L A N D S CA P E A R C H I T E C T U R E
Asakura Robinson is a planning, urban design, and landscape architecture firm dedicated to strengthening environments and empowering communities through innovation, engagement, stewardship, and an integrated design process.
WHO WE ARE Founded in 2004 by Keiji Asakura and Margaret Robinson, Asakura Robinson has built a solid reputation for sustainable design solutions and design excellence. As a firm, we strive to assist visionary clients to spur positive change through a collaborative design process. We focus on engaging communities in ever more diverse project contexts while maintaining a high level of creativity and collaboration in every endeavor. Three key values inform all of our work: interaction, diversity and innovation. We value the ability of the public to participate in our projects, creating places that encourage social interaction, and our staffâ€™s deep engagement in our communities. We value our diverse workplace and communities and seek to optimize existing community-based and ecological resources. Finally, we value creativity in our processes, materials, technology, collaborations, approach, and design palette.
EXPERIENCE OFFICE LOCATIONS
14 YEARS in Business
4 OFFICES IN
Austin, TX Houston, TX Minneapolis, MN New Orleans,LA
50+ PROFESSIONAL AWARDS in Planning & Design
LSU TOP 100
Fastest Growing Business - 2014, 2015, 2016
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Keiji Asakura holds over 40 years of experience in urban design, landscape architecture, and community planning throughout the US and internationally. In his highly regarded practice, Keiji provides a holistic vision and context-sensitive approach creating plans and designs that enhance mobility, connectivity, community health, and social interaction, while respecting the historic and cultural heritage of a site. Keiji is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Council of Fellows and is the recipient of numerous high honors including the ASLA Distinguished Member Award, the Presidentâ€™s Call for Service Award, and the City of Houston Mayorâ€™s Proud Partner Award for Distinguished Service.
MARGARET ROBINSON, FOUNDING PRINCIPAL
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Margaret Robinson holds over 30 years of planning, urban design and landscape architecture experience specializing in parks master planning, green infrastructure, and creative public space design in Texas, California, and abroad. As an expert and advocate of sustainable design, Margaret obtained her LEED Accredited Professional credential in 2006 and has brought the firm to the forefront of sustainable landscape planning and design throughout the region. Margaret is a founding member of the Texas Land/Water Sustainability Forum created in 2008 to advocate LID and green infrastructure in the State. Margaret speaks frequently on this topic to local, regional and national audiences.
MANAGING PRINCIPAL | DIRECTOR OF PLANNING
Zakcq Lockrem focuses on the experience of public space and the role of movement through the city in shaping civic engagement and built form. He brings over 15 years of broad project experience from the gulf coast, New England, California, southeast and east Asia, Mexico, and West Africa working on issues from transit planning to disaster recovery to affordable housing. Zakcq also develops cutting-edge public participation strategies to build the capacity of project stakeholders. He is a co-founder of Social Agency Lab, a collaborative of urban planners and designers who engage in public art and creative urban interventions. Zakcq is one of the 2015 Next City Vanguard, a group of 40 urban thought leaders under 40 and is a sought after speaker on urban topics.
Alex Miller specializes in planning for community revitalization and economic development, working with our clients and stakeholders to create economic policies, programs, and projects that benefit communities socially and environmentally. She has extensive experience in community and land-use planning, real estate development, blight reduction strategies, and community engagement. Her portfolio includes affordable housing strategies, career pathways studies, revitalization plans, commercial corridor analyses, and other projects designed to ensure that all populations realize opportunity within changing environments. As a former public opinion research professional, she also maintains a special focus on research-based projects that inform our planning and design work across sectors.
HAYLEY PALLISTER MANAGING PRINCIPAL
With over 16 years of industry experience, Hayley Pallister specializes in office management and business administration and works closely with our principals to develop and nurture Asakura Robinsonâ€™s branding and reputation within the industry, identify educational and professional development opportunities for staff, and coordinate day-to-day operations of the firm. She is a former Speaker Chair of the AIA COTE Gulf Coast Green Symposium and is a current advisor and former board member of the Citizenâ€™s Environmental Coalition.
