Sawyer Yards

July 2017   Houston, TX

Client

  • Lovett Commercial
  • The Deal Company
  • Western General

Recognition

  • 2018 Development of Distinction Award, ULI Houston

Sawyer Yards represents a unique partnership between artist and developers to create a multi-use cultural destination. The project stems from previous urban planning studies completed by Asakura Robinson that identified an increasing need to create a cohesive new district for the arts.

Key Points

Pedestrian access and sustainable design features support a thriving arts district in Sawyer Yards.

Arts District

Establishing a concentrated arts district has helped to support and concretize a destination in a rapidly growing neighborhood near Houston's downtown.

Pedestrian Promenade

Walkability has been prioritized within the district to encourage connection and engagement with the over 300 working creative studios. Artists and vendors regularly activate the central promenade with markets and activities.

Sustainable Design

Rainwater tanks, native plants, pollinator plants, and zeroscaping are utilized along the development to promote local ecology and reduce irrigation and maintenance needs.


Sawyer Yards is the premier destination in the Washington Avenue Arts District. The development offers local and authentic experience that features a variety of art, dining, retail, live-work spaces, and entertainment across three main areas: Sawyer Yards, Silver Street Studios and the Silos at Sawyer Yards. With over 300 working creative studios, Sawyer Yards represents a unique partnership between artists and developers to create a multi-use cultural destination.

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The project stems from previous urban planning studies completed by Asakura Robinson in the community that identified an increasing need to create a cohesive new district for the arts. Working closely with the three main developers, Asakura Robinson’s public realm design of the former industrial site creates a visual cohesion in celebration of the Arts District while also complementing the uniqueness of the various spaces through elevated boardwalks, distinct planting palettes, and opportunities to display rotating work by local artists. The design emphasizes sustainable design techniques including the use of rainwater tanks, native plants, and pollinator species that promote local ecology and reduce irrigation and maintenance needs. The signature feature connecting the three main areas is Artist Alley, a pedestrian promenade lined with colorful sculptures and murals where artists host regular pop-up events in an open-air marketplace.


Re-envisioning what was formerly an industrial park into a thriving and sustainable arts center meant embracing and repurposing as much of the existing structural fabric as possible. It would have been all too easy to demolish the site and start from scratch, but prioritizing adaptive re-use saves building materials and prevents excessive waste.

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