Architectural Shift


In His Element: Danny Garcia’s Elemental Architecture

Danny Garcia shakes up Naples’ design landscape with his signature elemental homes.

BY May 1, 2022
elemental architecture Danny Garcia Design
Eager to break away from Mediterranean and transitional design, the architectural engineer developed his concept for elemental architecture based on the idea of using few quality materials that are exposed to reveal the home’s craftsmanship. (Photo Courtesy Danny Garcia Design)

Danny Garcia didn’t set out to completely disrupt residential architecture in Southwest Florida. The Naples-based architectural engineer swears it was all a happy accident—but then again, he’s not making any apologies. The one-person movement began innocently enough when one of the commercial projects he was working on in Colorado got scrapped, and someone offered him the unused steel. While most people would have quickly passed (Who has time to deal with 37 flat-beds worth of heavy metal?) Garcia realized he had both the room and the opportunity to build a unique second home on his 2.5-acre lot. “I knew I could create something that was against everything that was done in Naples, in terms of architecture and design,” he says. So he said yes to the steel and, inadvertently, to a new career.

By the time Garcia’s home was complete, people around town were already talking. After all, the poured concrete walls, floor-to-ceiling glass curtain windows, soaring 25-foot ceilings and industrial-chic finishes stood out among the transitional new builds around town. With his design, Garcia set out to create a unique architectural style for Naples, founded on the use of raw materials. His home—like all the projects that follow—exhibits an open layout, water features and a minimal design made up of a few core materials: steel, glass, wood and concrete. The skeleton is exposed, showcasing the quality of the materials and craftsmanship of the design and leaving little room for error.

The home’s energy efficiency was also a hot topic—$500 electric bills for 10,000 square feet during the height of summer is something even the wealthiest folks want to hear more about. And because the Garcia family loves to entertain, sometimes hosting more than 200 people in a single weekend, they had a steady stream of curious visitors. It was just a matter of time before guests started making offers, and in the summer of 2021, someone made one that he couldn’t refuse. 

Thanks to the warm reception around town, he decided to take his passion project into the professional realm. He called up his close friend, acclaimed New York City architect Danny Forster, to collaborate and started buying land around Naples, including a lot directly behind his original home. Then, he got to work designing two much larger projects, both of which sold before they broke ground. “Almost right away, we had 10 potential buyers. Some even forwarded the plans to their personal architects, and we got tremendous feedback,” Garcia says. “The homes are incredibly strong—almost like a Brutalist concrete building—but with some elegance and refinement. This is not 1980s Miami Vice.”

The buzz has led to fast growth at Garcia’s eponymous company, Danny Garcia Design, in workforce size (18 employees and growing) and scope. These days, services include everything from architectural design, general contracting and construction to concrete mixing and casting. They’ve also added interiors services to the menu. “Our English Oaks project is completely turn-key. What you see is what you get,” Garcia says. Every home comes with a complete rendering with every detail laid out—down to the Arhaus and Restoration Hardware furnishings. Though, clients are welcome to bring in their interior designer, too.

Even as Garcia and his team take on greater demand (“We’ve got a two-year backlog at the moment,” he says) and bigger challenges, his devotion to the industrial materials that started it all remains. “It’s the same steel, glass and concrete, but each project gets a little funkier or more elegant and sophisticated than the last,” he explains. “We’re creating compounds with houses that sit on at least 2.5 acres. Some have a guest house, a synthetic sports field or an extra-long lap pool. But no matter what, my goal remains the same: I want people to pull through their gates and enter their own interesting little world—a place that’s totally different than anywhere else in Naples.”