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. 

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.

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.

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

Creating a Sense of Community & Pride

Author Wesley Salazar, Project Manager

One of the many ways that Kudela & Weinheimer has been able to aid in the beautification of the City of Houston and help create a sense of community pride in various parts of the city has been through the use of the Adopt-An-Esplanade program.

The Adopt-An-Esplanade program is a collaborative effort between the City of Houston and any local management district, civic association or business owner that allows for the adoptee to enhance their esplanades through the addition of landscape, irrigation, decorative paving materials and in some cases, community/district markers that meet the adoption programs design standards.

Once the construction of the esplanades is complete and has passed all city inspections, the deed of gift is issued over and the City of Houston will graciously pay for all water utilized by the irrigation system. This is a win-win situation for the both the beautification of the city and adoptee.

Kudela & Weinheimer has successfully designed and have been involved in the construction of over 120 medians throughout the City of Houston. We not only want to make sure our designs reflect what is representative of that specific community and create a form of identification, but we make sure that the installation of the design is successfully completed through weekly site inspections and documentation.

Kudela & Weinheimer has had the opportunities to work with various civic associations and management districts that include the following:

–          Spring Branch Management District
–          East Aldine Management District
–          Memorial City Management District
–          Woodland Heights Neighborhood Civic Association
–          Washington Heights Civic Association
–          Orchard Communities

One of the great benefits Kudela & Weinheimer has had through the design and construction of all these esplanades are the relationships we have built with several of the City of Houston partners. Mrs. Marilu De La Fuente- Adoption Coordinator, Mr. Abel Gonzales- Deputy Director, Greenspace Division and Teofilo ‘T’ Rebagay-City Traffic Engineer, have all been essential in making all of our esplanade enhancement projects a reality. They have guided us through each project and we are confident we know exactly what they need to create a successful project.

Kudela and Weinheimer is very proud to have had the opportunity of work with all the civic associations, management districts and developers that have had the desire and interest in beautifying an element that not only improves the aesthetics of their area but can really bring out a sense of community and pride to everyone who drives by the esplanades.

Wesley F. Salazar, Project Manager

Wesley Salazar joined Kudela & Weinheimer directly after graduating the Texas A&M University Landscape Architecture program. From the beginning he has worked on a vast array of commercial projects including: management districts and median enhancements, K-12 and Higher Ed, office, retail, and mixed use, multifamily and parks. With a sharp eye for detail and intense talent for landscape architecture he has quickly excelled into a Project Manager position at the firm. He manages a team of 6 and is passionate about customer service and customer satisfaction. Mr. Salazar has personally been an integral link for each of the Adopt-An-Esplanade programs Kudela & Weinheimer has prepared for our clients.