Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” Celebrates Life and Sanctity at Blanton Museum of Art

© Overland Partners Architects

The Late, Great American Artist Would Have Turned 98 on May 31st, 2021 

The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas, and sometimes they align to allow a once-in-a-lifetime project to be realized. Such is the case with Ellsworth Kelly’s Austinthe last great masterpiece by celebrated American artist Ellsworth Kelly at the University of Texas’ Blanton Museum of ArtThproject came to fruition through a series of discussions among two friends, both UT Austin graduates and both well into their respective careers – architect Rick Archer, Overland Partners’ principal on the project, and art historian, gallerist and agent for premier contemporary artists, Hiram Butler. 

During a trip to New York in the spring of 2012Butler visited with Kelly and Jack Shear, Kelly’s partner for more than 30 years and president of the Ellsworth Kelly FoundationThey discussed a design for a chapel Kelly had imagined over 20 years before. Butler asked Kelly if he would be willing to donate the design to an institution who would be build it? Kelly agreed with caveats – the structure would be publicly accessible and for a non-religious organization.  Butler reached out to Archer, with the proposition that the chapel be built in Texas. The Butler-Overland team had experience collaborating with artists on architectural projects. They had recently worked with artist James Turrell to bring The Color Insidea permanent Skyspace installation, to the top floor of UT Austin’s William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center, also designed by Overland Partners.  When Butler and Archer approached then UT President Bill Powers about bringing the chapel to campushe immediately recognized the genius of the workArcher recalled Powers saying, “It is quite possible that 50 years from now no one will remember what I accomplished at this university except bring this master work of contemporary art to Austin.”  

© Overland Partners Architects

So began the feverish quest in 2013 to assemble the team to procure funds and build the space, always aware of Kelly’s age, which at the time the project began was 89Archer said it was a full-on race, with AndreBober, Director of UT’s Landmarks Public Art Program, initiating the project; Simone Wicha, Director of the Blanton Museum of Art and Veronica Roberts, Blanton Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, adeptly coordinating the project and procuring the funds to insure the project was realized and Tom Butler with Linbeck Construction providing preconstruction services.  Archer enlisted fellow Overland architect and Skyspace collaborator, James Lancaster as a critical leader of the project.  Together, they collaborated with a team of buildersengineers and artisans that could meet the exacting standards presented by both the artist and project. On several occasions, Archer, Butler, and Linbeck’s Tom Butler (no relation to Hiram) travelled to Kelly’s Studio in Spencertown New York with Blanton leadership. “We executed drawings and worked all hours of the night to obtain his signature on each and every aesthetic decision,” Archer continued. “We all knew that if the documents did not have his signature, the work would not be an authentic Kelly,” he said. 

Once the approvals and funding were in place, a deep collaboration was fostered between Overland Partners, design-builder Linbeck Group, LLC, global engineers ARUP, custom fabrication specialists Carlson Baker Arts, world-renowned stained glass artists Franz Mayer of Munich, and the Blanton Museum staff. Together, team members forged partnerships and pushed boundaries to bring Kelly’s artistic vision to life, while building a museumquality structure.  

© Overland Partners Architects

Archer anticipated the powerful impact the work would have on the university, the city, and those who visited it, but not how the project, especially time with Kelly, would shape his personal view of the world. “I liken this project to working with Lady Bird Johnson (LBJ Wildflower Center1995 ) and artist James Turrell (The Color InsideUT’s William Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center2013) – as you collaborate with them, you get a glimpse of how they think and what they value, and it opens up a whole different level of understanding of the world around you,” said Archer.  

Every aesthetic element of Austin was reviewed by Kelly, who had never been involved in designing or constructing a building before, let alone one for public use that had to meet code requirements and the university’s design standards. Overland’s team collaborated with Kelly on every detail of the design, including the height and exterior material of the structure, entry doors, building proportions, building systems, and smaller points, such as fire alarms and exit signs.  Originally, the entry doors were rendered in hefty steel, but as the design took form during conversations in his home and studioKelly said, “I’d like the doors to be made of something that feels and looks more like this,” resting his hands on the ancient oak table where they were diningA Texas Live Oak that had been removed from the campus and stored off-site was the perfect solutionPieces of lumber from the tree were handselected and repurposed into the main entry doorsa full circle nod to Kelly’s respect of the natural world. 

“Our team was there to advocate the artist’s vision without interjecting our aesthetic views of the design,” Archer said.

Indeed, complex design challenges required creative solutions. Bringing together the best minds in design, engineering and construction to work alongside Kelly, countless decisions had to be reviewed and deliberated.  The exterior material of the chapel is an example. Kelly originally envisioned the exterior to be smooth plaster, but Overland expressed concern that it would not do well in Texas’ extreme sun and heat, and suggested impervious stone instead. After reviewing diagrams of how the chapel would look made of stone, Kelly expressed discomfort with the grid pattern that was presented. Archer then suggested a more random pattern with size and placement determined by a computer algorithm. “Kelly liked the idea of artistic decisions being made by chance and had a history of throwing dice to determine color and pattern on earlier works.  He loved the computer proposition,” Archer said.  