PLANNING & URBAN DESIGN Whether focusing on streets or public spaces, long range planning visions or urban design projects, the public realm is at the core of our planning and urban design work. Our projects include successful plans and designs developed for both urban and suburban contexts. They range from long range strategic plans to more focused interventions that include detailed designs for streets, parks, and plazas. The common thread between our projects is our emphasis on engaging stakeholders, residents and adjacent businesses and developing a shared identity and public realm that is greater than the individual properties and businesses alone. Recent planning projects include: a public realm plan for Downtown Houston, Livable Centers Studies (small area and neighborhood plans) for numerous Houston neighborhoods, an Environmental Design Master Plan for a Business Improvement District, and Bicycle, Transit and Pedestrian Studies and Master Plans. Urban Design projects include Complete Streets designs and strategies for historic districts, traditionally African American neighborhoods, and industrial areas transitioning to mixed use neighborhoods. In addition to the economic, cultural and environmental aspects of urban design, we have a focus on the nexus between urban design and public health.
ENGAGEMENT Asakura Robinson is well known for taking on projects in challenging contexts and the key to our success is a robust toolkit of traditional and outsidethe-box public engagement strategies. Our approach to engagement seeks to build capacity and ensure that the ownership of the plan lies with the community. By working closely with stakeholders and community members, our public engagement methods spark ideas, build partnerships, and serve as a catalyst to implementation. Our outreach strategies are multifaceted and tailored to resonate with different generations, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups to encourage involvement and interaction with all members of the public. We make a point of walking the streets and plugging into existing community events, using social media and digital outreach platforms, and organizing demonstration projects like â€œbetter block.â€? These proactive methods help us to reach communities and age groups that may not otherwise participate in planning processes, develop a greater consensus on project goals and recommendations, and build momentum towards implementation.
SMALL AREA PLANNING Working to create meaningful change in communities through planning, design, and engagement. Our approach is embedded within our firm values - the ability of the public to participate in our projects is key to creating places that encourage social interaction - and though our commitment to our diverse workplace and the communities we work in and with. Our practice includes economic and community development, housing policy and development, transportation planning, sustainability, urban design and landscape architecture, that offer a comprehensive approach to small area planning. We welcome the opportunity for community engagement that allows for maximum participation by educating them on the techniques we utilize and help them put this knowledge into action in order to build capacity and bring plans to fruition.
DIRECTOR & STUDIO LEAD
Managing Principal / Director of Planning
Zakcq focuses on the experience of public space and the role of movement through the city in shaping civic engagement and built form.
PLAN DOWNTOWN Houston Downtown Management District | Houston, TX
The past decade has brought new parks, transit, hotels, office buildings, restaurants and residential developments that have transformed the character of Downtown Houston, but whatâ€™s next? Plan Downtown: Converging Culture, Lifestyle & Commerce is the product of an 18-month planning process led by Downtown partner organizations and city, county and community leaders. Since Houstonâ€™s Sesquicentennial, Downtown has experienced a major resurgence and new opportunities abound. Plan Downtown represents the culmination of big ideas and thoughtful observations in a 20-year vision framework that positions Downtown at the forefront in advancing Houston as a great global city. Working closely with the client, leadership group and a large steering committee, Asakura Robinson led a team of consultants that included both local and national experts
Creating a downtown innovation district diagram
in urban design, landscape architecture, transportation planning and economic development. Our strategy focused on developing a plan for both the high level, 30,000 foot policy and program recommendations, while
also developing street level recommendations in order to catalyze the stakeholders vision and provide on-theground improvements that directly impact the experience of being Downtown. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/oHDJSB
SOUTH CENTRAL WATERFRONT Vision Framework Plan City of Austin | Austin, TX
A transformative plan for a lively, attractive pedestrian environment with expanded open spaces, enhanced waterfront connections and affordable housing. With at least $1.2 billion of private redevelopment forecast over the next two decades, the South Central Waterfront (SCW) Vision Framework is designed to help guide public and private investment by providing a cohesive set of recommendations. Developed in partnership with ECONorthwest and McCann Adams, the Vision Framework positions Austin’s South Central Waterfront (SCW) as an iconic gateway from South Austin into Downtown and the Texas Capital. The final report details designs, policies, tools and next steps behind three complementary frameworks: • A Physical Framework for a district-wide green infrastructure system paired with a connected network of green streets, pedestrian connections, and open spaces. • A Financial Framework of strategic capital investments, development incentives, and public-private partnerships to realize improvements and affordable housing, as well as provide the future management and maintenance for the district. 2017 EXCELLENCE IN SUSTAINABILITY AWARD
American Planning Association
Illustrative Vision Plan
• A Proactive City Leadership Framework to make investments, establish financial tools, create incentives, leverage city assets, and develop partnerships for implementation. The SCW Vision Framework Plan was adopted by Austin City Council as an amendment to the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan in June 2016.
