Vision for a New Campus Landscape Master Plan

Franke : Franke was honored to be invited to return to Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church to work as the project Landscape Architect for the Master Plan of their campus in Westlake Hills, Texas, in collaboration with Heimsath Architects.  Heimsath and the Church’s Master Plan Committee had established a thoughtful space diagram that both added architectural components and edited out existing structures.  The group came to the conclusion that resulting changes to the site had created a series of exterior spaces that needed to be well planned and conceptually designed as landscape rooms and connectors in order to take full advantage of the parti established in the initial site Master Plan.

F:F was especially pleased to be included on the team during this important juncture of growth and efforts in the life of the Church, since we had previously served as the Design+Build Architect and Landscape Architect for an earlier design work on the campus, the Shepherd of the Hills Grace Memorial Garden.  In part, by reflecting on the importance of Grace Garden to members of the congregation, and considering the new opportunities in the Master Plan to create equally special spaces and places throughout the campus, F:F developed a landscape Master Plan based on the premise of linking an unfolding series of landscapes.   Included in the plan:

  • development of a multi-use “church yard” space for large groups and special gatherings and services
  • multiple intimate prayer and meditation gardens and spaces
  • visible and interconnected surface storm water management and educational bio-infiltration system for reduced water consumption in the landscape
  • special butterfly garden for the Butterfly Preschool and new play yard
  • redesigned vehicular and pedestrian circulation with new primary entrance from Bee Cave Road
  • discrete terraces to provide daily outdoor cafe like spaces
  • youth group campfire ring and barbecue picnic space
  • walking trails that complete a connective loop through the entire natural landscape
  • developed walkways and promenades. 

Critical to the campus’ future community identity and impact as a welcoming place within Westlake is a completely redesigned street frontage, entry and gateway envisioned by the design team.  From this gateway, as well as two new walkways connecting the planned Bee Cave Road sidewalks to the campus interior, native planting masses were added and designed circulation ways guide visitors into and through the campus.  A separate loop drive and parking area will form the threshold and safety zone specific to the new entry of the Butterfly Preschool. Other traffic is clearly directed without conflict to various church and multi-use areas.  The new public entry and face of the campus is designed to include mass plantings of seasonal native color and interest, and subdued landscape lighting with signage and gateways integrated into a low stone wall formed in a great arc spanning the entire width of the campus’ frontage on Bee Cave Road.  Shepherd of the Hills sees the future phased build out of the Master Plan as a result of important milestones of growth, and most importantly, of the value that it places on offering the larger community a place for spiritual respite and reflection in the fast paced, high speed world that Westlake Hills now finds itself part of.