© Overland Partners Architects

The 14 black and white reliefs representing Stations of the Crossdrawn 25 years earlier, were originally conceived to be fabricated of painted steel. Kelly had a very specific ideas of the black and white tones he wanted to achieve, specifically the very pure white. Archer suggested stone for the panels, and Kelly agreed, assuming the exact hues could be located. Through Overland’s international network of relationships, they were able to source black marble from Belgium that Kelly approved and connect with a quarry in Carrara, Italy that had been closed for more than 200 years to procure the same white marble used for Michelangelo’s PietàArcher was inspired by the abstract connection and meaning the stone held having been used by one of the great Masters to represent Jesus of Nazareth, while Kelly was unconcerned about its origins and more interested in its aesthetic qualities. “He did not ascribe meaning to his work, per se.  He did not want people to see him, but to see the art,” said Archer.  

What resulted are simple yebold panels, that when viewedreflect the luminous windows but seem to absorb the image of the viewer, evoking a deeporganic connection between them and the work“Pure form and color with spatial unity ultimately defined Kelly’s work,” said Archer. 

Overland leaned into both craft and technology to formulate inventive ways to work with Kelly during the preconstruction phase, given his residence in rural New York. This included hundreds of computergenerated renderings, 3D models, and mock-ups that were exacting in scale, proportion, joinery, and other details in order to convey the artist’s precise visualization of the building.   

Ellsworth Kelly, Austin, 2015 (Interior, facing west), artist-designed building with installation of colored glass windows, black and white marble panels, and redwood totem, 60 x 73 x 26 ft. 4 in., © Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, photo courtesy Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

While Kelly spent much of his life working on spectrums of color, this was the first project for him to use colored glassOverland worked with the team from Franz Mayer who provided copious samples of different colored glass to Kelly’s studio.  The studio reconfigured a large overhead door where samples were installed for Kelly to test and study colors. In the final installation, Kelly wanted each window to be flush on interior and exterior walls. Each stained-glass window ultimately was made of three different colors of glass laminated together to achieve the perfect shade Kelly sought. “Franz Mayer perfected the colorand Linbeck assembled and installed each window with no edge detail, executing with perfection this essential component of the design,” said Archer. 

“For the site selection, we presented maps, aerials, and orientation scenarios around the Blanton campusKelly reviewed all of the options and drew a star with a smiley face on the spot where Austin now sits,” said Archer.  

Titled Austinthe 2,715 square foot chapel honors the artist’s tradition of naming specific works for the locations to which they are destined. After five years of meticulous design and construction, it opened February 18, 2018, Three years after Kelly’s death.  Austihas quickly become an icon. Its rainbow-inspired stained-glass windows create streams of color that change throughout the day, while 14 large-scale black and white marble panels, and signature soaring redwood totem, channel joy and reflection, an enduring legacy of Kelly and a gift of wonder to the world.  

Austin has become a center of life on campus, where visitors enjoy a respite, students fall in love, contemplate the world, and where residents and tourists come to enjoy a reflective, sacred experience,” said Archer. “It is exactly how Ellsworth envisioned it,” he said.  

Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture = OKPOP!

Like the lights of Broadway, the new Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) shines brightly on Tulsa’s Arts District as a beacon of entertainment on Main Street. Featuring Oklahoma’s influential musicians, actors and other artist in a wide range of industries, visitors to the new museum will journey through Oklahoma’s creative history, immersed in popular culture from yesteryear through today’s arts, music and culture scene.

The new 55,000 square foot, 3-story building, designed by Overland Partners Architecture + Urban Design in partnership with Tulsa’s Lilly Architects, radiates the toe-tapping energy of early old-time string bands to Western swing, from yodel infused blues to smooth, pop-influenced vocals and well-known generational performers.

OKPOP’s expressive personality shines brightly outward, captivating passersby and attracting visitors with strong angles and its shiny glass and ornamental steel panels. Its street-facing façade, almost 75 feet at its tallest point, dazzles with billboard-like signage and gold tone metal cladding on a cantilevered outcrop that is reflective and glamorous. Visible from historic Route 66 and across from the iconic Cain’s Ballroom, it confidently announces its presence connecting Oklahoma’s pop culture icons from the past and present into the future.

Through film, video, audio recordings, artifacts and cherished keepsakes, guests are immersed in the evolution of music through engaging, rotating exhibits on three floors that also includes a live performance space, an event venue, and a large terrace overlooking downtown.

“It’s like OKPOP has two egos—its outgoing, attention-seeking front face of the building, and its alter ego, the more subdued, contemplative back portion,” said Albert Condarco, Overland Architect, and member of the design team on the project.

Bob Wills’ original tour bus, beautifully restored and fully operational, greet guests and transports them to an earlier time when Wills, who with his band the Texas Playboys, combined jazz and country music to create Western Swing, a music genre that exploded in the 1940’s and endured for decades. While the museum is home base for the bus, it can be taken on the road to festivals and as a traveling marketing mouthpiece.

OKPOP boasts Oklahoma’s influence on culture through the arts, entertainment and media, yet it is more than nostalgia- tinged music and memorabilia. Immersing guests in a multi-sensory experience, Oklahoma’s influence on the pop culture scene comes to life through vivid and engaging exhibits, modern sounds and household-name artists who have cross pollinated Western, Pop and Rock genres, film, television, theatre, pop art, comic books, and literature.

