Waller Creek – Creek Corridor Framework Plan

Austin, Texas

The Waller Creek Conservancy, in partnership with the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department and Watershed Protection Department, is developing a chain of parks around a restored Waller Creek in downtown Austin. Running from Waterloo Park 15th Street to Lady Bird Lake, the new Waller Creek parks district will include more than 37 acres of newly designed and connected urban parks and public open space, and more than three miles of new hike and bike trails.

A Framework Plan is a planning tool that prioritizes strategic thinking over the more prescriptive and programmatic approach of a traditional Master Plan. The recommendations and guidelines of this plan are tailored to analytic and technical criteria in order to find “footholds” for working within the dynamic complexity of the creek environment.

As project manager for the capital improvement projects for Waller Creek, we worked with the entire team managing the agreements, scheduling work flow, coordinating cost estimates and establishing budgets.

Benz Resource Group was the quiet force guiding the extensive design and consultant team for the Waller Creek Corridor Framework Plan, clarifying responsibilities, defining deliverables, and ensuring that the project stayed on schedule. Susan and her team make complex projects and collaborative problem solving a smooth and effective process in which everyone feels heard. Benz Resource Group is a true partner, owning all aspects of the project and creatively navigating projects to the best possible outcomes.
Peter Mullan, CEO, Waller Creek Conservancy

Munday Library

St. Edward's University, Austin, Texas

The Munday Library – an addition to and renovation of the campus’s existing library – was imagined as a single central space that enhances and catalyzes interaction around technology and group learning. The new library also provides a signature academic space that embodies the values of the university: intrinsic connection to the community and grounding in the natural world.

The Munday Library also reconnects a neglected grove of live oaks to the network of shady courtyards that dot the campus hilltop. Framed views at either end of the building emphasize these connections and establish the library as the academic heart of the university. Activity inside is highly visible upon arrival and late into the night when the library becomes a beacon glimpsed from paths in all directions. A courtyard situated at the building entrance provides shaded relief and acts as an extension of the commons with casual seating and outdoor study space.

Architects: Sasaki AssociatesConstruction Manager: VRW ConstructionCompletion Date: August 2012
The Munday Library at Saint Edward's University is a building we are very proud of, and its success is in no small way the result of Susan and her staff at Benz Resource Group. Their ability to anticipate issues long before they could turn into problems and to steer a path around them made all the difference. They were the perfect partner.
Bryan Irwin, Principal, Sasaki Associates

Auditorium Shores Park

Austin, Texas

Auditorium Shores, the “front lawn” of our city, was renovated to create an improved event lawn, expanded off-leash dog park, improved hike and bike trails and irrigated lawns and planted areas. The shoreline of Lady Bird Lake is naturalized to provide sustainable habitat and the construction was phased so that portions of the park were open at all times. This project was a public private partnership with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the Austin Parks Foundation and funded through public and private sources.

Landscape Architects: TBG Landscape Architects, Construction Manager: Clean Scapes, Inc., Completion Date: May 2015
We have worked with Benz Resource Group on multiple projects for the last 4 years. Susan and her team are the ultimate professionals and they truly deliver on the "on time and under budget" promise. Working with them has been a pleasure on every project.
Colin Wallis, Executive Director, Austin Parks Foundation

Onion Creek Metropolitan Park Master Plan

Austin, Texas

The Onion Creek Metro Park is 555 acres of parkland located in southeast Travis County, along 2.5 miles of Onion Creek. The relatively flat, wooded Onion Creek Metro Park was purchased by the City of Austin in the late 1990s, making it the largest city-owned park in Austin. Nearly 15 years later, a new special district creates a funding source and opportunity for long-term, ongoing maintenance to be used to build and maintain the parkland.

Responding to the unique ecology of the park and creekshed, and based on input from residents, community leaders, and city planners, Benz Resource Group guided the multi-disciplinary team through the master planning process. This project was a public private partnership between the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Benchmark Development and the Austin Parks Foundation.

