I like cranes. When I say that, most people assume I’m talking about birds, and that’s not surprising. I’m that person on the golf course who pulls out my cell phone to take pictures of deer and pauses mid-swing to listen to the wind while my companions roll their eyes and say, “Let’s go!”
One afternoon last September, I stopped my cart in the middle of the fairway at Heathrow Country Club and counted 14 sandhill cranes milling around like they were at a cocktail party. Their honking, chattering calls echoed off the lake, and I recorded them on my phone. They were enchanting. I have a special affinity for these tall gray birds, and it’s unusual to see more than two or three at a time.
But no, I’m talking about construction cranes. There’s something exciting about driving down Interstate 4 or State Road 408 and seeing all the activity. I’ve been known to count the construction cranes on the skyline as I drive by … “10, 11, 12” … and then proudly tell my friends who don’t live here how cool it is to be in Orlando, where you can literally see change in the air.
When I travel through other cities and towns, I stop to look at construction projects, wondering what’s coming next. In the past several years, I’ve taken photos of work sites in St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Key West, Miami, Savannah, Dallas, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Chicago, Washington, St. Louis, Baltimore, Toronto, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and countless places in between. It’s fascinating to see the “before” and “after” of each project.
Oddly enough, I’ve also taken pictures of birds and plants in each of those locations. It reminds me that the best construction projects integrate natural elements into their design, leaving space for people to enjoy the outdoors.
When we talked about what to write about for the cover story this month, with a theme of commercial real estate and construction, we had so many incredible choices here in Central Florida. You can see pictures of some of our region’s most interesting projects on Pages 26 through 29.
I knew we had to write about Tavistock because of the way the company is continuing to transform what southeast Editor-in-ChiefOrlando will look like in decades to come. Tavistock has been creating the medical city of Lake Nona, and it will soon start work on the neighboring Sunbridge community that will straddle Orange and Osceola counties. It’s exciting to see the kinds of innovative structures that are coming out of the ground and providing jobs for today and tomorrow.
In reporting the article, I drove to Lake Nona one day to look for cranes, and I saw signs of construction everywhere. But I also saw cows, and people walking dogs and riding bikes and sitting outside enjoying the sun. There’s something peaceful about living or working in an ultra-urban setting that’s still surrounded by wetlands and cow pastures. In downtown Orlando, where I live in one of the historic neighborhoods, we connect with nature by spending time in our parks and green spaces. It helps relieve the stress of our high-tech, fast-paced lives.
I’m pleased to see our local developers are keeping this in mind as they create new landscapes and improve our future.