Because of its flexible design, the new multi-purpose event center located on the second floor will accommodate multiple private events and gatherings simultaneously, such as weddings or corporate functions. Featuring a special acoustical system, it is designed for live entertainment, concerts and performances. Depending on the event, the space capacity ranges from 160 to 499 guests.

Nestled on the top of OKPOP, framing stunning views of downtown and Cain’s Ballroom, the Roof Terrace is an outdoor space for smaller, less formal gatherings, such as cocktail parties and receptions. A large, modern metal trellis adds drama and intimacy to the space, while native climbing plants provide shade during hot Oklahoma summers.

According to the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS), the forward-thinking organization that created the idea to tell the story of “…the creative spirit of Oklahoma’s people and the influence of Oklahoma artists on popular culture around the world,” OKPOP is being built with $25 million in bond funds from the state to feature Oklahoma talents.

Condarco said OHS wanted to create a new building in Tulsa about the history of arts, music, theater and film, while connecting content to current culture. “OKPOP brings visitors up-close and personal to artists, sharing stories and personalities of the past while celebrating the future and connecting it to the here and now.”

“Since popular culture is about different types of cultural products that gain mass popularity and appeal, the museum will continue to explore new artists, materials and genres. Exhibits will change over time to stay relevant,” he said.

OKPOP is being built by General Contractor Nabholz Construction on land donated by Tulsan David Sharp and Interak Corp. in the Tulsa Arts District. The project broke ground October 23, 2019, however, construction and fundraising were slowed by COVID. Completion of the project is anticipated for early 2022.

“OKPOP will be a lively place to be entertained and educated at the same time,” said Condarco.



Overland Partners – Design Architect

Lilly Architects – Architect of Record

Nabholz Construction – Contractor

Wallace Engineering – Civil & Structural

Arup – MEP, Acoustic Design, A/V, Fire Alarm & Fire Sprinkler Design

Haley Sharpe Design – Exhibit Designer

Schuler Shook – Lighting Designer

Howell & Vancuren – Landscape Architect

FSC, Inc. – Life Safety

Overland Presents “The Transient Landscape” Virtual Luncheon with Featured Artist – Ansen Seale

The Art Program @ Overland will be hosting a free virtual artist luncheon on Wednesday, April 21 at 12 p.m. with San Antonio artist, Ansen Seale featuring his photographic series entitled “The Transient Landscape” currently on exhibition at Overland Partners.

Artist Bio: Over the past 20 years, Ansen Seale has developed a technique called slit scan photography. More than just a visual curiosity, it has become a useful tool for the exploration of themes meaningful to him, like ideas about time and our place in its continuum.

It is important to understand that these images are not artificially manipulated. This is truly the way the slit scan camera sees the world.

Rather than suspending a single moment, this technique examines the passage of time. In his own version of a panoramic camera, a single sliver of space is imaged over an extended period of time, yielding the surprising result that unmoving objects are blurred and moving bodies are rendered clearly. This is no Photoshop trick. By re-imagining what a camera is and how it should work, abstraction becomes the norm, not the exception.

Instead of mirroring the world as we know it, this camera can records a hidden reality. Like a microscope or telescope, this machine expands our ability to perceive more about the nature of reality.

Sometimes, by the elimination of information, we gain a more complete understanding of the visual reality around us.

The Transient Landscape is a series of photographs exploring landscapes and cityscapes. The slit scan technique produces many strange time-based effects, including the absence of perspective and the extreme compression or expansion of objects based on their spatial relationship to the camera and how they (or the camera) are moving.

Moving by train, boat, car, airplane, cable car or foot, various forms of locomotion transport the artist and his camera to scan the landscapes. The result is a view of reality which is pure photography–unmanipulated, but with an inescapable visual twist based on a changed set of rules.

instagram: @ansenseale

The Future of Downtown Lubbock

With a number of catalytic projects already transforming downtown Lubbock’s landscape, Overland Partners Architect and Urban Designer Samantha Schwarze, AIA, shares how her team’s work with constituents resulted in a unified vision for the future of downtown Lubbock and a Master Plan Update that prioritizes next steps for creating a vibrant, sustainable place to live, work and play in the heart of the Hub City. In our latest video, Schwarze shares her experience and what is next on the horizon.

Read more about the revitalization of downtown Lubbock and Overland’s work:

Lubbock Avalanche – Journal
Downtown revitalization needs to occur now

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Opens New $10.5 Million Welcome Center and Auto Garden

PITTSBURGH (March 23, 2021) – April 1 marks the opening of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden’s new Welcome Center, a 7,500 square foot building that greets visitors entering the garden and transports them to a place of exploration, wonder and learning. This date also marks the six-year anniversary of the Garden, which has hosted nearly 125,000 visitors since opening in 2015.  

The Welcome Center, designed by San Antonio-based architectural and urban design firm Overland Partners in collaboration with local associate FortyEighty Architecture will not only be the point of entry to the Garden, but a central learning space with moveable walls designed to accommodate a variety of programming for all ages. Pittsburgh Botanic Garden partners with regional schools to provide STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Agriculture, Math) field trips, exposing students to the sciences and arts in a beautiful and safe environment that fosters experiential learning through connection with the natural world. Additional programs include land reclamation workshops, horticulture lectures, planting demonstrations and private events.  

Making a paper flower with a Pencil as a stem. Copyright Scott Goldsmith.