Landscape Architects: SWA Landscape Architects, Completion Date: May 2015
Benz Resource Group is more than just a resource to ensure your project reaches the intended destination but also is a facilitator of good design. Susan’s group did an outstanding job managing all the basic requirements (on time and in budget). Additionally, Susan’s collaborative nature and design expertise helped enhance the ultimate Park Master Plan by weaving the public/private interests. She motivated the technical design team to reach a higher level of service in processing the public input which created a usable and realistic design. We would not hesitate to use them in the future.
Myra Goepp, Vice President, Benchmark Land Development

Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel

St. Edward's University, Austin, Texas

Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel is a simple wood framed 100 year old structure that was remodeled to infuse it with light, warm materials, improved comfort and elegance. The building was once a military barrack, a bowling alley and a machine shop before it was fashioned in to a chapel quite a number of years ago.  The project’s task was to bring it back to its original beauty, improve the lighting and acoustics, install new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and to make an addition to provide office spaces for the Campus Ministry department.

Wood harvested from an old tree on site was used to build the altar and religious furnishings. The offices for the Campus Ministry were built as an addition connected by a glassy public space while outside, a new contemplative garden was created providing a place for the campus community for prayer and quiet reflection.

Architects: Pollen ArchitectureLandscape Architects: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Construction Manager: Sabre Commercial, Custom Furnishings: Macek Furniture Company, Completion Date: December 2014

Alumni Gym

St. Edward's University, Austin, Texas

The Alumni Gym was built by hand in 1950 by the Brothers of Holy Cross at a time when air conditioning was a luxury and so this 14,400 square foot brick structure had none, nor did it have insulation or waterproofing. The building exterior of Austin Common brick is an original campus standard and needed to remain therefore a new wall system with insulation and waterproofing was built inside the exterior walls. Tucked within this new envelope are mechanical ducting and storage faced with wood, keeping the feeling of the old but functioning in the present. Remodeling the existing locker and toilet rooms provided new offices and workout spaces. A new entry structure was added to better address the campus center and serves as an open porch for students to meet.

Architects: Mell Lawrence ArchitectsConstruction Manager: Bartlett Cocke General ContractorsCompletion Date: September 2014

Topfer Theatre at ZACH Theatre Center

Austin, Texas

A new 30,000 square foot iconic structure now sits on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, the Topfer Theatre, clad in bright blue aluminum panels, offers 428 seats with excellent acoustics, state-of-the-art performance equipment, intimate sight lines, fully trapped stage and fly tower and outstanding public lobby spaces and lounges. The balcony overlooking the People’s Plaza is used for new commissioned brief plays available to the public before shows.  The large rain garden fronting the park is designed to capture and clean that important first inch of rainwater that otherwise would wash dust and dirt in to the lake. The entrance to the theatre faces ZACH’s campus, now three theatres and a production and rehearsal facility, and is flanked by two very large glass curtains that theatre-goers enter through to the mystery and delight within.

Architects: Andersson Wise ArchitectsConstruction Manager: JE Dunn Construction Co.Completion Date: 2011
[Benz Resource Group] is thorough and offers a tremendous opportunity for any group seeking to build a building, but particularly for a non-profit whose staff maybe stretched beyond capacity just fulfilling the core mission of the organization, let along programming, designing, permitting, building, and occupying a new facility... Perhaps Susan's best quality is her optimism. She has never met a problem that she couldn't overcome somehow. She employs that optimism on behalf of her clients to keep the focus on solutions rather than obstacles; this fundamental approach is a difference maker and essential in getting to the finish line.
Tom Terkel, Board Member, ZACH Theatre Center

City of Austin / YMCA North Austin Recreation Center

Austin, Texas

The North Austin Community Association lobbied long and hard to get a new recreation facility in their neighborhood. Through a new public/private joint venture between the City of Austin and the YMCA of Austin, this new LEED Silver facility provides much needed community spaces, a swimming pool, gymnasium, child watch center and workout spaces. A new community garden will be built as part of the City’s Art In Public Places program.