2016 PLANNING AWARD American Planning Association, Central Texas Section
FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/Jkf5Ax
2016 PLANNING AWARD American Society of Landscape Architects, Texas Chapter
FIFTH WARD / BUFFALO BAYOU / EAST END Livable Centers Study Houston-Galveston Area Council | Houston, TX
A unique opportunity to bridge parts of Houstonâ€™s Fifth Ward and East End by creating a unifying development around Buffalo Bayou. The Houston-Galveston Area Council, in partnership with Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and Greater East End Management District, initiated a Livable Centers study that engaged over 400 participants in the creation of a vision for the community, where the resulting recommendations promote the creation of walkable, mixed-use places that provide multimodal transportation, improve environmental quality, and promote economic development. The design team, led by Asakura Robinson, developed a comprehensive engagement strategy to gather insight on challenges and opportunities and develop recommendations based on six action-oriented themes: House, Eat, Play, Create, Connect and Build. These themes include strategies to preserve affordable housing, diversify housing stock, increase multi-modal access to destinations, improve park access and conditions, and attract jobs and services to the areas, including a grocery store, with interim solutions for improving healthy food access.
Fox Park: Triangular green space with potential for incorporating passive use amenities
FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/NINEs7 Fifth Ward Community Visioning
WESTCHASE DISTRICT Livable Centers Study
Houston-Galveston Area Council | Houston, TX
Helping one of Houstonâ€™s main population and business centers remain competitive with other local business districts by promoting it as a true live, work, and play destination. Westchase District is highly accessible to regional population centers by car and is less expensive than several alternative business districts, which has made it a popular choice for construction of new office space. The residential and retail areas of the community, however, have begun to age and are not well-connected to the office environment, hampering future economic growth as a mixed-use district. The plan includes options to make the area more walkable, increase the number of owner-occupied housing opportunities, and accommodate new retail and destination development typologies. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/KNGdfz
Community Needs Assessment Connect Communities | Houston, TX
Partnering with a unique non-profit collaboration of community leaders in two Houston neighborhoods seeking to build healthier and more complete communities. Based in the KIPP Connect charter school, Connect Community is part of the nationwide Purpose-Built Communities network that focuses on holistic improvements to communities in order to benefit families and improve the future of every child. Asakura Robinson is working with Connect Community to conduct a community visioning process in four key sectors: Education and Workforce Development; Housing; Health and Wellness; and Transportation and Mobility. Integrated into each of these workgroups, we have focused on the fact that Gulfton/Sharpstown is a landing place for new immigrants to the United States, who often need additional supportive services in order for families and children to succeed. Our collaborative analysis with the community workgroups showed that the area suffers from a significant deficit in available open space, experiences housing challenges based on aging and substandard multi-family housing, and needs additional services for special populations including immigrants and refugees. These findings have been used to inform a multi-lingual engagement process that involves residents and children in envisioning the future of their neighborhoods. The completed Action
Plan is currently in draft form and includes proposals that follow community values of Empower, Connect, Nurture, and Thrive. Some example recommendations include empowering youth by forming a neighborhood Youth Council associated with the local superneighborhood, and using energy efficiency programs to help re-capitalize aging multifamily properties while retaining affordability.
HOUSING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Assisting communities with plans that lift up community assets, culture, and economic potential while working to mitigate quality of life and affordability issues for residents. Our approach emphasizes linked efforts that leverage new resources for growth and development, while ensuring that existing residents enjoy and benefit from the change that results. Our experience working with organizations and agencies in the economic development and real estate industries have generated incubators and financing opportunities for local entrepreneurs. Our work is grounded in observation and interaction with community members and stakeholders and strategies provide a strong vision, connect residents to opportunity, and respect their neighborhoodâ€™s look and feel.
SOUL-Y AUSTIN Austin, TX
Alex works with our clients and stakeholders to create economic policies, programs, and projects that benefit communities socially and environmentally through her expertise in community and land-use planning, real estate development, blight reduction strategies, and community engagement.
