We’re Still Hiring!

SetWidth360-Hiring-2013 (1)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.

Mid-Level LA Construction Admin

Butterflies at St. Luke’s Hospital in The Woodlands

Kudela & Weinheimer is honored to be the designers for the Butterfly Garden at St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital. The goal of this ½ acre project is to provide a peaceful, beautiful area for patients and their family members to relax and reflect. The space includes trellises, berms, benches with donor names engraved on them, and donation pavers throughout. The garden also features plants that are not only native and adaptive to the area but also attract butterflies, it overlooks the lake adjacent to the hospital. Butterfly gardens supply food and shelter for all phases of a butterfly’s life which includes caterpillar food plants, butterfly nectar plants and sunshine. Stones incorporated into the garden are helpful because they absorb some of the heat and provide a basking spot. Damp and shady areas are also needed for them to get water and retreat when temperatures get too hot. Butterflies are cold blooded creatures and need warm (but not too hot) resting places. Both nectar plants and host plants (where butterflies will lay their eggs) are needed. Butterflies tend to lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. Plants they like include lantana which is very heat tolerant, milkweed, zinnias, butterfly bushes, pentas, salvia, batface cuphea, verbena, coreopsis, and fire bush. Perennials they enjoy include Echinacea, lavender, joe-pye weed and penstemmon. This is a donor funded project through St. Luke’s and is one of many examples of how St. Luke’s utilizes donations to touch the lives of patients. 

St. Luke's Butterfly Garden Schematic Design

St. Luke’s Butterfly Garden Schematic Design and Idea board

If you would like to give a gift to St. Luke’s to see this or other projects come to fruition, please contact Mr. James Nicas at the St. Luke’s Foundation, 832.355.5857!
St. Luke’s The Woodlands is located on the west side of I-45 at College Park Drive, in The Woodlands of Course. K&W has worked on other projects for this hospital including the front drop off expansion area and the Main Street Extension. Sr. Project Manager Wesley Salazar continues to manage this interesting project. 


Psychology of Social Spaces

Author - Danielle Bilot

Author: Danielle Bilot

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.

Ms. Bilot, our “Bee Lady” as we affectionately like to call her – you’ll find out why soon enough if you stay tuned to the blog, has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from University of Wisconsin and a Master of Landscape Architecture from University of Oregon. Ms. Bilot was acknowledged in GROW – Wisconsin’s Magazine for the Life Sciences for the positive effects of the Neu-Life Park built in Milwalukee. Having multiple awards under her belt, she is a talented landscape designer. Danielle has a passion for alternative methods of transportation (she rides her bike to work daily…IN HOUSTON) and organic, hormone free, non-gmo foods. She is, to say the least, our resident hippie.

Landscape Architecture Has Healing Powers – Menninger Clinic Grand Opening in Houston, Texas

April 12, 2012 Menninger Clinic held a grand opening of it’s new Houston, Texas, John M. O’Quinn Foundation Campus, near South Post Oak Blvd and S. Main Street. With probably three hundred plus attendees, it turned out to be a perfect day for an outdoor event, where all could enjoy the landscaped grounds that Kudela & Weinheimer designed. The weather has recently been warm in Houston, but the sun was behind the clouds and the temperature outside was nice with a slight breeze through the courtyard.

Directly in the middle of the healing garden courtyard, set up on the labyrinth, the grand opening took place under a white tent. Ian Aitken, President and CEO of The Menninger Clinic began the ceremony with a welcome speech, followed by other words of thanks and appreciation from various members of Menninger Clinic’s Board of Directors and other influential medical professionals and community leaders. As a special addition, the Lt. Governor, David Dewhurst, spoke about mental health and how it’s touched so many families including his own.

The medical buildings were designed by Kirksey Architects with a Frank Lloyd Wright inspiration to invoke a strong sense of warmth and home. Special touches reminiscent of Wright included design motifs in masonry, stained glass, woodwork, lighting, carpets and retired fabric designed by Wright were used for patient room window treatments. There are approximately 185,000 sf that have a capacity for 120 patients. Each medical building was meticulously designed for safety with clear lines of vision, quick access doors on units, custom-made door pulls, continuous door hinges, break away shower curtains and draperies, multiple patient room lighting options without electrical cords and security cameras.

In addition to the carefully designed buildings the landscaping and therapeutic healing gardens are an extremely important consideration for the medical campus. Healing gardens have been used for over a thousand years to aid in healing of mental and physical ailments; although the practice had been diminished over time as medical technology advanced in the 20th century, it is coming back as a complementary aspect to western medical technology. The purpose behind a meditation/healing garden is to provide a soothing, peaceful and relaxing place that evokes calmness, which research has proven to have therapeutic benefits. Roger Ulrich, a professor at The Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University, presented a paper entitled “Health Benefits of Gardens in Hospitals” that focuses on the importance of including landscaped healing gardens to reduce stress and provide a pleasant distraction to compliment the sterile hospital architectural presence.

650 Trees were planted on the medical site. 50 of those trees were mature. A tree spade is used to move and transplant large trees from one site to another.

The Menninger Faculty and Staff recognize the importance of including healing gardens at their facility, and carefully considered the landscape development from Kudela & Weinheimer for the site. The healing gardens at the new Menninger Clinic, John M. O’Quinn Campus, are lush landscaped grounds that are functional, maintainable and visually pleasing. With a 50 acre site and approximately $3 million for landscaping; Kudela & Weinheimer was able to conceptually design and create a cohesive and beautiful healing medical campus. The original site began as a flat, uninteresting, unwooded area that Kudela & Weinheimer transformed to have over 650 trees, 50 of which were mature “Century Trees” used in the courtyard. The smallest trees used on the site were 100 gallon.

While a healing garden must be simple, to keep the space easy to understand, it also needs to include a variety of texture, forms and color. Kudela & Weinheimer invested an ample amount of time conceptualizing the landscape for the 4-acre medical courtyard which hosts a labyrinth, berms, seating areas and meditation gardens. Custom artwork and sculptures provide a hard-surfaced interest to the healing gardens. An outdoor therapeutic saltwater swimming pool and outdoor dining arbor contribute to socialization and physical activity, which Is imperative for mental well-being. All of these landscaped pockets provide an easy to understand, soothing outdoor space with a healthy variety of sensory stimulation to aid in the recovery of The Menninger Clinic’s patients.

There are a few special and unique touches that are a part of the landscape design, including a 2-ton sculpture, “The Vital Balance,” that has been relocated from the original medical clinic in Topeka, Kansas, a sand volleyball court and a chef’s herb garden located outside of the open kitchen. Each unit also includes an open air landscaped terrace, for a more private setting. In addition to these noted special features, The Menninger Clinic Campus was also designed and built to LEED® certification standards.

Kudela & Weinheimer is proud to have provided landscape design that will assist with the healing and care of The Menninger Clinic’s program at the Houston, Texas campus. Visit our website for more medical related projects.

The Menninger Clinic is a world leader in medical psychiatric treatment, research and education.