Here at Landscape Art, we regularly work on projects that involve master planned communities and neighborhoods. These communities often call for top-notch communial spaces that include plazas, parks, pools, playgrounds, pavilions and sometimes even splash parks. In one of our recent projects, we worked with Carlton Woods Creekside here in Houston to install a beautiful plaza to serve as a gathering space for residences.
Carlton Woods Creekside is the most exclusive gated section in the massive Woodlands master planned community. The neighborhood features the largest custom homes in the area and includes The Club at Carlton Woods and the Tom Fazio designed Championship Golf Course.
The project included clearing a wooded site and then constructing a large sunken plaza. The plaza is enveloped by both stone and brick pathways as well as stone retaining walls. Soft, natural and low-maintenance plantings surround the plaza giving it a lush welcoming feel. The plaza area is even complete with a spray ground feature.
The focal feature of the plaza is a large stately pavilion with a large fountain that overlooks the plaza from one end and mail kiosk from the other. The plaza area is flanked by a bathroom building, making this space complete for community events, ceremonies or just a lovely spot to rest during a daily walk. We even installed a large playground on the opposite end of the plaza. To complete the versatilty of the space, we installed two tennis courts with a seating area and a half basketball court.
As you can see in the photos, the entire area is kept private and secluded by the natural forest that surrounds the park. Nestled in the trees, the area is a perfect place for residents to relax or bring guests.
The project was constructed for The Woodlands Corporation with Bob Bruce as the owner's representative and Mark Grindell as the owner's site representative. Clark Condon Associates was the Landscape Architect and the design team leader, with Elizabeth Gilbert and Sheila Condon leading the charge. Landscape Art was the General Contractor with Andrew Walton as the project manager. D.L. Meacham and Monarch Pools were subcontractors, each contributing significantly to the project.
We've been very busy here at Landscape Art this year and we're couldn't be happier. Here at our new LA blog, we'll be showcasing our current completed or ongoing projects to give our readers a better idea of the type and scale of projects we handle here in Houston and surrounding areas.
Our first project hightlight is the Bridgepoint Bible Church. This thriving church on the west side of Houston wanted to create an oudoor plaza with a fountain and water feature that also served as a baptismal pool. They also wanted to improve the existing play area and create a new larger playground. The style of the church is very contemporary and so the landscape installation reflects this modern style.
The project included installing a significant storm water drainage system to mitigate problems with standing water behind the church. An expansive stone plaza was constructed between two existing buildings including a decorative fountain that can double as an outdoor baptismal. This area now serves as a welcoming site for members to gather and host events.
As you can see, the landscaping and materials complement both the style and colors fo the building. Steel blues, gray and charcoal colors are reflected in the stone work and the plantings. The masses of beautiful blue Agapanthus and white crapemyrtles sofen the contemporary design. The cool color scheme of both the building materials and plantings creates a soothing peacful feel for the space. Despite lush look of the plantings, they are all low-maintenance and well-adapted to the Houston climate.
The existing play area was enhanced and a large, three-level playground installed. The congregation's children now have a safe and incredibly fun playground in which to burn off some steam while their parents catch up with other members. The landscaping concept was to provide a natural feel, so many trees and plants were included around and even within the playground areas. Decomposed Granite pathways connect the various features and a state-of-the-art irrigation control system was installed to update the entire facility. The layout and flow of the entire design perfectly envolopes the church building itself and creates a welcoming environment.
The project was constructed for Bridgepoint Bible Church with Tony Gregory, Karen Gregory and Mark Stewart as the owner's representatives. Clark Condon Associates was the Landscape Architect and Beth Clark was the CCA representative. Landscape Art was the General Contractor with Jason Ward as the project manager. Hoggatt, L.P. and Monarch Pools were subcontractors, each contributing significantly to the project.
Please take a moment to view some of our other projects for institutions and organizations HERE. If yo'd like to receive our monthly E-newsletter with updates on our project work, you can sign up HERE.
For many decades, America’s fruits and vegetables have been harvested by foreign-born, mostly Hispanic workers. Long days of physically demanding work have kept many native-born workers away. Even in the early 1980’s when the economy sank and unemployment skyrocketed to double digits, agricultural work didn’t lure Americans to the fields.
Over the last twenty-five years, a similar phenomenon has spread to other industries. Restaurant kitchens, hotel and hospitality workers, the construction industry and landscape services are now dominated by a foreign-born workforce.
I am the general manager of Landscape Art, a Houston area, landscape construction company. As is the case with most of our industry, our field staff of around 50 is mostly Hispanic and mostly foreign-born.
For the past 15 years, we have utilized the H2B program, which allows us to secure work visas for Mexican and El Salvadorian workers. Under the requirements of the program, we advertise each year in the “Help Wanted” section of the Houston Chronicle and the Texas Workforce Commission. The wage rate is set by the Department of Labor and is currently $10.93.
So…for each of the last 15 years, we have sought American workers first. Each year we receive responses. Each year we conduct interviews. Each year we offer employment to all that show up. After 15 years of trying, we have two American-born workers as a result of the ads. I am very proud of Alex and Roy. They are good workers and solid guys, but we can’t run our company with two field workers.
Two years ago, I visited several Congressional offices in Washington, D.C. with colleagues from the landscape industry along with some agricultural folks. While there, I met a farmer from San Antonio.
He needs around 100 people to work his farm for a couple of months. The labor will be difficult and will involve long hours in the field. Then, he doesn’t need them until the next crop comes in, so they’ll have to move on to another farm, probably out of state. Even if the money is good, imagine the person that would accept this lifestyle. Now imagine 100 of them. Now imagine that every farm in America that grows hand-harvested crops needs 100.
In 1986 Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act. The legislation included a small and, ultimately, deficient guest worker program. Without an adequate legal mechanism, immigration went underground.
Over the last twenty-five years, the United States has adopted an “unofficial”, but massive immigration system. It starts with the overwhelming need of industries that cannot thrive or even survive, without immigrant labor. It includes the undeniable force of immigrant people who wish to better their lives by doing hard work that others won’t. This “overwhelming need” and “undeniable force” have come together to create the present state in America of 11 million undocumented workers.
Our current system is deeply flawed, because it is an “ad hoc” approach rather than a statutory method. The result is that we have no control. We don’t know who is coming in. We don’t know their background. We know nothing about them.
We can do better.
We can institute a guest worker program that protects the interests of American workers by always offering the jobs to Americans first. We can accommodate the needs of farmers, restaurants and other companies, by developing a dynamic guest worker program that is usable and reliable. We can extend to the immigrants both the rights and responsibilities of being an American worker. We can offer American citizens the assurance that we know the people coming to our country and that they are contributing both their labor and their taxes.
The details of the program will come from tedious, but important work in Washington. Many must ponder the particulars of the legislation...but it must be done. We can’t ride without rules. We can’t continue with happenstance as our policy. We can’t allow randomness to determine our workforce.
The details will come from Washington, but the push comes from us. The will to act comes from us. The insistence on intelligent legislation comes from us. We can do better. We will do better.