“This new center will elevate the visitor experience by creating deeper engagement opportunities year-round,” said Keith S. Kaiser, Executive Director.

Inviting and intuitive, the new center will be the starting point for immersion into the 460 acres of gardens and woodlands with reception, ticketing, café, gift shop and offices as well as multi-function and event spaces. 

The topography of the site creates opportunities to experience different elevations of the Welcome Center in unique ways. Views from inside immediately draw visitors into the canopy of deciduous and evergreen trees through floor to ceiling windows, while the adjacent café’s terrace suspends you into the greeneryOutdoor spaces surrounding the Welcome Center were designed by Pittsburgh landscape architecture firm Pashek + MTR.  The Entry Garden draws visitors through a grove of American Hornbeam trees, and will be lushly underplanted with grasses, ferns, and woodland perennials.  The large Peirce Education Rooms connect to the Courtyard Garden, an outdoor plaza set into the hillside and featuring a stone water wall inspired by the  seeps often encountered on local rock outcrops. Designed for flexibility, the Peirce Courtyard  Garden offers an ideal space for indoor/outdoor classes, events, or quiet reflection. A sliding gate can be opened in the stone and cedar screen wall between the Entry Garden and the Courtyard Garden, creating a larger connected outdoor space for events and gatherings. 

Copyright Scott Goldsmith.

“The new Welcome Center is the gateway to the Garden. It invites visitors to leave behind their busy lives by quietly inviting them into the natural setting while orienting and informing with views, informationart and access to the gardens and woodlands,” said Overland Partners’ Senior Architect Charles Schneider, AIA, LFA.  

“We wanted the lush site and second growth forest to take center stage by using the existing topography and incorporating biophilic design, reinforcing the relationship between nature and the built environment while bringing an overall sense of well-being to visitors, said Rebecca Sibley, AIA, LEED AP, Overland Partners Architect. 

Planted among its surroundings, the Welcome Center was oriented to take advantage of natural light, especially important in a region that experiences heavy rain and snowfall. “It is wonderful to see the dappling effect created by the shadows of the tree canopy as the light changes throughout the day,” said Sibley. 

Sibley noted that the building’s exterior palette includes natural materials such as local sandstone veneer and cedar cladding, inspired by the physical landscape and its agrarian past. “The exterior cedar will patina into a beautiful silvery gray and disappear into the forest over time,” she said. 

Copyright Scott Goldsmith.

To facilitate safe access to the Welcome Center, a new Auto Garden designed by Pittsburgh-based civil engineering firm Civil & Environmental Consultants and landscape architecture firm Pashek + MTR, expands parking while also housing a 177,000-gallon storm-water detention system underneath. The system collects rainwater runoff from nearly seven acres of property, including the Auto Garden (parking lot, entry drive, planting areas, and walkway), the Welcome Center and surrounding gardens. The system’s main purpose is to prevent downstream erosion and flooding by gathering the water and slowly releasing it back into the natural environment.  Rock removed during excavation of the stormwater detention system was re-purposed as landscape outcrops in the surrounding gardens. 

The new All Seasons Garden arrayed on the hillside next to the entrance drive guides visitors toward the Welcome Center with a display of Rhododendrons, Azaleas, and Dwarf Conifers, interwoven with colorful grasses and perennials. Native trees such as Black Gum and Kentucky Coffeetree provide shade along the Auto Garden walkway leading visitors from parking to the Welcome Center.    

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden was one of the first recipients of funding from U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), allowing reclamation of previously unusable lands due to deep and surface coal mining and subsequent acid mine drainage that polluted local water tributaries. Through conservation and restoration efforts that began in 2005, remaining mining industry hazards were removed, 10,000 saplings were planted to reforest the Garden’s 28-acre reclaimed coal mine site, and three operational passive filter systems were built to mitigate acid mine drainage, which now cleans 25 million gallons of water before entering the region’s watershed.

The center will be open to the public in Spring of 2021. Copyright Scott Goldsmith.

With education a cornerstone of its mission, the Garden is able to use its restoration of former coal mining land as a living laboratory for adults and children to engage in environmental stewardship and develop a conservation mindset.

“Creating a sustainable future from its industrial past, the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is a shining example of how to restore land from a hazardous landscape to a thriving woodland area,” said Overland Partners Robert Shemwell, FAIA, Principal on the project. “The addition of the Welcome Center only expands the hands-on learning opportunities and gatherings while providing a stimulating, year-round functional space,” Shemwell said.   

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is dedicated to creating a holistic, accessible environment and furthering their mission of inspiring people to value plants, garden design and the natural world by cultivating plant collections of the Allegheny Plateau and temperate regions, creating display gardens, conducting educational programs and conserving the environment.  

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is located at 799 Pinkerton Run Road, Oakdale, PA. More details can be found at 

Biophilic Gardens Designed for Healing & Well-Being Open at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Verdant green lawns, blossoms in beautiful hues and fragrances, wildflowers and prairie grass, and abundant native trees greet patients, healthcare providers and guests at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. As part of the hospital’s multi-year renovation and modernization plan to transform the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio into a world-class pediatric hospital caring for children that suffer from the most life-threatening ailments, the newly opened gardens and outdoor spaces are designed to promote healing and enhance emotional and physical well-being.

