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

Must-Have Amenities for Multifamily

Four Must-Have Amenities – Multifamily Bisnow.

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. 

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.

Fulton Gardens was a Finalist at ULI Development of Distinction Awards 2013

Fulton Gardens. <<< Watch This Video!

Alongside of Insite Architecture, who created a modern senior living facility, Kudela & Weinheimer was responsible for the landscape design at Fulton Gardens. As mentioned in this video, Fulton Gardens was developed as a place for residents to have a place to “get to know each other.” Kudela & Weinheimer is proud to say that they could be a part of touching these senior residents’ lives by giving them beauty and functionality in their outdoor space.

Food & The Community

Author - Danielle Bilot

Author – Danielle Bilot

I have been interning at Kudela & Weinheimer for five months now. Since I began, I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, from Master Planning Communities to Multi-Family Developments, creating plans that enhance the sense of community and ownership of the land. I set out to see how I could integrate into the Kudela & Weinheimer family while using my focus in graduate school to help the company and myself stand out against the rest.

My focus in graduate school involves local food initiatives, native pollinators, and master planning for food security. Having never lived in the south before, I needed to first understand what the native plants are, what pollinators they attract, and how to integrate them into plans to increase foraging areas for native pollinators. If pollinators cannot see or smell the flowers they retrieve pollen and nectar from, they cannot survive. Placing more small pockets of these native plants within larger residential developments increases the chance of a local urban agriculture plot being prolific.

I also showed interest in taking on projects that include urban agriculture components. I have completed plans for a new senior living community that contains vegetable and herb plots, as well as fruiting trees. I also was given the opportunity to work with a local organization called Recipe for Success. I created an interactive slide show and brought samples of organic fruits and vegetables for the 4th and 5th graders at Briscoe Elementary School. It presented the foods they normally eat for lunch and how they effect their school and recreation performance, what benefits fresh foods have over things like chicken nuggets, and how to spot edible foods and local pollinators in their area. I hope to continue to be involved in projects like these at K&W and to start to create another marketable area for future K&W projects.

Danielle Bilot is an intern with Kudela & Weinheimer. Ms. Bilot has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from University of Wisconsin and is currently working on a Master of Landscape Architecture from University of Oregon.

Highland Tower Receives Second National Award

Ziegler Cooper Architects: Highland Tower Receives Second National Award.

Kudela & Weinheimer worked with Ziegler Cooper Architects on Highland Tower Luxury Condominiums.

The tower includes a fifth floor terrace, which Kudela & Weinheimer has designed an infinity edge pool with sun shelf, covered outdoor pool-side pavilion with barbecue grill and outdoor fireplaces, green space with fountains and paved courtyards. Highland Tower also has an impressive entry drive with porte-cochere drop off and street level landscaping to enhance it’s urban location, also designed by K&W.

See more about Highland Tower Condominiums

Eagle Ford Shale: Housing Boom

You might ask, “What the heck does Landscape Architecture have to do with the Eagle Ford Shale?”

From the drilling that has recently begun in the Eagle Ford, a 400 mile long shale formation, an “economic boom” has emerged.  It has been touted as “Texas’ Single Largest Economic Development in history,” stated by The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas in Texas. The boom has created approximately 29,700 jobs in 2011 and will create thousands more within the upcoming year.

With these new job creations, many small and rural towns are starting to have shortages in housing, hotels and retail. In response, developers are beginning to construct temporary housing, semi-permanent housing and multifamily developments for employees of the Eagle Ford Shale.  An interesting article about the Eagle Ford Shale Economic impact can be read here.

Currently the San Antonio Kudela & Weinheimer landscape architecture team is working on various projects for Koontz McCombs directly related to the Eagle Ford Shale economic boom.

  1. Sendero Ranch, a 23 acre site in Pearsall, Texas, has space for approximately 100 semi-permanent homes along with highway frontage property for future hotels.  Developed by Koontz McCombs, the site offers wooded lots and on site amenities such as laundry facilities and outdoor gathering areas so that residents can enjoy their families and newly made neighbors and friends.
  2. Sendero Ranch in Dilley, Texas, yeah yeah, I know same name – I thought that was weird too. This site is notably larger at 130 acres, 30 acres being slated for semi-permanent housing, 9 acres being slated for tract homes, and other acreage being slated for industrial and commercial use.   This site also offers on site amenities such as laundry facilities and outdoor gathering areas.
  3. Multifamily development is also growing in Midland/Odessa, Texas.  Brownstone Apartments, located on a 13 acre site, will have 268 units, an outdoor cabana and entertainment area, and some great recreation amenities.  This is one of three active projects in the area.

Some other interesting articles about the economic boom caused by the Eagle Ford Shale fracking.
The Chron
The San Antonio Business Journal

The San Antonio office of Kudela & Weinheimer has been in operation since 2006, 5 years. The office has five employees at the moment but continues to grow and take on interesting and challenging landscape projects and are always looking for talented landscape architects. Matthew Moczygemba is the Principal-in-Charge of the San Antonio office and has successfully led his landscape architecture team on projects such as the Broadway Luxury Condominiums and 1221 Broadway Lofts, UT Health Science Center South Texas Research Facility and federal projects such as Fort Sam METC and IMCOM.