Among all of the bad news of layoffs in the energy industry….we bring good news! K&W is looking for detail oriented landscape architects that are drawn to the construction aspect of LA. If you love to see landscape design get built the way it was intended, you pay close attention to the details, and like to get out in the field – this is the job for you! Come work with Kudela & Weinheimer as a Construction Administrator, show us what you’ve got.
Bisnow released an email newsletter (see it at the link above) about the “Four Must-Have Amenities” for multifamily tenants. Not surprisingly, they include dog parks and pools. Kudela & Weinheimer has long known the power of amenities that bring the “WOW factor” and entice renters of multifamily developments. The better the amenities the more premium price you can get for the units as well.
#1 WiFi & #2 Fitness Centers: It’s obvious K&W doesn’t have anything to do with the WiFi or the fitness centers inside of buildings, however we do design spaces for fitness in the outdoors. Those amenities could include sand volleyball, basketball courts, tennis courts, lap pools, outdoor workout areas, and hike/bike running trails; but really the options are endless. So far we have only had a few requests for these types of outdoor amenities but we do get a lot of requests for more passive entertainment amenities such as putting greens, bocce ball, and movie theaters.
#3 Dog Parks: “About 60% of residents have pets (with most being dogs), and most have at least two dogs and consider them family” says Christina Natal.Dog parks are a highly demanded amenity for multifamily developments right now. With the increase in high density urban apartment homes, dog parks are being placed in very clever places such as garage rooftops, easements, and flood plain areas. Occasionally multifamily developers will even purchase an adjacent partial of land or devote a section of their current land to design and develop a public dog park which offers improvement amenities not only to residents but also to the community, doing this can sometimes lessen community push-back and complaints on the development itself.
#4 Swimming Pools: Probably one of the biggest selling features of a multifamily development is it’s pool (even if it goes unsaid). Regardless of whether the tenants use it or not, it’s sort of assumed that when renting an apartment that you get a nice pool, especially when renting a “Luxury Apartment Home”. Nine times out of 10, the pool is visible from the leasing office; that is not an accident! First impressions can make or break a deal whether it’s at an apartment, office building, institution or other! Hint, hint, LANDSCAPE IS IMPORTANT.
When multifamily communities are competing for renters the amenities become one of their most important assets, especially amenities that make a first impression. Admit it, no one wants to invite their friends over to a dumpy looking place.
Kudela & Weinheimer (K&W) is a professional services landscape architecture firm located in Houston and San Antonio. Founded in 1991 by Thad Kudela and Darin Weinheimer, K&W has grown from a two man shop to a thriving firm that has completed over 3,000 projects as they approach their 25th anniversary. With exemplary work on landmark, award winning projects such as Memorial Hermann Medical District in Memorial City, Town & Country Village and Carruth Plaza at Reliant Stadium, K&W is proud to have become one of Texas’ largest landscape architecture firms.
Landscape Architecture is often perceived as a discipline that chooses plants, lays out sidewalks, and designs pools that gather immense amount of children at your home on your days off. In reality, we are much more than that. We are many disciplines all rolled into one: Horticulture, Engineering, Agriculture, Architecture, Urban Planning, Soil Science, and many others. But the most important discipline that we employ is most often overlooked: Psychology. Beautiful designs do not just happen. They apply the proper use of lines, colors and textures to provide contextual clues to the brain that innately prompt people into performing certain movements to guide them through a space.
One of my focuses in graduate school at the University of Oregon was Understanding the Psychology of Social Spaces. Each time I have to design a space here at K&W, I program spaces according to the desired level of covert and overt socialization and the amount of movement that supports the primary function, depending on if it is a transition or gathering area. Then I use a combination of design guidelines that intuitively cue people into using the space appropriately. For example, when I design transition zones, I do not use many vertical lines because those imply a focus, to stop and look at. Instead, I use more horizontal lines that are easy for the eye to follow and simultaneously encourage movement. I use trees that have more horizontal branching habits, such as pines, white oaks, and some maples, but not a willow or a cypress. I use fences that have horizontal planks instead of vertical ones. I use pavement materials that are long and linear, not short and facing opposite the flow of traffic. Even the simplest details should reflect the use of an area. When choosing colors for splash pad equipment, I use color combinations that are opposite on the color wheel for the stationary objects that are vertical. It implies a focus point, especially with the water falling down around it. For elements like the loops that children are supposed to run through, I choose colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. These imply movement, or transition. All of these principles create a cohesive, psychologically functional social space.
These are only a few of the design principles that designers can apply to make spaces more comfortable and easy to use. Too often we forget that “the pretty” can and should be functional and fit into the appropriate context of the overall site program. If you would like more information on design tactics like these, I would recommend looking at the book A Pattern Language. The University of Oregon campus is designed according to those principles in the book and has been commended for proper use of wayfinding methods, placement and size of green spaces, and retaining important connections to major buildings on site.
Click on the pictures below to show direct examples of the landscape design tactics talked about above.
Due to a bond program that was approved in 2007, the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department has made substantial improvements over the last few years in their park system. The residents, my family included, have reaped many benefits from the enhancements. There are a wide variety of options available. My son loves the variety of playgrounds, I enjoy the different trail types and locations, and there are several dog parks for all the dog lovers.
Knowing how much I use & enjoy getting out and visiting the city parks, I am especially excited that K&W’s San Antonio office was recently selected to perform design services on park improvements for two parks. In 2012, the citizens approved another bond, which included $87.15 million for park improvements on 42 parks. K&W was selected to work on New Territories & Oscar Perez Parks. These parks are located on the northwest side of San Antonio. They are each going to get $350,000 worth of trail improvements, which K&W will have the benefit of designing.
Working at K&W, we do many open spaces and parks, but most are for private developers. We’re excited about the opportunity to serve in the public sector. The design work hasn’t started yet, but I will definitely be bringing my family to enjoy these parks when they’re complete and will be excited to post another blog entry showing the finished improvements.
Kudela & Weinheimer’s San Antonio office was established in 2006. The office has five employees and works on a diverse array of projects. Some notable San Antonio projects include The Broadway Condominiums and 1221 Broadway Lofts at River North.
K&W not only designs with people in mind, they design with Fido in mind. The newest trend for multifamily developments is the addition of dog parks. Giving residents an oasis for their four-legged friends provides yet another selling point for luxury and urban apartment homes. Dog parks have become a necessary amenity for high-end residential leasing.
Some developers will go to extremes to make sure their resident pooches have a nice and tidy place to get some fresh air. Recent examples of cutting edge development include Gables Park Plaza II in Austin, Gables Memorial Hills, Gables Bering, Gables West Ave, 2411 Washington, Greystar Champions and Tuscany Court. The developers of these projects have asked Kudela & Weinheimer to design top-notch dog parks for their residents’ furry companions, some even have doggy potties, state of the art Extreme Dog Washers and extra special Green Links Turf for on-structure dog parks. It’s no wonder these multifamily developers want to keep their residents happy by providing amenities for their dogs, because according to Bloomberg Businessweek, Americans spend $41 billion a year on their pets!
Want to see more of Kudela & Weinheimer’s projects?