Press : Tribeza

As a city of true outdoor people, Austin loves nothing more than a
thoughtful, innovative outside space. From the formal, lush old English
garden to the stark lines of a modernist yard of green agaves and gray
stone, Rick Scheen, owner and founder of LandWest, has done it all. He’s
a true visionary, turning raw spaces into something beyond what his clients
even imagined. And he’s just getting started.

Scheen launched his career in the landscape architecture business in
Baton Rouge after graduating from Louisiana State University. He had a
successful company there for several years before moving to Austin, where
he spent a few years working for a large firm. In 2000, he founded Land-
West, and after almost a decade, he and his team have put their stamp on
some of the most interesting landscape architecture projects in the city,
like Lance Armstrong’s home, as seen in Architectural Digest. “I never have
preconceived ideas until I meet with the client and see the architecture of
the site. I need to get the client’s input before I get too crazy with all my
ideas,” he says with a laugh, showing the approachable likeability that most
of his clients seem to mention.

“Once I take it all in, my mind starts spinning. I could be in the shower
and a light bulb goes on—it could be something simple like an abstract
idea of angles or a shape. It’s a concept, and we are off and running once
that happens.”

The project pictured is a modern Westlake Hills home that presented
Scheen with a few challenges—a former drainage ditch had to be transformed
into a flowing creek; steep grades covered much of the land; and the
property, a mere 75 feet below Westlake Drive, had to be made to feel like
a quiet, secluded escape. The landscape stands now as a perfect example
of the visual impact of opposites placed side by side, as rough-textured
agaves sit atop a smooth concrete wall and green grass swoops over rustic
steel walls—all showcasing the power of contrasting modern man-made
architectural elements with nature. The stairs leading down to the creek
were built to look as if they were floating on the natural element. Scheen
excitedly explains: “We wanted the whole piece to feel like a landscape
architectural arm reaching out into nature, into the actual element.”
With this project and all his others, Scheen always enjoys revisiting to
see how the plants have matured, something he often does as part of what
is particularly special about LandWest—he not only designs and builds all
the landscape projects for a house, but the company also does property
management. “I have been working with a lot of the same masons for over
a decade, so I always know who is out on what job. We are all working
together to do better every day, and we design, build, and physically take
care of our projects with the specific client in mind. We’ve built quite a
machine, and it’s unique.” -L. Ford