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. 

Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio: Military’s Medical Headquarters

Fort Sam Houston is known as the “Home of Army Medicine” and as of 2011 is the largest and most important military medical training facility in the world. Kudela & Weinheimer’s San Antonio office has had the opportunity provide landscape architecture for two projects at Fort Sam, IMCOM and METC.

IMCOM is the acronym for Installation Management Command. According to Wikipedia, this arm of the United States Army “supports the war fighting mission by providing standardized, effective & efficient services, facilities and infrastructure to Soldiers, Civilians and Families for an Army and Nation engaged in persistent conflict.” The group is made up of: The former Installation Management Agency (IMA); the former Community and Family Support Center, currently known as Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; and the former Army Environmental Center. The purpose for the newly organized IMCOM was simply to “focus on installation management and enhance the well-being of Soldiers, Families and Civilians,” according to Wikipedia.

The METC is short for Medical Educational & Training Campus, it offers over 60 academic programs in various medical specialties to US enlisted military students. The METC is an integrated campus under a single university-style administration, it has affiliations with several academic bachelors and masters degree programs with universities such as Baylor University, University of Texas Health Science Centers at Houston and San Antonio, and University of Nebraska. The Army Medical Department and School trains more than 25,000 students annually. All military medical training has been consolidated at Fort Sam Houston as a result of the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission). Fort Sam Houston is The Military’s Medical Headquarters, and the METC covers more than 2,000,000 square feet of the Fort Sam Houston campus.

Kudela & Weinheimer has a broad variety of projects our portfolio and we are honored to have had the opportunity to give our military personnel an enjoyable outdoor built environment. Through HJD Capital Electric, Inc and Allen Nutt Architect, K&W handled 5 phases of street and parking lot additions for the IMCOM campus. We designed planting and landscape according to the Army Corp of Engineers Guideline Standards and maintained a budget of $100,000 for the entire project with a $30,000 landscape budget.

The METC Integration Plan proposed troop walks, lighting, and landscaping to unify all the separate components of the METC campus and integrate it into a cohesive campus. We completed a planting design that helped serve that purpose. We selected the plant palette according to the constraints of the project. Most notably, plants had to provide interest all year, but also be drought tolerant and able to survive the San Antonio climate without continuous irrigation (environmentally friendly and sustainable). For the design, we placed trees and planting beds at major points of interest along the walks, using the palette to create interesting repetitions that integrated the campus. The scope included proposing planting along 3,800 Linear Feet of walkway, with a $50,000 landscaping budget.

The METC is estimated to bring $15 billion  per year to San Antonio and is reported to have already brought $621 million to the San Antonio economy.

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Kudela & Weinhiemer San Antonio office key people:

3D Modeling for Real Life Results

Amanda Jaloway

It’s often difficult to envision what a 2D landscape plan will actually look like in the built environment3D modeling is a handy tool in the world of design to help our clients envision the true sense of place and we’ve found a great program to aid us in this endeavor. SketchUp is a 3D modeling program that, unlike many of its competitors, is simple to use and easily self-taught. One of the best features is that a free version is available for download through their website [] making it widely available – always a plus when trying to coordinate with clients, contractors, etc.

2D Rendering: Onstructure Amenities Deck for Multifamily High-rise

We have been able to utilize this product in many facets of our work.  Frequently the only tool we have to present a design is a rendered plan; though very useful, sometimes plans can be difficult to read, or more so, difficult to interpret how it will look in real life. This is where SketchUp comes into play. We can build a 3D model of our design to show the clients exactly how a design will look in reality.

Once the base model has been created we can then work out design details, such as material selections, furniture design and placement, planting design and selections, in the model. For example, if a client is torn between two materials for a certain area, we can easily import these materials into the model for a side by side comparison, greatly simplifying the selection process.

We have also been able to use SketchUp to work out the mechanics of certain design elements. In one such instance, we were designing a fountain and having a difficult time detailing exactly how all the elements would work together. We decided to model it in SketchUp and were then able to work out the fine details in a 3D environment, much more cohesive with real life.

All-in-all, we have found SketchUp to be a highly beneficial tool in the visualization and evolution of our designs in the built environment.

3D Rendering: Onstructure Amenities Deck for Multifamily High-rise

Written by Amanda Jaloway

Amanda designs and prepares most of our 3D renderings on Kudela & Weinheimers’ projects. Having 3D renderings is a valuable tool for helping our clients experience their space before it’s built.

Development Magazine Shows Off KW Design


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We are proud to say, several projects that Kudela & Weinheimer designed the landscaping for were featured in the July/August 2011 Urban Land Magazine! Most importantly, the feature picture of the article shows the pool area of The Broadway Condominiums in … Continue reading

BILLIONS! It’s all going to the dogs

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!

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