San Felipe de Austin Visitor Center

November 2017   San Felipe, TX


  • Texas Historical Commission


  • Lord Aeck Sargent (prime)
Key Points

Creating a regional destination that invites visitors to immerse themselves in a nearly 200-year old story.

Historic Preservation

Because it is one of the oldest sites in the state, it was integral for the site deisgn to highlight the site's historical importance. Many of the site's archaeological and sensitive areas were left undisturbed.

Urban Ecology

Asakura Robinson made sure that the landscaping was true to the native plantings that early settlers would have been exposed to at that time and in that region.

Green Infrastructure

The design team utilized bioswales as the main drainage element to convey and detain runoff from parking lot and surrounding area, enhancing the natural and ecological aesthetics of the site and project as a whole.

Photo by Dror Baldinger

Recognized as the site of Stephen F. Austin’s historic 1820-1830 settlement and the birthplace of the “Old 300” land grants for Mexico and then for Texas, the San Felipe de Austin Historic Site shares the stories of early settlers in the region.

Approximately 80 acres were donated to the Texas Historical Commission and the Commission wanted to create a larger visitor center to serve more people. The master plan and landscape plan subsequently developed by Asakura Robinson and Lord Aeck Sargent emphasizes discovery of the historic site through a series of recreated streetscapes linked through a loop of small winding pathways that guide visitors to a new sustainably designed visitors center, outdoor exhibits, a pavilion, plazas and trails.

The San Felipe de Austin vistor center attracts school children throughout the region as well as history buffs and visitors from the nearby Stephen F. Austin State Park. Design features include shaded tree grove seating areas, custom benches and Lueders limestone paving that matches the building’s architecture, and wildflower berms to screen views and focus pedestrian traffic. Native plants are used prominently on site, including a parking lot bio-retention basin in addition to a native prairie overseeding.

In concert with the master plan, Asakura Robinson’s design helped restore the landscape to its natural and historic setting using native species and plantings common to that era including fruit and nut trees, Chinaberry Trees as street trees along with wildflowers and native grasses. Additionally, remnants of the original street grid and buildings were emphasized to highlight the historical context of the site.

Photo by Dror Baldinger
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