Our residential, commercial, and civic environments are context-sensitive and beautiful, with moments of the unexpected. We champion resilient plants and sustainable materials crafted with a modern aesthetic.
We’re a certified Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) with the City of Austin and a certified Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) with the State of Texas. With expertise in the residential, commercial, and public sector, we provide landscape architectural services for a wide range of projects, working solo or as part of a team.
Why the name?
As landscape architects deeply rooted in the Central Texas landscape, we chose the name Studio Balcones as a reflection of our intentions and values. The Balcones Fault is the significant, defining feature of Austin. It runs north/south from Waco to Del Rio and divides the craggy, scenic Edwards Plateau from the rich soils of the Blackland Prairie. When the Spanish explorer Bernardo de Miranda y Flores crossed the dramatic stair-step terrain of our region in 1756, he called it “los Balcones” because of the resemblance to a series of rising balconies.
“It is the Balcones that creates the Hill Country, that sets the stage for the Edwards Plateau and the High Plains beyond.” —Stephen Harrigan (Texas Monthly, Dec 1987)
Ilse Frank (she/her) PLA, ASLA, Assoc. AIA
Ilse is a founding principal of Studio Balcones. As a firm leader, Ilse focuses on creative solutions for civic and institutional projects that will have significant impact on the future growth and function of cities.
Her work at the University of Texas at Austin was recently awarded 2020 Texas ASLA Merit Award and a 2021 AIA Austin Design Award of Merit. Prior to founding Studio Balcones, Ilse worked on many award-winning design competition projects at a firm in New York City. She has a Master of Landscape Architecture and a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. Ilse is a licensed landscape architect in Texas and Oklahoma. Ilse volunteers her time as a member of The Trail Conservancy's Project Committee and Arts & Culture committee and previously served on the Art In Public Place’s Advisory Panel. A native Austinite/unicorn, she loves enjoying tacos on a good patio, hikes with her dog, Brisket, and exploring the art scene with her husband, Tim.Read more +
Jennifer Orr (she/her) PLA, ASLA
Jennifer is a founding principal of Studio Balcones. Her commitment to protecting and supporting healthy ecological systems sits at the center of her work.
As a self-proclaimed “plant nerd,” Jennifer oversees all office planting design, and loves to insert whimsy and play into her projects. Her Belmont Parkway Residence won a 2021 Texas ASLA Merit Award and Home Slice North Loop won “Best Use of Hill Country” by the Austin Chronicle. Prior to founding Studio Balcones, Jennifer worked in Philadelphia designing award winning parks and civic spaces. She has a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in International Affairs from Georgia Institute of Technology. Jennifer is a licensed landscape architect in Texas. Jennifer is a 4th generation Texan with deep affection for her hometown Austin and Texas landscapes. She is a mother of two and enjoys exploring the natural world with her children and husband. Jennifer gives back as a current board member and past president of the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy.Read more +
Michael Meihaus (he/him) PLA
Michael Meihaus serves as our Studio Director and Lead Restoration Practitioner. With over 13 years of wildland restoration and landscape architecture work, he oversees the day-to-day studio operations and provides support for the entire team.
His specialization offers our clients technical expertise in reforestation, wetlands, meadows, and river systems, as well as unique perspectives on building an ecologically sound future for all projects. Michael’s work on the Yuma West Wetlands received the 2019 Ponderosa Pine Partnership Award for innovation in urban forest restoration, collaboration, and leadership on the banks of the lower Colorado River in Yuma, AZ. This work is only part of his broad breadth of experience designing and building new solutions for human and non-human environments. He has worked extensively with the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, BIA Navajo Nation, Arizona Game & Fish, City of Yuma, City of Austin, and many foundations and nonprofit entities. He holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from Kansas State University, and is licensed to practice in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Michael volunteers his time as a member of The Trail Conservancy Eco Committee serving downtown Austin’s beloved Butler hike-and-bike trail system. If you can’t reach him, he’s likely somewhere out on a river or lost on a trail with his family.Read more +
Beth Larkin (she/her)
Beth is an Associate who brings extensive project management and marketing expertise from her 13+ years of experience within Austin’s robust greenspace, parks, and active transportation nonprofit scene.
