HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – The latest episode of The Ralph Bivins Project features Bill Odle, president of TBG Partners, a Texas-based firm that specializes in landscape architecture, a key component in place-making today.
RALPH BIVINS: Welcome, this is Ralph Bivins with the Ralph Bivins Project. We’re here today to talk about how to make them better places to live. We’re really happy to have Bill Odle, president of TBG Partners, which has offices in the major markets in Texas. Bill has been head of the Urban Land Institute’s District Council in Houston and chairman of the board of Scenic Houston. Thank you for doing the podcast, Bill.
BILL ODLE: I’m happy to be here; thanks for inviting me.
RALPH BIVINS: I read a piece that was written about your firm, TBG Partners, and I love the self-description it contains about the company: “TBG is reshaping raw space into livable spaces and altering land to become meaningful landscape architecture. We are not developers, yet we can change the value of a community. We don’t design shoes, but we can inspire a morning run. We are not ecologists, but we can help ecosystems flourish.”
One thing I’ve noticed recently is the inclusion of outdoor space as part of high-rise residential buildings and office towers in urban settings. one thing I wanted to ask you. Consider Hines’ new 46-story Brava apartment tower in downtown Houston, for example. Tell us a little about what you do to create these kinds of spaces in urban environments.
BILL ODLE: I think it was during the time of the COVID pandemic especially that people really acknowledged the value of outdoor places – because these were the only spaces that were not shut down.
For many, many years, we have seen high-density projects using open spaces, like Brava, which you mentioned, and others like the Kirby Collection, which has an almost acre-size open space roof deck. These are things that have been done for many years. But the value and the emphasis on these is even higher now. Still, how do you gain access to these open spaces when you are on the 20th, the 50th or 70th floor? How do you do that?
This brings us to something else that we have underestimated – that is, access does not always involve having a doorway that you can step through and put your feet on open space or green space. Sometimes, the importance can be found on the visual side – by looking through a window or glass outward to that space.
To exemplify that, I’ll shift a little and move from the residential/office side of things, which we have been talking about, to health care. We have done a lot of work in health care across the country and locally. We have worked a lot in pediatrics and children’s hospitals. We did the first Platinum Certified Children’s Hospital in Austin; we did Lady of Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge and a facility in New York. It’s interesting. Having a window that allows a patient a view of the outdoors is healing. Just having access. Research says it reduces the amount of medication needed by the patient. For many decades, hospitals were just the opposite. If you had a window, you were lucky to look out at a garage. But that has changed.
Overall, the value of having these green spaces in the places that they are, not at ground level, is extremely valuable. This is a concept that we try to educate our clients. There is something that comes with this visual setting that’s healing.
RALPH BIVINS: I know that you do a lot of work with master planned communities. What is new in that segment of the business?
BILL ODLE: What’s new is what is old. I mean that parks and open spaces are things that people always want, especially in master planned communities which are usually built in areas on the outskirts of cities. The density of homes is one thing, but the developers we work with acknowledge that if you or I drive through a master planned community and if we see a house and fall in love with it, chances are that the same exact house can be found in 20 other neighborhoods. So, are we buying the house or are we buying the neighborhood?
If a developer designs a neighborhood that is a place where someone wants to be, with access to trails and open spaces and mixed uses, among other things, then you are truly creating a community and not just a housing neighborhood. This is the difference between why you live in that area and not somewhere else. It’s important to note that our company has been doing this kind of work for decades. Thinking back to the negatives that occurred in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID – as a society, open space is something that we have come to love and respect.
For our society, the prospect of having access to open space is huge.
Bill Odle biography
TBG was founded in 1987 as a landscape architecture and planning firm. It has offices in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. TBG’s third president since its founding, Bill Odle, joined the firm in 1995 after graduating from Oklahoma State. He has contributed to TBG’s growth and success in numerous ways over the past two-plus decades. After originally joining the firm’s Austin studio, Bill served as TBG Houston’s managing principal for 15 years before becoming strategic planning director, which allowed him to chart and navigate a purposeful plan of action for TBG at the local office and firm-wide levels. He maintains robust involvement in professional and community-focused organizations like Scenic Houston and the Urban Land Institute, for which he serves in a leadership capacity at both the national and regional levels.
A man of humble beginnings, Bill grew up in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, population 450, where he discovered his love for nature. Today, he enjoys spending his free time creating memories with his wife and five kids.
JULY 6, 2023 Realty News Report Copyright 2023
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