El Jardin de los Niños (Garden of the Children), was made possible by a generous $20 million gift from the Goldsbury Foundation. The gift included $4 million dedicated to creating a sequence of four different themed gardens on the hospital campus, which spans nearly one city block in downtown San Antonio.

The Play Garden is designed especially for young children who are patients, or may have siblings in the hospital, where outdoor therapy, lawn games, or picnicking are perfect. With soft green grass and plantings to attract birds and butterflies, the lawn welcomes lively play and exploration. The small open space is surrounded by deciduous Mexican Sycamore trees, providing shade from the harsh Texas sun in the summer, yet allow warming rays to shine through in the winter.

Overland Architect Brady Dietert, who worked closely with Overland Principal Rick Archer, FAIA, on the project, noted the context of the Play Garden space. “The nine-story building with colorful glass panels that decorate the exterior of the building act as a backdrop to the lawn, uplifting and inspiring play and lightheartedness in the green grass,” he said.

Next, a Prayer Garden pays homage to the Catholic roots of The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, the non-profit organization that operates the hospital, and offers a peaceful setting for prayer and meditation. Rick Archer collaborated with Landscape Architect Catherine O’Connor, ASLA, Principal of Co’Design, on the overall layout and architectural arrangements and forms of the gardens.

“One of the major goals of the project was to create and design a master plan that pulled together the existing site and create new forms that would unify the entire property,” said Archer. “Once that was in place, Catherine O’Connor added color, texture and interest through landscape elements that resulted in a harmonious campus,” noted Archer.

A meandering, crushed granite path forms the perimeter of the Prayer Garden and encloses a circular gathering space at the garden’s center. Clear and colored glass panels—2’ wide by 7’ tall– frame the space and provide a translucent framework for observing the garden beyond, while limestone slab benches offer seating for quiet repose. Twelve of the glass panels integrate color in reference to the Twelve Disciples and the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The colors, too, draw inspiration from the Bible: from blue as a color of God’s glory in Judaism; light purple symbolizing advent to the resurrection and the hope of everlasting life; white as the light of God. O’Connor also chose plants and trees that were noted in the Bible. The plant palette features three palm species, Arizona cypress trees with their distinctive blue-green foliage, dwarf olives, and shrubs with soft-colored and scented blooms such as honeysuckle, iris, and sweet myrtle. O’Connor noted that the plantings, which integrate a variety of greens, leaf textures, and heights, will become more full over time, adding a sense of privacy to the sacred space. At night, the panels are lit with LED lights, changing the garden into an ethereal space of reflection.

Adjacent to the Prayer Garden, dedication panels of clear glass are etched with “Garden of the Children,” biblical scriptures, and names of Goldsbury family members, in both English and Spanish, honoring Goldsbury family members, for whom the gardens were built.

Near the new main entrance on San Saba Street is the Culinary Garden where irrigated planters overflow with herbs and fresh vegetables. Visitors can view the gardens through floor-to-ceiling windows in the adjacent hospital café as well as a dedicated space where dieticians share healthy recipes and cooking demonstrations. Tucked away in the back of the garden is a covered pavilion used for special events and gatherings.

From the Café, guests can step out onto an outdoor deck, shaded by Cedar Elms, where tables and seating encourage them to sit, read, enjoy coffee or lunch, and soak up the therapeutic elements of the landscape.

The only garden not accessible to the public is the Memorial Garden. During a full-scale renovation of the hospital in 2014, burial grounds of early settlers and indigenous people were discovered during construction. After meetings with descendant groups, they communicated they did not want the remains and grounds disturbed for reasons related to their spiritual beliefs. To honor their requests, the hospital created this special garden, which is a long, rectangular stretch of land blanketed with prairie grass, wildflowers, and Sycamore trees.

No digging was allowed out of care and respect for the remains. Soil was added, the landscape raised, and trees were planted in large mounds of dirt. A sizeable rock cairn stands tall to signify holy ground. An elevated concrete terrace overlooking the garden offers visitors intimate views and a place to connect with the natural space, and a historical plaque tells the story of the people who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago.

While visitors cannot access the Memorial Garden, patients have a view of the garden. The newly designed green space also opens up the exterior of the building to nearby Milam Park, making the hospital feel more inviting and integrated with the city.

“Since the beginning of the project, Overland Partners has been in lock step with our mission and ministry of healing all children regardless of their family’s situation. This means treating the whole child – physically, emotionally, and spiritually while also supporting family members and caregivers through an incredibly stressful time. We turned to Overland for their experience with biophilic design and understanding the role nature plays in health and well-being.  Especially during the past year, our appreciation for safe, accessible outdoor space has never been greater. The gardens at The Children’s Hospital are such an important asset to the healing process for our patients, families and staff.”
Cris Daskevich, CEO, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.

Stanly Ranch – A New Model for Resiliency & Wellness for the Destination Traveler



A new model for resiliency and wellness for the destination traveler.

Opening mid-year 2021, Stanly Ranch will be the gateway to the famed California Wine Country, and will highlight the region’s ethos of sustainability and celebration of nature.

Stanly Ranch Site Plan, Napa Valley, California


Above all else, the resort’s identity will reside on the authentic, Napa Valley lifestyle and vernacular, immersed in the Wine Country landscape and designed for a new generation of hospitality serving holistic wellness and luxury.


