Seaside’s Academic Village

Seaside's Academic Village

After the installation of the cottages, the boardwalks, steps (stadium seating for the Lyceum lawn) fencing and other work took place. Recently, sculptor Mark Dickson from Tallahassee, gave the Seaside Institute “Messenger,” a 10-foot high, 600 lb. sculpture, to keep on display in the Village for several years. A very successful fundraiser was held to outfit the space with tables and chairs. In the last few months, the Village has been used by student and faculty from a half-dozen universities, writers, painters, and photographers for workshops and hosted several conferences. We consider this project a huge success already.

Photo Catalog of Cottage Installations

Local photographer Brandan Babineaux took a lot of great photos on April 16 and 17 when the Seaside Institute cottages were being moved in to the Lyceum.  To view these photos, visit

More to follow as the project develops!


Cottage Installations: Day Two

Cottage Installations:  Day Two

The 7th and final cottage was placed on the last foundation this morning at 9:30 a.m. The cottage will be ADA compliant and have ADA access to it with a ramp constructed on the Smolian Circle side. Still lots to do at the site between now and our (hopeful) completion date of April 30. A large boardwalk will be built to connect all of the cottages and form a central space for gathering. The access ramp and a living fence along Smolian will be built. And, a porch will be added to the center cottage on the south side to provide aesthetic balance. In addition, a large 10 X 20 roof will also be added to the same cottage on the Lyceum side. This will form a large porch, which will be furnished with tables and chairs.

Photo by Brandan Babineaux

Sponsor a Cottage and Become a Village Founder

Join the Academic Village Founder’s Circle by sponsoring a cottage for $25,000 and help us raise the funds needed to renovate all of the village cottages before opening day this spring. 

Four of the cottages have already been sponsored so only three remain!  

The terms are as follows.

1.  Cottage sponsors will be known as Seaside’s “Village Founders.” Each founder will have naming rights to his/her sponsored cottage, and a sign or plaque will be displayed on the cottage with that name. Signage to be determined by the Seaside Institute. 

2.  Founders will have access to the entire village for three weeks. These three weeks can be taken any time over the next five years but must be taken in week-increments and not conflict with Institute programming.  Founders may schedule a work conference or retreat in the village, or donate the weeks to a non-profit organization.  The cottages can not be advertised or used as public rental property and will be used only in coordination with the Seaside Institute. Please contact Institute director Diane Dorney for further details about this benefit.

During the next couple of months, we will see this long awaited project go from vision to reality.  Don’t miss your opportunity to “get in on it” with us.


Diane Dorney, Director

The Seaside Institute

The Academic Village is Under Construction!


The Seaside Institute has started construction of its academic village. The project, which has been in development for almost two years, involves installing seven cottages within the Lyceum, an area within Seaside devoted to education and other civic activities. The cottages will house students and instructors who will travel to Seaside to participate in courses, seminars and workshops primarily in the areas of the arts, architecture/planning and health and well-being.

Programming will be geared to a wide range of people – from high school, college and graduate level students to senior adults– and course offerings will be open to both boarders and day students. The village provides much-needed housing for students and teachers, while allowing participants to enjoy a collegial living environment where discussions can continue after class is officially over.

While many classes will be intended for students who have already embarked on a course of study, other classes are designed to awaken new interests. This spring the Institute will launch a series called “Discover Your Inner Artist,” which will offer five-day courses in photography, plein air painting, drawing and room design.

The academic village was included as part of the Seaside plan in late 1998, although the inclusion of student housing within the Lyceum has been discussed by Seaside’s founders, Robert and Daryl Davis, since the early 80s.  Several charrettes were held over the years in an attempt to jumpstart plans for this phase of the Lyceum but financing proved elusive.

The Seaside Institute has launched an “Adopt a Cottage” fundraiser to pay for renovations to the interiors of the houses.  Those who sign on for the program will become founding members of the academic village and have naming rights to a cottage, including other benefits. Thus far, four cottages have been claimed. Construction of the village is expected to be completed this spring.

Seaside is considered the first new urban community, demonstrating its principles for compact, walkable, mixed-use development, and is famous for both its urban design and architecture. Although known as the town of Seaside, it has no municipal government but is part of unincorporated Walton County, located along the Gulf of Mexico on the Florida Panhandle. Close to a million people pass through Seaside on an annual basis to visit the shops and restaurants or attend an event.

For more information about the Adopt-a-Cottage program or the upcoming spring series, please contact Seaside Institute director, Diane Dorney, at