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

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.

The Mullet a Graffiti Art Showcase; Business in the front and Party in the Back

The Mullet Graffiti Art Showcase

This has to be one of Kudela & Weinheimer‘s most “fun” projects to work on. A graffiti art showcase! The owner Johnathan Estes, purchased a site with a 16,800 square foot warehouse and had an idea to have galleries in the front rooms and parties in the big open space behind those rooms which is where the name, The Mullet, came from. Inspired by the 80’s haircut, “business in the front, party in the back.”

Located southeast of town at 10900 Kingspoint, Kudela & Weinheimer Landscape Architects, working with Windle + Volpe Architects, has so far, designed a schematic plan for the 8.3 acre site which includes two amphitheaters, semi circular graffiti chapels (for lack of a better description), graffiti walls sprinkled throughout on a triangular patterned recycled concrete pathway and possibly a small retail/concessions building. One amphitheater is proposed as being bermmed with lawn seating and the other is a flat paved amphitheater. Proposed for the site are several smaller buildings which will be used for artists workshops.

The idea is to have a very flexible space that could be used for things like farmers markets, artists studios, community gardens, specialty events and small concerts and possibly even small businesses. The result should be one very eclectic and interesting space!

Check out the article in The Chronicle for more details about The Mullet

Visit The Mullet’s Facebook page

Kudela & Weinheimer Landscape Architects is a full-service landscape architecture firm with offices in Houston & San Antonio Texas. Registered in 13 states. 

K&W is a team of creatively talented quality conscious professional Landscape Architects with a growing national reputation who derive professional fulfillment from building projects that embody our client’s vision and purpose. Along the way we provide truly expert advice to our clients. We invest in the latest technology as a means for providing the highest quality deliverables while remaining competitive. We value our employees and view them as our greatest asset. We strive to gain the respect of everyone we meet though Honesty and Integrity.

Revving up for Revit, Building Information Modeling for Landscape Architecture

Jacob Galles - Revit Guru

Jacob Galles – K&W Revit Guru

Recently, Kudela & Weinheimer has begun work on two projects that require the use of Revit, a Building Information Modeling program. Revit is a brand of Building Information Modeling (hereafter BIM) software that has proven itself a powerful tool for the AEC industry. It functions by creating a single central file, each user works on a local file (copy of central file) commanding individual consultants to work collaboratively. This keeps Revit drawings fully coordinated in terms of building, layout, and site objects depicted in these drawings. Changes made to one representation model are propagated to the other representations, reducing editing time and increasing efficiency. Projects involving multiple collaborators require the original author of a specific element to make changes, a preventive measure to eliminate editing of another’s work without notification. Program features such as this eliminate contradictory construction documents and modifications that would pass unnoticed until the construction process!

To date, Revit has not been popular in the Landscape Architecture sector of AEC consulting. Program advice and consultation are limited, and real world scenarios that relate to Landscape Architecture have yet to be explored, much less published. The program has not necessarily been designed for Civil Engineers or Landscape Architects, and at current, Revit’s main versions include Architecture, MEP, and Structural. In terms of market share, Revit remains the most popular of BIM software currently available.

However, the demands of the AEC industry are changing and the software creators are hopefully working versions for landscape and civil sectors now. Graphically, Revit is impressive, its walk-through features and rendering capabilities are high quality and extremely realistic. Revit has the power to display incredibly accurate solar and lighting studies as well. Realizing the immense benefits of this program, K&W is currently adapting the architecture and structural versions for our personal use in landscape architecture. This adaptation is being accomplished by designing and constructing various elements not available in standard versions of Revit. Common landscape elements often utilized by K&W including: fences, gates, seat walls, fountains, pools, and outdoor kitchens are being constructed and added to our Revit library as this blog is being read. [Side note: solar studies help landscape architects to determine the amount of sun available at various times of the day, which helps to determine planting, pool placement and possible rates of evaporation of water from soils.]