Architectural Style

Interwoven with elegant landscape, the character of the resort will feature modern architecture and luxury interiors, inspired by the rustic agrarian, yet romantic context. Thoughtfully incorporated in the design, local materials such as rich woods and soft stones will reference the natural vernacular style and regional resources.

Pavilion and Lawn at the Resort Core


Much like the ritual of a wine tasting, guest experiences are crafted into a sequence of moments that engage all the senses.

A Curated Guest Experience

From the allée of fragrant eucalyptus trees upon arrival…

Allée of Eucalyptus

…to the vineyard-covered rolling hills of the property…

Local vineyards

…to the casual check-in where guests are greeted with a glass of local wine while enjoying breathtaking views of the landscape.

Reception Lounge | image courtesy of CCID


The buildings of the resort are spread throughout the landscape, tucked between vineyards and orchards, nestled into the site, and connected by vibrant gardens.

A Deconstructed Resort

Essential to the character of Stanly Ranch is agricultural open space, which inspired the design of the site as a network of interspersed buildings, interlaced with the landscape. The green spaces provide connection across the site and offer opportunities for organic interaction and gathering.

Cottage Exterior | image courtesy of CCID


Each event destination at Stanly Ranch provides venue experiences that elegantly blend the indoor spaces and activity with the outdoor landscape.

Events in the Wine Country

Stanly Ranch will provide a collection of event spaces for a wide range of scales and functions, from small corporate retreats, to grand weddings, and everything in between.

Bridal Suite | image courtesy of CCID


Meeting Room | image courtesy of CCID


Positioned just off the resort core, Cistern Hill will be home to a future winery with one-of-a-kind tasting experiences, continuing the estate’s centuries-old tradition of wine making.

A Future Winery

With wine at the heart of Napa Valley, the new winery on Cistern Hill, in walking distance of the cottages, will provide tasting and touring opportunities for Stanly Ranch guests, as well as local residents and visitors.

Cistern Hill


From sports therapy to weekend escapes, to a healing retreat, the destination spa complex will offer an extensive variety of rejuvenating treatments in a casual, sophisticated environment.

A Model of Health & Wellness

A Balanced Life

Supporting an active lifestyle is central to the ethos of Stanly Ranch. The resort will feature valley cycling tours, walking trails, group exercise, and yoga, as well as spaces that encourage active engagement with the outdoors.


Enhancing a noteworthy glass of local wine, stunning and complimentary cuisines round out the experience of wellness and luxury at Stanly Ranch.

A Culinary Destination

A signature restaurant at the core of the resort will showcase diverse menus from the essential to the experimental, featuring produce grown and harvested on-site, as well as other healthy, locally-sourced ingredients. Additionally, local teas, coffees, and more will be crafted at the resort’s own coffee shop.


Measuring success factors of achieving a holistic wellness retreat, the Stanly Ranch design team turned to an institution renowned in the industry for their evaluation of comprehensive health in architectural experience.

Wellness for All

To provide the essentials of wellness and a healthy lifestyle for both guests and staff, Stanly Ranch has been designed with an aim to receive Gold Rating by the industry-leading International Well Building Institute.


At Stanly Ranch, the Earths natural resources are treated with the same respect and carea s grapes are by a vitner.

Resiliency, Through and Through

Through study and calculation of Napa Valley’s climate and resources, Stanly Ranch is designed for environmental responsiveness and responsibility, exemplifying resiliency and the coexistence of the built conditions with the natural conditions.


In an area that experiences frequent droughts, the all-important resource of water has been throughtfully considered in the design, paving a way for a more efficient future.

Sharing Water

Investing in the future of the region’s water resources, the resort draws municipally-supplied recycled water across the Napa River to serve not only the irrigation needs of the site itself, but the needs of all adjacent neighbors and vineyards, thereby reducing the burden on the region as a whole.


Stanly Ranch is designed to generate 100 of its electrical needs by on-site solar panels.

Harvesting the Sun

Partnering with experienced technology teams, the resort intends to utilize solar harvesting for the entirety of its electrical demands, supporting the role of Stanly Ranch as a leader in sustainable, resourceful operations.


The mantra of “Living Local and Thinking Global” bears even more relevance now than ever before – a landscape-connectedness ethos which will be immersive in the Stanly Ranch experience.

A Deep Connection to the Land

The entire experience of the resort aims to feature strong connections to the land and the bounty that it provides. Guests will be offered responsibly harvested food, grown on-site and by neighboring farms. They’ll enjoy exceptional local wine, for which the region is world-renown. Even the flowers in the rooms will be grown on-site at the resorts many gardens.

Cottage | image courtesy of CCID


Overland Architecture + Urban Design

AVRO|KO          Integral Group          Nichols Partnership

BrightView          CCI Design          Auberge Resorts Collection


New NOMA Central Texas Chapter Led by Overland Partners Architect Gregory Street, RA, NOMA, NCARB

Like most elementary aged children growing up, Gregory Street craved a small space that felt like his own special hideaway, one where he could retreat to let his imagination run wild. Against the urban backdrop of Chicago’s west side, the first structure he created was in his grandmother’s backyard, a simple loft that allowed him to see beyond the chain link fence that separated his grandmother’s yard from the neighbor’s. “My grandmother encouraged me, my siblings, and cousins to explore the natural world, dig around in the dirt, and would often play good cop when I did too much tinkering with my grandad’s tools,” Street said. The rough inner-city context of Chicago’s west side diminished with Greg’s freedom to dream and create which he said allowed him to maintain his childlike wonder.