Architects: Studio 8 ArchitectsConstruction Manager: JE Dunn Construction Co.Completion Date: 2013
It has been a pleasure to work with Susan Benz and her team. I am more than happy to offer a stellar recommendation.
James Finck, CEO, YMCA of Austin

School of Leadership Studies, Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

The new School of Leadership Studies Building, located on the campus of Kansas State University, opened in January 2010. The 36,000 square foot, $11.2 million facility provides a state-of-the-art teaching environment designed for collaborative and inclusive pedagogy, and was the first LEED Certified building on K-State’s campus. With student organization offices and meeting rooms, faculty offices, informal meeting areas and a cafe, as well as three classrooms, three seminar rooms, and a 200-seat Town Hall auditorium, this building is a center of activity in the heart of the campus.

Design/Build: Opus Northwest, Completion Date: January 2010
Ms. Benz is knowledgeable about all aspects of a building project and an effective educator to those of us who are not. She envisions the successful completion of the building from the beginning of the project and capably manages all aspects to ensure success. She chairs meetings with diplomatic timeliness. Her budget projections are conservative yet accurate. She is highly effective at "getting to yes" whether it be in negotiating contracts, personnel disputes or bringing consensus among the many vested interests of a university project. Additionally, she monitors schedules rigorously for all parties involved, is always a step ahead and never fails to advocate fully for the owner's interests.
Dr. Susan Scott, Founding Director, School of Leadership Studies, Kansas State University

Doyle Hall, St. Edward’s University

Austin, Texas

Doyle Hall, on the campus of St. Edward’s University, served as a women’s dormitory from the early 1950’s and was renovated to provide faculty offices, a psychology research center, administrative offices and a coffee shop. At the east end of the building is a new addition that creates a central courtyard dominated by a large oak tree. The addition provides three classrooms on the ground floor with faculty offices above. Facing west, the addition is screened by a horizontal louver system allowing natural light to flood the active hallway outside the classrooms and the Dean’s Suite on the second floor. This 25,000 square foot remodel and 8,184 square foot addition cost $7.9 million and was completed on schedule for the Fall 2009 semester.

Architects: Specht Harpman ArchitectsGeneral Contractor: VRW ConstructionCompletion Date: 2009
It has been a pleasure to work with Susan Benz and her group of associates. Projects they handle are always on time and within budget. They are always consummate professionals.
Rhonda Cartwright, Former Vice President for Financial Affairs, St. Edward's University

Beach Museum of Art Addition, Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

The new Jarvis Wing at the Beach Museum of Art was built to provide galleries for temporary exhibits, an outdoor sculpture court and curatorial facilities. In addition, some areas within the existing museum building underwent remodeling, including mechanical upgrades and window glass replacement. The 17,000 square foot addition was completed in the fall of 2007 for a total project budget of $6.5 million.

Architects: Andersson Wise ArchitectsGeneral Contractor: Coonrod & AssociatesCompletion Date: 2007
I really felt that she was the owner's representative on the project, and would and did fight for issues that were central to our building. In many ways this advocacy helped ensure the quality of the project from financial, to schedule, to building function, and architectural details.
Lorne Render, Director, Beach Museum of Art

Fleck Hall, St. Edward’s University

Austin, Texas

Fleck Hall served St. Ed’s as a science building from 1958 to 2007, when it was converted to a general purpose classroom and meeting room building with a full renovation of the existing two floors and an addition of a third floor and elevator tower. This 28,000 square foot building was extremely tight on schedule and budget, calling upon the management, design and construction teams to be creative every step of the way. As the first building encountered at the university’s main entrance, Fleck Hall serves as a reminder that re-use is not only viable, but optimal.

