of Lake Wales and the broader scope of the entire city utility service area.

The partners who founded a planning firm that has become closely identified with Lake Wales have been announced as the 2024 recipients of the prestigious Seaside Prize, presented annual by the SEASIDE Institute.

The award will recognize Victor Dover and Joe Kohl, who in 1987 founded the Miami-based town planning firm, Dover, Kohl & Partners.

The prize, which is awarded annually, celebrates individuals or organizations whose life's work or accomplishments are emblematic of the Institute's mission of inspiring livable communities. The celebration will take place the weekend of February 2 through February 4, 2024, in Seaside, Florida. with a variety of events and symposia themed, "New Urbanism: Frontiers Remain."

The community of Seaside,and neighboring Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach are among the enormously successful "New Urbanism" developments built in the Florida panhandle region which have created walkable towns and town centers with evocative architecture and lifestyles.

The 2024 honorees, Dover and Kohl, are known for their work as reformers, revitalizing traditional towns, fixing sprawl, creating new neighborhoods and citywide and regional plans. They have been leaders in integrating better collaborative methods and meaningful citizen involvement in city planning reform.

Since 1987 the firm has directed the rebirth of scores of American cities and neighborhoods, including central Florida success stories such as Winter Park and Winter Garden, while winning widespread recognition among planners. Dover, Kohl & Partners also designed the restoration plans for historic downtown Panama City, Florida and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Dover, Kohl & Partners led the effort that created the Lake Wales Connected plan now being constructed in Lake Wales, It builds upon the town's original "Garden City" concepts and the enhancements introduced by the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The firm is now engaged in the Lake Wales Envisioned effort, which endeavors to apply those same design standards to a broad swath of surrounding city and county to assure that development here will leave the historic character of the city intact and expand upon it.

With their firm, a common thread has been "visualizing change before it occurs": to demonstrate a positive future with vivid illustrations that motivate investment into older neighborhoods, using historic principles in neighborhood design to produce beautiful and well-functioning places, and to bring awareness to citizens. Kohl says, "There's nothing quite like watching people take pride in their communities, implementing positive change."

Trained first as architects, holding B.Arch. and M.Arch. degrees, Dover and Kohl have devoted their careers to the bigger picture, focusing on the architecture of community. Both have been made Fellows by the Congress for New Urbanism.

Victor Dover's work as an urban designer, town planner, and futurist combines design excellence with community engagement, influencing urban planning projects around the world. He is the co-author of Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns, considered the leading textbook on the topic, and he has created a growing series of short films called Town Planning Stuff Everyone Should Know. Dover is known to admonish growing suburbs that "the wrong time to decide to have high standards is after all the land has already been built on according to low standards." A habitual bike commuter, Dover is also a five-time Ironman triathlete.

Joe Kohl has consistently demonstrated a balanced commitment to both innovative design and sustainable practices. He is known for investigating problematic situations and offering solutions through physical design, whether for a building, a street, a neighborhood, or a municipality. To do that, he designs site plans, prepares redevelopment plans, and writes (or rewrites) land development regulations. Kohl wears multiple hats that include business owner, code writer, park designer, house designer, student of urban history, webmaster, illustrator and modeler, property manager, genealogist, antique furniture collector, and futurist (even famously exploring how to take New Urbanism off-world).

Courtesy the SEASIDE Institute

This four-and-a-half minute video explains the significance of the Seaside Prize and the planning concepts and honorees it recognizes.

"The Seaside Prize is a testament to the tremendous impact Victor Dover and Joe Kohl have had on the built environment. Their collective expertise has the power to inspire future generations of architects, urban planners, and community developers to shape cities that are connected, livable, and sustainable," said Seaside Institute Director, Christy Milliken.

The Seaside Institute will formally present the Seaside Prize to Victor Dover and Joe Kohl at the awards ceremony on February 3, 2024, by Seaside, Florida Founder, Robert Davis. The ceremony will be hosted at The Chapel at Seaside, the central event of a weekend dedicated to reflection, celebration, and inspiration.

For more information about the Seaside Prize and the Seaside Institute, please visit their website at seasideinstitute.org.

 

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