Four Projects Win Top Honors at APA TX

October 5, 2022   /   Press / Awards

Asakura Robinson won top recognition from the American Planning Association – Texas Chapter for four projects. These awards, which recognize projects for outstanding planning work, leadership, and innovative solutions will be recognized at this years APA Texas Chapter Conference award ceremony in El Paso later this month.

Lufkin, unlike many historic downtowns in East Texas, has retained its historic buildings and their cultural significance throughout the years. Despite this, many of the buildings still sit vacant or underutilized. Asakura Robinson worked with the City of Lufkin and the Lufkin Economic Development Corporation to identify a variety of exciting projects, programs, and policies to create a community vision for the future of their downtown. This Plan will improve downtown infrastructure, beautification, and events through six overarching strategies identified through a robust community engagement:

  1. Enhance parks and open spaces as gathering spaces for residents and visitors.
  2. Improve how people travel through downtown, both on foot and wheels.
  3. Connect people to opportunities and downtown assets through signage and gateways.
  4. Ensure downtown has a variety of programming and events that are accessible to households at various income levels.
  5. Diversify and strengthen the downtown business community.
  6. Create new tools for the City of Lufkin, LEDC, and other partners to enhance and attract development.

This initiative will influence future development projects and public investments in Downtown Lufkin for years to come.

This planning process promotes community conversations and visioning around the green space that surrounds Central Williamson Creek. Central Williamson Creek is a stretch of nearly continuous greenway along Williamson Creek located in a primarily residential area of South Austin. The project area presented a unique opportunity to bring healthy park amenities to a locale that didn’t have designated, accessible green space.

Asakura Robinson provided landscape architecture, urban ecology and public engagement services for this impactful project while working alongside City of Austin, The Nature Conservancy and Community Powered Workshop. The engagement process began in May 2020 and was an opportunity for our firm to plan creative community engagement activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, community members shared videos of their “Creek Stomp” adventures in the creek at a virtual picnic event where community members discussed how they use the creek and their hopes for the future. Additionally, our team promoted vital ecological benefits, such as flood control, habitat for wildlife, carbon sequestration, and more, all while providing opportunities to develop ways that residents can connect with nature and use the green spaces for recreation, relaxation, and social gathering.

This plan serves as an example of how a grassroots and foundation-founded master planning process can become the “plan of record” for a city.

The East Aldine Livable Centers Study demonstrated originality and innovation by focusing a broad array of topical recommendations around the immediate, everyday needs of East Aldine’s residents and business owners, and their vision for the future of East Aldine. A comprehensive and inclusive engagement process, conducted bilingually in Spanish and English in a variety of content formats and existing communications webs, built awareness, understanding, and support from the community, including the involvement of people who had not previously participated in planning processes. A comprehensive series of implementation-focused meetings with project partners, in addition to a detailed and living Project Tracker document, strengthened the path towards implementation of the recommendations. From the scale of individual well-being to regional connectivity, the recommendations in this study lay a foundation for the residents of East Aldine to continue to uplift their community into the future.

Asakura Robinson was honored to work with Traffic Engineers, Inc. and Tecolotl on this transformative livable centers study for East Aldine Management District and Houston-Gavleston Area Council.

In collaboration with The Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, FordMomentum!, The University of Texas at Austin, and CDS Community Development Strategies, Asakura Robinson conducted housing research for the Harris County Housing Study that provides strategies to meet the demand for affordable and sustainable housing development through 2030. Our firm provided our affordable housing and community engagement expertise to help quantify residents’ priorities and recommend solutions to these challenges. Engagement work included the creation of a survey for Harris County residents illustrating housing needs, and development of interactive online engagement techniques using hypothetical “family narratives” to illustrate trade-offs and values.

Congratulations to all of our collaborators, clients and fellow winners of this year’s APA TX awards!

Asakura Robinson Receives APA Houston Awards September 8, 2022   /   Press / Awards