Everything changed in Greg’s world the day he left for school and his mother heard gun shots shortly thereafter. Greg and his sisters were fine, but the heart-dropping event clarified his mother’s convictions to move the family. Arlington, Texas was their landing point. Culturally, it was upside down compared to Chicago.

“People talked differently and seemed to have dissimilar interests.  When I walked into Ms. Chatman’s third grade class, none of the kids looked like me. This was my first time experiencing a space and having my skin put me in the minority,” he said.

Even with all the differences, Greg believes the move was the best thing for him and his family – forcing him to make new friends and consider things from different perspectives. He also noted that Arlington had a heightened priority of education and encouraged the arts in high school, which allowed him to pursue one of his passions, singing. He received a high level of classical music training throughout his high school years and considered pursuing a career as a music educator, or in the performing arts on Broadway and opera. “Music fills in the gaps of our language when words are not sufficient,” he said. During his teen years, Greg also had a knack for adding details to his family home. He and his mom were DIY warriors.

When it was time to consider college, Greg had many options, as he was ranked at the top of his class. “I decided to pursue architecture—it is a confluence of all of my interests.” He was still able to sing and perform while working on his architecture degree, combining the two worlds and using the artistry of each to inform the other.  Greg carries this practice into his professional career.

In Austin and at University of Texas School of Architecture, he observed that the ethnic diversity was similar to what he had encountered in his third-grade class so many years ago. He said there were few underrepresented students in his architecture classes, and even more lacking was representation among the faculty. It also seemed that most of his peers were able to be students only, while he worked to help support himself all five years of school.

During Greg’s time at the University of Texas, there was a loosely organized chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS). He found this was a space where the students had many of the same lived experiences and became active in the organization. Under-resourced with little faculty guidance, Greg soon became a student leader and organizer of the NOMAS chapter, where he facilitated cross-disciplinary participation and provided a student-based framework for discussing the Activist Architect.

As part of his architectural studies, Greg completed a professional residency program at Overland Partners in San Antonio and worked on the $100 million Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation at Baylor University, a huge project that allowed him hands-on design experience from concept to construction. “It is still is one of the largest, and perhaps most influential, higher education projects the firm has completed to date,” said Greg.

When deciding where to go after graduation, he returned to Overland Partners, and has been with the San Antonio firm for seven years. As an architect, Greg believes in the power of places and spaces to act as conduits for the improvement of the human condition and is interested in the role that the built environment plays in the creation of identity. This concept came full circle as he and two other architects from Overland attended the 2016 NOMA National Conference in Chicago, Greg’s hometown. It was there that he interacted with under-represented people in architecture in a new context—as professionals who were experts in their fields, advocates, and agents for change in their communities. He felt empowered to do more in his role as a registered architect.

At the same time Greg was gaining experience in his role at Overland, a heightened social climate pervaded the country. Such energy provoked the need to establish an organization like NOMA that would serve two closely located metroplexes: San Antonio and Austin, Texas. Both cities are ranked in the top five in terms of population growth in Texas, yet there was not a professional chapter in either.

“Each of us has a responsibility to effect change in our individual areas of influence,” said Street.

“Architecture just happens to be mine. In the context of our current social and political climate I can think of no greater mission than the one championed by NOMA to carry the profession into the future.”

The timing was right, so Greg sought the guidance of his friend and colleague, Donna Carter, FAIA, in Austin, and others to help shepherd the formation of the organization. Together, they worked to identify and recruit a core group of architects who have a deep interest and commitment to advance the J.E.D.I. principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the new chapter and profession.

Aligned with National NOMA, the Central Texas Chapter’s mission is to sustain the legacy of NOMA’S Founding members by deepening the visibility, support of, and solidarity of under-represented people in the field of architecture and beyond. Street said that members are advocates inside and outside of their workplaces. “This means bringing their design thinking to committee work in the community or developing the language to discuss hard issues like gentrification and offering strategies that could serve a common good,” he said.

Overland Partners is proud of Greg’s achievements and his colleagues as they pave a new path of inclusion in architecture. Meet the new Executive Board of NOMA of Central Texas:

The new chapter is open all professionals. Follow them @noma_centraltx on Instagram. Inquire at or learn more about NOMA’s National Organization at


Miss Education Podcast: Season 4 / Show 10: COVID’s Impact on the Private School Value Proposition

The second in our series of thought-provoking topics about the future of PK-12 education amid the pandemic, Jen Maestas, a San Antonio-based educator and originator of the Miss Education podcast, and Overland Partners take the conversation to independent school leaders from across Texas. Recorded live on October 29th., guest panelists from three premier tuition-based schools discuss important aspects of the independent school value proposition and how their schools are rising to the challenges of COVID-19.

Ruth Burke – Associate Head of School, Episcopal School of Dallas

Eric Lombardi – Head of School, Fort Worth Country Day School

Billy Handmaker – Head of School, Keystone School San Antonio

Listen to the podcast as our panelists explore four themes amid COVID 19:

  1. How are independent schools managing the pressures and guidelines of reopening amid a pandemic?
  2. What financial implications are independent schools facing?
  3. How are independent schools fostering culture, tradition and connection in this ever-changing learning model?
  4. Describe the school of the future.

