Employee Spotlight: Bianca Koenig, PLA April 16th, 2018

Hello, my name is Bianca, but my close friends and family call me, “Chi-Chi.” I’m the second of five children, born to immigrant parents and raised in the Los Angeles area.  My mom came to the states at age two, from the Philippines. My mom’s father supported U.S. troops and survived the Bataan Death March. My father came from Czechoslovakia at age 21 on a journalistic trip, to share stories of the West. In 1968, he was granted political asylum after the Soviet Union invaded Prague. My father’s mom survived the Holocaust, but she was forever changed after having to lose her own mother and grandmother to the Nazis. She poured her trauma into her art. As a child I would visit her in studios and galleries. One time while watching her paint, I asked, “Babi, why do you lick your paint brush?” Her response was quick, “because my father told me not to.”

Wild and Wacky New Year’s Photos Were Always a Family Tradition

With five kids, in a suburb of LA, my mom made every effort to raise us “like we were on a farm.” This meant spending every weekend and every summer working on the family business- the maintenance and repair of rental properties. My mom always called it “family bonding,” and every hard-working day would start and end with a big meal together. If we wanted to hang out with friends, our best friends would just join us on the adventure– cleaning bathrooms, changing my brother’s (cloth!) diapers, painting houses- inside and out, stripping wood floors, clearing out dead roaches, digging up sewer pipes (so many clay sewer pipes!), and lots and lots of gardening. That’s probably why, when I looked at the long list of career choices ever known to man, “landscape architecture,” was the only thing I thought I could picture myself doing.

I attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on a pole vault scholarship. I chose Cal Poly over other schools, because I knew there was a really hot pole vaulter. Ok, maybe there were other reasons? Maybe, maybe not… After graduation, I returned to my hometown of Santa Monica, and gained extensive experience working for a firm in downtown LA. I enjoyed the challenges of working on a variety of private and public project types, from custom estates, to parks and streetscapes. After a year working in Southern California, the hot pole vaulter and I soon married and have since settled into the Cayucos life with our two young boys.

The Koenig Family Wishes You Peace and Resilience in 2018

Describe what you do at Wallace Group:

I design places for people. I’ve been working in the Landscape Architecture Department since 2003. During my time here, I’ve seen our group come a long way towards building the collaborative, multi-disciplinary team we have now. With our diverse group of hardworking folks all under one roof, I have the privilege of focusing on the design, beauty and experience of a project, and I can focus on what I love- helping clients solve puzzles and develop ideas to maximize opportunity.

Bianca at the first site meeting for the Monarch Club in Nipomo, 2005

Favorite activities with Wallace Group:

Adopt-A-Highway cleanup!!! It’s like a treasure hunt for the social sciences.

Activities outside of Wallace Group:
Other than trying to keep two small humans alive and prepare them to be good people in this world, I have the honor of supporting two specific organizations- Deanna Maran Foundation for Non-Violence and the Central Coast Green Building Council. Before children, I was a founding member for both of these critically relevant organizations and currently, as time allows, I support them both on the communications level, through graphic, web, and social media updates.

Favorite pastime:
Home improvement projects. Design and implementation. Pinterest is my happy place.

Favorite movie:
Any romantic comedy will do.

Favorite food:
Roasted lemon tarragon chicken with rice and green beans. If you’re coming to my house for dinner, there is a 99% chance this is what I’ll be serving.

Dream vacation:
Taking a nap on a warm, sandy beach.

Favorite childhood memory:
I can’t stop thinking about all the clay sewer pipes my sisters and I helped my dad to repair… and that one time the exposed Sawzall cord touched the standing water…

Your secret ability:
I can hang upside down from my toes… I think… that was my secret ability when I was twelve, I haven’t actually tried to do it lately.

Furthest away from SLO you have been:
That must be The North island of New Zealand. I’m not sure that counts though, since it looks just like the Central Coast, except they have sheep instead of cows. My sister sends me job openings once a month to try to get me to live there with her.