Asakura Robinson Receives Top Planning Awards at Texas APA

October 2, 2020   /   Press / Awards

Five Asakura Robinson projects have been selected as Texas’ best planning projects for 2020! The American Planning Association (APA) Texas Chapter announced the state’s best planning projects, advocates, and communities for the year as part of their Texas Planning Awards Program. The Awards Selection Committee evaluated nominees based on originality and innovation, engagement, implementation and effectiveness, quality, and promotion of planning and determined that several of our projects were gleaming examples.

We are thrilled that Resilient Houston took home top honors – Gold in the Resilience Award category. AR worked with the City of Houston as a subconsultant to the Water Institute of the Gulf and HR&A Advisors. The plan provides an implementable roadmap to help Houstonians overcome future shocks — from hurricanes and flooding to extreme heat waves — and chronic stresses such as aging infrastructure, poverty, and climate change. The Resilience Award recognizes strategies that increase the ability of a community to recover from and adapt to shocks and stresses (natural disasters, human-caused disasters, climate change, etc.), resulting in it becoming stronger and better prepared than ever before.

Healthy Parks Plan for Travis, Bastrop, & Caldwell Counties brought home Gold in the Environmental Planning category, celebrating efforts to create a more sustainable and healthy community in Central Texas. This parks plan developed with the Trust for Public Land and funded by St. David’s Foundation, includes a scientifically rigorous and community-informed analysis aimed at identifying locations for priority parks investments based on socioeconomic vulnerability, parks access, community health, and environmental vulnerability. Analysis results paired with Healthy Parks Design Guidelines developed based on the most current research on the connections between the built environment and physical, mental, and environmental health, resulted in a powerful toolbox for implementing tangible results on the ground. Both tools are available publicly to any non-profit, community, individual, or municipality interested in making data- and community-informed decisions about parks investments. Not only are these tools being used widely, they have also been used to inform the content of grant applications for a “Parks with Purpose” implementation grant offered by the St. David’s Foundation. What started as a regional analysis has resulted in over $3 million in near-term investments in parks with long-term impacts on equitable health outcomes.

Vision Galveston took home a Gold Award as well in the Public Outreach Award category. Asakura Robinson was a subconsultant to Huitt-Zollars on this effort, with team members Stoss and Mass Economics. This award honors efforts aimed at educating the public about the value of planning to create greater awareness among citizens. Between the efforts of the consultant team and a major on-the-ground effort from Vision Galveston’s staff, executive committee, and steering committee, the planning process engaged over 15% of Galveston’s population (approximately 8,500 people) to craft a vision for future resilient growth on the island. Asakura Robinson specifically worked to engage residents on visioning the future of housing, ecological health, and education. The result is an implementable vision for a resilient and inclusive Galveston with strong community buy-in.

Asakura Robinson was honored to work with the North Houston District and the Houston-Galveston Area Council on the North Houston Livable Centers Study, which received Gold in the Urban Design Award category. This award honors efforts to create a sense of place, whether a street, public space, neighborhood, or campus effort. We were thrilled to again unite with the strong consulting team of Huitt-Zollars and Traffic Engineers, Inc. for this project. Our work focused on two key strategies: a proposal to move residents out of the Greens Bayou floodway and preserve neighborhood cohesion through a “buyout / buy-in” program, and a proposal to convert newly accessible green space around Greens Bayou into a “Central Park” for the North Houston District. 

Finally, our work with the City of Houston’s Planning & Development Department on their User’s Guide for Walkable Places and Transit-Oriented Development got a nod with a Silver in the Implementation Award category. This category honors plans demonstrating a significant achievement for an area—a single community or a region—in accomplishing positive changes as a result of planning. This award emphasizes long-term, measurable results. The City’s Walkable Places and Transit-Oriented Development ordinances outlined in the User’s Guide offer a context-sensitive process that allows for reduced setbacks, increased buildable area, reduced parking requirements and provides guidance on the placement of parking,street trees, building ornament and fenestration, and other building and pedestrian realm elements. The ordinances went into effect in the City of Houston in the Fall of 2020.

Congrats to our team members, clients and staff! Look for more in-depth information about these winning projects next week on our socials!

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