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.

City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Bond Improvements

Author Audrey Rocha

-Author Audrey Rocha

Due to a bond program that was approved in 2007, the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department has made substantial improvements over the last few years in their park system. The residents, my family included, have reaped many benefits from the enhancements. There are a wide variety of options available. My son loves the variety of playgrounds, I enjoy the different trail types and locations, and there are several dog parks for all the dog lovers.

Knowing how much I use & enjoy getting out and visiting the city parks, I am especially excited that K&W’s San Antonio office was recently selected to perform design services on park improvements for two parks. In 2012, the citizens approved another bond, which included $87.15 million for park improvements on 42 parks. K&W was selected to work on New Territories & Oscar Perez Parks. These parks are located on the northwest side of San Antonio. They are each going to get $350,000 worth of trail improvements, which K&W will have the benefit of designing.

Working at K&W, we do many open spaces and parks, but most are for private developers. We’re excited about the opportunity to serve in the public sector. The design work hasn’t started yet, but I will definitely be bringing my family to enjoy these parks when they’re complete and will be excited to post another blog entry showing the finished improvements.

Kudela & Weinheimer’s San Antonio office was established in 2006. The office has five employees and works on a diverse array of projects. Some notable San Antonio projects include The Broadway Condominiums and 1221 Broadway Lofts at River North. 

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.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It’s Off to Work They Go

At Kudela & Weinheimer we really treasure the level of service we are able to give our clients. Our firm has enough staff power to handle large, complex projects yet we are small enough to provide a high level of personal service. We promise that we always put the “A” -Team on every project, and we do! With a lean, mean, well-oiled office machine -of currently 18 employees – we are expanding our office personnel – soon to be 23- to keep deadlines on time and make sure clients continue to receive extraordinary customer service! With a Texas size welcome, we have 4 new people coming to the Houston office, well actually 3, but if you count Nick Weinheimer (seasoned intern extraordinaire, and Mr. Weinheimer’s son), we’ve got 4.

We are very excited about all of our new employees but Michael Averitt is a special addition and will be joining our conceptual design studio. He will work under the direction of Thad Kudela, doing schematic design, we are looking forward to seeing his innovative ideas. Mr. Averitt comes to us from SWA, where he was based in Shanghai, PRC. With a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas and a Master Degree of Landscape Architecture also from The University of Texas at Austin, he has a well-rounded education and life experience to compliment that. His work experience has included “hands on” nursery experience, as well as working at famed Peter Walker and Partners (PWP Landscape Architecture) in Berkeley, California. Just for reference, PWP designed the National 9/11 Memorial and is currently working on redesigning the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Mting “Miki” Fan has a Bachelor of Arts in Landscape Architecture from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Although Ms. Fan is young, she is a bilingual, bright and talented student with a knock out portfolio that includes being a finalist for design of the Mercer Butterfly Garden. She researched, designed and presented her submission to the board of the Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Harris County. We are looking forward to mentoring her and expanding her skills within our fast paced office.

Danielle Bilot is joining us from Oregon, and will work as an intern for six months. 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. 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 and we’re happy she is coming to spend 6 months with us in Houston, starting in the summer. Hopefully the winter will win her over and she’ll actually want to come back.

Nick Weinheimer has grown up around landscape architecture, from being a wee-tyke hanging out at the office with dad during the after-hours, to learning the ropes of CADD working as an intern during the summers. Mr. Weinheimer is following in his dad’s footsteps by going to school at Texas A&M University in College Station to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture. He’s currently a Junior, becoming a senior in the fall and has been working summers at Kudela & Weinheimer for 6 years.

The San Antonio office is adding one employee.
Kenzie Porter is a graduate of Texas A&M University in College Station with a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture. Ms. Porter has hands on field experience and landscape design in-office experience. She has also had the opportunity to study abroad in Bonn, Germany. The San Antonio office of Kudela & Weinheimer is excited to have her joining the team, and is looking forward to teaching her the way it’s really done, Moczygemba style! Watch out, Kenzie, he’s a slave driver.

Kudela & Weinheimer scours the US, and apparently China, looking for highly qualified talent with extraordinary portfolios. We are insistent about only hiring the best for our team. A big “welcome aboard” to our new guys and gals!

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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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