Architects: Andersson Wise ArchitectsGeneral Contractor: American Constructors Inc.Completion Date: 2007
Benz Resource Group has done an excellent job for the university. Susan is detail-oriented, maintains highly efficient project tracking systems and stays on top of every issue. Her greatest assets, however, are facilitating creative solutions and collaborating with all of the project team members. She is fair, she does what she says she is going to do and she completes tasks in a timely manner. These traits foster trust among team members and allow her to be an extremely effective leader when challenges arise.
Dave Dickson, Former Vice President for Financial Affairs, St. Edward's University

SEDL Office Building

Austin, Texas

The SEDL office building provides 49,300 square feet of Class A office space and a garden retreat for staff. Benz Resource Group was hired by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) at the very start of the project to assist in developing project budgets, selecting an architect and determining whether to build new, purchase and remodel or relocate to a new rental space. Once the decision was made to build at the RMMA development, Benz Resource Group monitored the professional services’ progress, schedules and budgets through move-in, representing SEDL with regulatory agencies, Austin Energy District cooling representatives and the development management.

Architects: Studio 8 ArchitectsGeneral Contractor: Raymond Construction, Inc.Completion Date: 2008Real Estate Brokers: Oxford Commercial
Susan evidenced many strong characteristics in her work with us... including dedication, reliability and honesty... I never worried that there was something I needed to worry about because I knew Susan was diligently watching over all that was being done.
Wesley Hoover, President and CEO, SEDL

Premont Hall, St. Edward’s University

Austin, Texas

This 27,000 square foot men’s dorm was built in 1963 and served the University’s freshmen men until the spring of 2005, when the building interior was remodeled to provide faculty offices. Benz Resource Group assisted in setting the budget, selecting the architects and general contractor, purchasing furniture and coordinating move-in.  At $2.0 million, the budget was tight, but the construction schedule was even tighter: construction began when the students moved out in May and was complete in time for faculty to occupy in August.

Architects: McKinney York ArchitectsGeneral Contractor: VRW ConstructionCompletion Date: 2006
Benz Resource Group performs all the functions of a project manager such as contract negotiations, chairs team meetings, monitors budgets and schedules, facilitates solutions and protects the owner's interests. However, the reason the university continues to call on Benz Resource Group is the way they execute and the results they achieve.
Dave Dickson, Former Vice President for Financial Affairs, St. Edward's University

Washington State History Museum

Tacoma, Washington

This history museum telling the story of Washington State is located in an urban historic district and is directly adjacent to the most historic of Tacoma’s buildings, the old Union Station. Roughly 100,000 square feet in size and $26 million in construction costs, the museum was designed for maximum flexibility of programming, yet with very tight environmental controls for the protection of historic artifacts. Mechanical and electrical systems designed to maintain the proper humidity, temperatures and particulate levels were very important. In addition, security was a high priority and was complicated by the requirement that physical and electronic systems be nearly invisible! Twelve consulting firms overlaying design and technical requirements were coordinated and incorporated under Susan Benz’ direction.

Architects: Moore/Andersson ArchitectsCompletion Date: 1994
Susan's unique contributions to the project were her abilities to facilitate dialogue between the museum and the balance of the design team, plus management of all the prosaic logistical details in contract administration and scheduling, the absence of which has wrecked many a project.
David Nicandri, Director, Washington State Historical Society

Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

The Beach Museum of Art, nestled among trees in the oldest and most beautiful corner of this medium-sized campus, bisects an important pedestrian path linking ‘town’ and ‘gown’. The building houses the University’s art collection and provides much needed multi-purpose space as well as additional classrooms for the Art Department. The functions of the building were separated into two wings bridging the pedestrian path; one serves as the ‘vault’ for the display, storing and curation of the art, and the other for academic and public functions. Through a value-engineering program, the $6 million budget was stretched to upgrade and improve this very important corner of the campus and its grounds.

