The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is leading a master planning effort for Brush Square, one of three remaining original public squares in Austin, and Asakura Robinson is leading the effort. The square is located at a crucial point downtown, a busy intersection of locals and visitors fronting the Austin Convention Center and the CapMetro Downtown Station. The historic Austin Fire Station #1, the city’s oldest fire station, along with the O. Henry and Susannah Dickinson museums. The square is also the site of major events such as the SXSW Registrants Lounge and the yearly O. Henry Pun Off, which attracts hundreds and attendees annually and to which participants travel from around the world to complete.
Space is limited at the park and the aging fire station’s operations require much of the park to be used as a parking lot and equipment staging area. The park also unfortunately sees elevated crime activity. Funding for improvements, along with a vision of the future relocation of the fire station, are key considerations for the plan. In light of these complex issues, the master planning process has undertaken a robust engagement strategy with an eye towards implementation. The project is engaging a wide range of participants including a Technical Advisory Group, comprised of City staff; a Planning Partners group, including neighborhood associations, nonprofits, and other organizations; as well as the local churches, implementation partners, and the general public. In addition to a preferred design concept, the result will include a conceptual cost opinion, phasing recommendations for short and long term capital improvements, and potential financing strategies.
In addition to the planning process, our team has enjoyed developing a strong branding strategy for the the project. Based on summer camp signage and vintage park uniforms, the designs created a sense of playful excitement, and have been used to develop a cohesive public message on all project materials. In a play on the square’s most visible public event, the O. Henry Pun Off, pun-y phrases were used on outreach materials, including postcards, signs, children’s activities, and social media posts.
Currently moving towards the public release of the final plan, the project has the potential to bring together a diverse group of nearby stakeholders and move forward long-standing downtown issues. Learn more about the project and view engagement materials here.