A true plant nerd (she’s not someone you want to hike with if you are looking to move quickly) she will stop and wax poetic about ecological systems, horticulture, and whatever critters appear, so be warned. Prior to joining Studio Balcones, Beth worked for nonprofit coalition Austin Outside (AO), which works to champion vibrant and thriving outdoor places for all in Greater Austin. Previous to that, she served for 9 years on the senior leadership team as the Project & Creative Director for The Trail Foundation, now The Trail Conservancy, and helped develop and manage many iconic Butler Trail projects. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M with a degree in Landscape Architecture in 2006. Beth is an avid knitter, voracious reader, food lover, hiker, swimmer, painter, weight lifter, and accumulator of hobbies.Read more +
Kat Mays (she/her)
Kat is an Associate who brings a strong background in commercial, multifamily residential, and master-planned communities in Central Texas to the Studio Balcones team.
Kat has a strong passion for how people interact with their outdoor environment. This passion, mixed with her 10 years of creative design and construction experience, allows her to bring thoughtful, sustainable, and cohesive designs to life. She is a lifelong Texan and proponent of using native plants to restore and enhance the vast landscapes Texas has to offer. Kat holds a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Texas A&M. Outside of work you can find her disc golfing around town, discovering new patios to enjoy some great food with her wife and two little boys, and woodworking in her garage.Read more +
Allison Bodin (she/her)
Allison is a landscape designer who brings her Cajun culture to the office by prioritizing a sense of community in all of her work. She is also passionate about honoring the site’s history and creating memorable moments that benefit both people and wildlife.
Prior to joining Studio Balcones as a designer, Allison was one of our favorite interns. She then went on to finish her Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University. She also received a minor in Geography. In her free time, Allison enjoys savoring a good cup of coffee outside, painting, caring for her many plants, and spoiling her pets.Read more +
Loren Almendarez (she/her)
Loren is a landscape designer who is passionate about native ecologies and encouraging lifelong play.
She has a strong background in ecological restoration and landscape maintenance, and has cared for many different ecologies across Texas. Prior to joining Studio Balcones she received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi and now holds her Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. She loves riding her bike around town, identifying weeds in the cracks of sidewalks, and sketching Austin's parks.Read more +
Carolina English (she/her)
Carolina is a landscape designer who is interested in the intersection of neuroscience, storytelling, and design.
She got her Bachelors of Arts in Neuroscience and Art at the University of Pennsylvania and researched how the brain creates and interprets spaces. This interest led her home to Texas to pursue a Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Texas. While at UT, she explored community building through design and experimented with the use of Magical Realism as a placemaking tool. She loves swimming in Austin’s springs, reading the lastest BookTok rec, and starting a new craft.Read more +
Michael Shuey (he/him)
Michael is a landscape designer who was drawn to the profession through his passion for native plants and riparian restoration.
His strength as a designer lies in his deep interest in understanding human behavior in the landscape to help improve the design of outdoor spaces. Michael was part of a team that was awarded 1st in the Master Plan category of the 2020 EPA Campus Rainworks Challenge for his sustainable design of the University of Texas at Arlington campus. Prior to Joining Studio Balcones, Michael received his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geography from the University of North Texas and now holds his Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington. On the weekends you can find Michael tinkering with his smoked brisket recipe, or searching for the next adventure with his group of hometown friends.Read more +
Tiffany Rasco (she/her)
Art, nature and Austin all come together at Studio Balcones and Tiffany could not be more excited to be a part of the team.
Making the most of her varied work experience: waiting tables, museum education and salon ownership, she assists wherever needed. Growing up in Austin and watching it evolve into a “grown-up” city, she finds it rewarding to work where nature, beauty and sustainability are still cultivated and created for everyone to enjoy.Read more +