Kudela & Weinheimer is working on Wallis State Bank and Schlumberger Center for Chemistry Excellence, which the owners require the use of Revit based design. As our office Revit guru, I’ve been working on creating office standards within the program that are functional for landscape design. Initially, it’s quite the learning curve, but with every step we become more versed in the program and our office becomes more efficient.

Yet another fantastic element of Revit that has contributed to its popularity within construction and development is automatic adjustment of building and job cost. Changes made within the program automatically adjust material quantities and types within cost estimates, providing immediate updates. The cost and material quantity component makes BIM software important to developers and contractors adhering to strict budgets. Secondly, consultants work abreast on each project, decreasing mistakes while influencing and increasing collaboration. A central database for the software allows all stakeholders to remain updated and aware of responsibilities, thus removing design conflicts and risks.

Kudela & Weinheimer is actively involved in every aspect of Revit, and realizes the potential of the program both for our office and Landscape Architecture as an industry. Adapting the program will allow Kudela & Weinheimer to become more efficient and involved in the design process, providing our clients with better solutions and more precise cost estimates.

Kudela & Weinheimer strives to stay ahead of the curve. We are a full service, commercial landscape architecture firm dedicated to client satisfaction and creative, functional, build-able, budget conscious landscape design. Registered in 13 states, Kudela & Weinheimer works all over. Call us for your next project, you will not be disappointed! Click here to see more about Kudela & Weinheimer Landscape Architects

Big Box Retailers Ahead of the Curve

Ryan Petree

Kudela & Weinheimer is a unique firm that gives its architect’s the ability to work on a wide range of projects. These can range from high-profile sky scrapers to big box retail. Surprisingly enough, it happens to be the retail market that is leading the charge for better building practices at the moment.

More and more retail projects are asking for advanced technology in regards to irrigation systems to better allow them to manage their typically large systems. This in turn leads to lower water bills. Large parking lots require much larger looped irrigation systems to reach the entire project site parameter planting and parking lot islands. Large systems can often mean more opportunity for a break in the system that can go unnoticed. Breaks can result in thousands of dollars in excess on water bills. High tech controllers (evapotranspiration controllers with weather stations) allow for a computerized system reports and monitoring that instantly recognized unusually high water usage for the irrigation zone with the break. The controllers can even shut off a particular zone, while the rest of the system runs and maintains a healthy landscape. These high-tech controllers in tandem with drip irrigation for planting areas often mean more efficient and more economical landscapes.

Controller used to detect breaks in large irrigation systems

Irrigation isn’t the only way retail projects are ahead of the curve. Landscape guidelines, from the client, have become more detailed and refined. This is not only in plant selection, but installation practices as well. The requirement of native and/or adaptive plants ensures the landscape is more tolerable in times of drought. This can be as simple as native or adaptive grasses and groundcovers in high heat areas such as parking lot islands. It also means that the material is grown closer to the project and reduces costs on shipping and ultimately the installation cost. Native and adaptive plants, in addition to responsible design help ensure that the project site fits in with the local style of the surrounding area.

Native & Adaptive Plants Example

Lastly, thorough construction administration (site inspections, monitoring and field reports) requirements help to lower overall maintenance costs. More site visits for inspections ensure less construction mistakes and a better finished project. This can mean higher consultant fees up front, but the inability for contractors to cut corners with more supervision on the project can pay dividends in the end. More material submittals also guarantees that plant material installed is consistent with the size and type specified in addition to being a better quality. Some clients are even requiring the more costly material such as trees to be tagged at the nursery by the Landscape Architect to ensure the best available plant material is installed on the site.

Retail projects often have less landscaping than other projects we work on, but that doesn’t mean they are inferior by any means.  If more projects took on the better building practices this part of the industry is embracing, development in general might be better off.

Written by Ryan Petree

Ryan spends a lot of time doing hands-on field work. Tasks including punching projects, tagging trees and ensuring installation quality control on site.