We all have been affected by COVID. Overland is dedicated to unlocking the embedded potential of communities, starting with our local schools. By listening closely, thinking creatively and learning from our education partners, teachers, and students about what is and is not working amid COVID 19, we can use this historic disruption to test new learning models and the role of schools in our communities for transformational results. Through this shared experience, new paradigms for education can emerge centered around and tailored to each learner – from the content delivered within classrooms to the opportunities for expansive learning experiences gained on and beyond our school grounds.

“The word empathy has come up a lot. Learning and leaning into empathy as you teach and lead schools is really important and something we have taken to a whole new level this year.”
Ruth Burke, Associate Head of School – Episcopal School of Dallas


Ruth Burke
Associate Head of School
Episcopal School of Dallas


Eric Lombardi
Head of School
Fort Worth Country Day School


Billy Handmaker
Head of School
Keystone School San Antonio


Jen Maestas
Miss Education
Podcast Host

Houston Botanic Garden Opens Today with Welcome Pavilion Designed by Overland Partners

Photo: Steve Gonzales, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

The new Houston Botanic Garden (HBG), opens to the public today, September 18, 2020, and features 132 acres of horticultural displays, natural ecosystems and walking trails, transporting visitors from their busy lives to a slower pace of exploration, wonder and learning.

The $26 million, multi-phase project is led by international urban design and landscape architecture firm West 8. Phase I weaves together four distinct natural areas: bayous and wetlands, a hands-on children’s garden/play area, an expansive picnic grove, and voluminous tree farm, with just over two and a half miles of walking trails that traverse among the diverse landscapes.

As a partner of West 8’s architectural collective, in collaboration with the Houston Botanic Garden, Overland Partners designed the Welcome Pavilion to greet visitors and create a strong first impression of the preserve. The facade of the 2,334 square foot building, dubbed the Welcome Wall, is made from coral stone in differing patterns that feature a botanic motif; inside is a ticketing center, gift shop and restrooms. As the first stop upon entry to the Garden, the pavilion works in harmony with the surrounding landscape, inviting guests to learn more about the natural world.

“Setting the tone of a harmonious and upbeat experience while ensuring visitor comfort, especially during Houston’s hot summer months, were key components to our design strategy of the Welcome Pavilion,” said Overland Partners’ Senior Architect Charles Schneider, AIA, LFA.

Schneider said they positioned the pavilion to take advantage of solar orientation for effective shading in Houston’s hot environment, and to capture prevailing breezes to naturally cool the outdoor spaces. In addition, the design allows visitors to view many of the public parts of the Garden, ensuring they feel connected to it even when indoors.

In terms of the material pallet, Schneider said they strove for a more restrained aesthetic that complimented the tones of the Garden without drawing attention to itself.  “Selecting sustainable materials like Kebony siding was a much more responsible choice that lends credence to the values of the Garden,” he said.

The Pavilion offers indoor and outdoor patio seating so guests have the option of overlooking the Pine Grove and Edible Garden. In addition, the Pavilion’s central location, climate-controlled interior, and generous overhead canopy outside will make it a natural gathering spot among visitors.

Photo credit Michael Tims

Top Design Attributes / Materials of HBG’s Welcome Pavilion:

  1. The Welcome Wall – The coral stone walls were originally conceptualized by West 8 as an organizing and wayfinding element within the garden master plan. Overland worked with West 8 to integrate the Welcome Pavilion with the main entry wall, guiding visitors from the parking gardens towards the entrance. The walls feature CNC-carved organic botanic motifs designed by West 8.
  2. The Roof – A central theme in West 8’s master plan was the need for shade. The flat plane of the roof is intended to compliment the design of the garden walls while providing protection from the intense Houston sun.
  3. The Porch – The roof of the entry transitions to a deep, south-facing porch oriented to take advantage of prevailing summer breezes while offering a shady place to grab a bite and look out over the Culinary Gardens.
  4. Primary Materials:
    1. Coral Stone – from a family run quarry in the Dominican Republic, West 8 sourced the block stone first as an adaptive reuse of bi-product from the quarrying process. This waste material from the crust of the quarry was used at the entrance fountain. The building and wall material is from the same quarry. The expressive and varied inclusions of corals was a fitting material for the garden walls.
    2. Kebony Wood Siding – sustainably harvested wood certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC); modified using bio-chemicals to strengthen and preserve the wood making for a long-lasting, beautiful, and green alternative to commonly used, illegally harvested South American hardwoods. The wood’s rich color will naturally patina over time, turning a silvery-gray and continuing to recede into the background as the landscape matures.

“It has been an incredible journey to see this world-class garden come to life and understand the significance it will play for generations of visitors as they learn about the natural world,” said Overland Partners’ CEO Rick Archer, FAIA.  “Pair that with the experience of working alongside visionary landscape architects West 8 who care deeply about the world, while celebrating its beauty, and our team at Overland feels fortunate to have been a part of this project,” Archer continued.

HBC is located at One Botanic Lane, Houston, TX, 77017, approximately 10 miles from downtown Houston, just east of I-45. The closest existing address (for more accurate directions via web-based/mobile mapping) is 8210 Park Place Blvd., Houston, TX 77017. More details can be found at