Architects: Moore/Andersson ArchitectsGeneral Contractor: Eby ConstructionCompletion Date: 1996 (Phase I)This work was completed during Susan Benz' previous employment.
Susan Benz's professional relationship with the entire K-State working group was and is excellent. She displayed a relentless pursuit of excellence in cost saving changes, quality management, scheduling and overall management of the project.
Gary Hellebust, Former President and CEO, Kansas State University Foundation

Chihuly Bridge of Glass

Tacoma, Washington

Connecting the plaza of the Washington State History Museum to the rooftop of the new Museum of Glass, this pedestrian bridge not only crosses four lanes of traffic and multiple railroad lines, it is a destination in itself. Internationally renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly worked in tandem with the design team to design pavilions filled with his art, making the bridge itself exhibit space. Susan Benz maintained the project cost control, conducted the project meetings and maintained the permanent record. She served as Project Manager, coordinating the design work of the civil engineers, bridge designers, architects and artists through the design development phase of the project.

Architects: Moore/Andersson ArchitectsCompletion Date: 1994This work was completed during Susan Benz' previous employment.
I was extremely impressed with Susan's design and technical abilities, as well as her ability to oversee this unique project.
Dale Chihuly, Glass Artist

Lechmere Station

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Lechmere was planned as a $50 million, multi-modal light rail and bus terminus with an auto “kiss and ride”, parking facility and electrical power sub-station. The technical and engineering complexity of this project came from the necessity to coordinate the efforts of multiple transportation, civil and electrical power engineers, representing three competing companies, who were not always in agreement on the most cost-effective solution to the design puzzle. Susan Benz’ negotiation skills effectively secured their cooperation and a design solution. Due to changing program requirements and the complexities of the site, this project went through multiple design schemes over a five-year period, during which time quality control of construction documents was provided by Susan Benz. She served as the Project Manager for three of the five years until the program was put on hold due to economic constraints of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Architecture by Wallace Floyd Associates, 1990. Due to a downturn of the economy, this building was not built. This work was completed during Susan Benz' previous employment.
[Susan's] rapport with our clients and their needs has been exceptional, and her ability to motivate her project team has been a major factor in the successful completion of the projects she has managed.
Peter Floyd, Wallace Floyd Associates

The Long Center for Performing Arts

Austin, Texas

Palmer Auditorium, an architectural icon of the Austin townscape, was to be remodeled and augmented to create a fine arts performing center with three performance halls, a rehearsal hall and support functions. For a period of over a year, while the owner, ARTS Center Stage, continued to organize, Susan Benz provided Project Management services representing the owner. During that time, while employed by the associate architect to the design architect, Skidmore, Owens and Merrill, she coordinated meetings, sought design and technical proposals from consultants, negotiated contracts and wrote and implemented a plan to meet the minority participation goals established by the City of Austin.

Architects: Skidmore Owings & MerrillSusan's participation 1998-2000: this project was not built as conceived by SOM. This work was completed during Susan Benz' previous employment.
[Susan] was always welcoming, always ready to help, organized, motivated and able to bring resolution to conflicts and disagreements. I hope you will consider Susan for your important projects, as I am certain she will lead you to a satisfactory and pacific conclusion.
Leigh Breslau, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Hawkins Residence

Austin, Texas

This remodeled residential compound resting on a bluff above Town Lake is part Tuscan, part Texas regional and part classic modern. The Main House was originally designed in the Tuscan style, and the traditional layout of small, interconnected rooms with small windows was altered to create open, flowing spaces to take advantage of the Texas light. A guest house situated part-way down the cliff face was replaced by a new, contemporary structure with a round, glass-enclosed dining/meeting room. Two smaller houses remodeled from garages for the teenagers and a pool cabana complete the compound.

Architects: Dick Clark + AssociatesCompletion Date: 2003This work was completed during Susan Benz' previous employment.
Susan Benz brought a clarity and calmness to a long, arduous project that kept me sane! I don't believe there is a better senior level project manager in Austin.
Rick Hawkins, Owner