Implementation Plan City of New Orleans | New Orleans, LA
Providing a comprehensive 10-year strategy for housing production, quality, affordability, and rehabilitation throughout New Orleans aimed at generating equitable long-term outcomes. Asakura Robinson contracted with the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance to develop an implementable strategy for increasing transitoriented development (TOD) in areas with high-frequency transit routes. The goals of the study included improving job access for transitdependent individuals; increasing the potential for affordable and market-rate growth of housing units near amenities and schools; and developing a framework for multiple scales of density within neighborhoods, along corridors, and at key nodes and intersections. The frameworks and recommendations in the “Transit-Oriented Development for New Orleans” report combine best practices in transit-oriented development nationwide, HousingNOLA’s recommendations on increasing affordability for New Orleanians, and an indepth examination of the Master Plan and comprehensive zoning ordinance to identify specific, targeted areas for creating TOD in New Orleans. The recommendations also encompass transit routes that should be considered for improved headways during NORTA’s upcoming Strategic Master Plan process in order to increase job access and TOD potential. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/tzcF3a
Eligible Properties by Size
District Visioning, Planning, and Design City of Austin | Austin, TX
Offering services to an organized business group to enhance and support the small, local businesses that have defined the soul of Austin. As the 11th largest city in the US, Austin is experiencing rapid transformation and with it, a unique opportunity and challenge for Austinâ€™s small business community. With over 80% of Austin businesses employing under 20 people, the City of Austin launched Soul-y Austin Business District Incubator to shepherd welldefined commercial areas into developing self-sustaining merchant associations, with targeted education and support services. As part of this program, Asakura Robinson is providing district visioning, planning, and design services aimed at building capacity, harnessing a vision for the business districts, and forming an organizational structure that provides stability through the formation of a merchants
association. The results is a unified vision and a business strategy document that details the districtâ€™s goals, needs, and action items to benefit all the businesses within the district.
PITTSBURGH VACANT LOT TOOLKIT City of Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh, PA
Allowing communities to access cityowned land for stormwater management, urban farms + neighborhood beautification. With over 28,000 vacant lots in the City of Pittsburgh, the Vacant Lot Toolkit (VLTK) project addresses two key objectives: • To clarify and refine City Processes & Policies for the reuse of vacant lots, and • To create a Vacant Lot Toolkit documenting these streamlined processes to serve as a guide for local residents and community groups. As lead consultant, Asakura Robinson coordinated with the City’s Planning Department and developed a nuanced understanding of City’s departments and management structures, considered the roles of a diverse group of stakeholders and local organizations, and became familiar with many different neighborhoods within the context of the city as a whole. These insights informed the development of long and short-term recommendations to create better coordination among departments and a more streamlined process for activating vacant lots. Our final deliverable: a toolkit that provides information 2016 PLANNING AWARD American Planning Association, Pennsylvania Chapter
Vacant Lot Program Diagram
about local resources and clearly explains the process we developed with the City of Pittsburgh step-by-step for individuals and community organizations. FINAL POLICY GUIDE: https://goo.gl/dc1jyP FINAL RESOURCE GUIDE: https://goo.gl/YbjUez
Land Bank Assessment US Environmental Protection Agency | St. Louis, MO
Changing vacant properties from liabilities into assets through acquisition, strong management, and productive reuse â€“ including redevelopment and interim vacant land uses. Asakura Robinson worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and St. Louis officials to make recommendations on how to enhance the operations of the Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) in St. Louis. As the oldest land bank in the country, the LRA holds approximately 12,000 vacant properties within St. Louis. Our goal in this project was to examine the internal and external factors that shape the lifecycle of LRA-owned properties, from acquisition to maintenance, disposition, and redevelopment, in order to recognize opportunities, build on existing assets, and identify key improvements that will enable the LRA to continue enhancing St. Louisansâ€™ quality of life
through effective maintenance, disposition, and redevelopment of property. The final report includes examination of internal factors and draws from national best practices related to performance measurement, staffing, contracting, financial management, and regulatory reform for internal factors. For external factors the report identifies real estate markets, developers, financial institutions, neighborhood organizations, and City agencies in facilitating the disposition and redevelopment or reuse of vacant property. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/rCPHg6
Coastal Restoration + Water Management Workforce Study Oxfam America | New Orleans, LA
Image Source: Restore Coastal Alabama Project
Exploring opportunities to strengthen the Gulf-Coast workforce by leveraging career pathways in coastal restoration efforts. The coastal workforce study for Oxfam America and Limitless Vistas, Inc. focuses on assessing the feasibility of creating new career pathways in environmental restoration on the Gulf Coast by developing new credentialing programs, such as certificates, ongoing certification programs, or two-year degree programs. With an increasing level of funding currently flowing to the Gulf coast region for coastal restoration projects, Asakura Robinsonâ€™s qualitative study aims to create a pathway for underserved coastal communities to access coastal restoration jobs through affordable, accessible education and credentialing. The final report includes a literature review and assessment of available labor market data as well as an analysis of the results of several individual interviews that assess the overall feasibility of developing new stackable credentials for environmental technician occupations and determine critical considerations and partnerships needed for the creation of career pathways for lowincome and vulnerable Gulf Coast residents. These results will help the regionâ€™s residents prosper by saving our coastline and making our communities safe from flooding.
FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/shZLDm
TRANSPORTATION STUDIO LEAD
Enhancing mobility, accessibility, connectivity and safety for transit riders, pedestrians and people who bicycle. We work with cities, transportation departments, transit agencies and transportation engineers to tackle access and mobility challenges through innovative stakeholder and community engagement, rigorous collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data, thoughtful roadway and streetscape design, and the development of effective transportation and land use policies. Our work is guided by the impact we see on quality of life and urban development that are influenced by the ways that people move through the city.
Mattâ€™s expertise resides at the intersection of urban transportation, land use and economy where he develops data-driven, evidence-based, publicly supported and feasible recommendations that result in healthier, wealthier and more resilient communities.
METRO TRANSIT SYSTEM REIMAGINING Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County | Houston, TX
Frequent Network Map
The expansion of Houstonâ€™s light rail system presents an opportune time to reimagine the bus system in a way that will be easier to use and attract more riders. The underlying philosophy is to maximize ridership and quality of service in targeted areas rather than providing lower levels of service across a wider area. In the maps shown above, the existing system has been analyzed according to frequency of service in order to help target areas where quality of service should be increased. Asakura Robinson was part of the talented team hired to evaluate the desires of people who live and work in the METRO service area, and developed a new network that better serves the population. Asakura Robinson provided public outreach support to ensure that transit users understand the changes and how to use the system as it is reimagined. Part of this task involved creating a new map of the METRO system, educational materials to assist transit users, and a developersâ€™ guide to ensure appropriate development patterns are pursued along frequent transit lines. Stakeholder Engagement Meeting and Workshop
HOUSTON BIKE PLAN City of Houston | Houston, TX
Over the last decade, Houston has seen a surge in new residents, and with it, an increased demand for higher quality cyclist infrastructure and enforcement. In the first update since 1993, Asakura Robinson supported Traffic Engineers and the City of Houston to develop a comprehensive bikeway plan. The plan builds upon the existing and ongoing local and regional efforts to establish a comprehensive bikeway policy and network that can be utilized by pedestrians & bicyclists alike, for transportation and recreational use, in a safe and efficient manner. Asakura Robinson led public outreach to build a public conversation around exciting and realistic options and visions for cycling in Houston.
Public Engagement Bike Ride
In the existing conditions analysis, the team examined bike infrastructure by level of comfort for facility types (bike lanes, bike routes, shareuse paths etc.). Design techniques were then utilized to improve safety and level of comfort of infrastructure, which are reflected in our network map, not just by facility type, but to indicate comfort level as well. The Houston Bike Plan was adopted by Houston City Council in March of 2017. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/DKctiv 2017 OUR GREAT REGIONS AWARD Connect Category, Houston-Galveston Area Council
Demoss Street, Existing and Proposed
NOLA STRATEGIC MOBILITY PLAN New Orleans Regional Transit Authority | New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is famous for its St. Charles Streetcar â€“ the oldest continuously running streetcar line in the world. But greater New Orleans is changing, and so are the ways people move around. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) currently runs an expansive network of streetcars, busses and a Mississippi River ferry, but evolving technologies have created new options that compete with these traditional services, such as car share, bike share, and transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. In 2017 the RTA initiated a Strategic Mobility Plan to establish a new vision, goals and roadmap to improve public transportation in the city and region for the next 20 years. To ensure the RTA meets residentsâ€™ changing needs and expectations, Asakura Robinson examined the short, medium, and long-term market potential for various mobility strategies, and opportunities for the RTA to expand their service offerings. This process included extensive community participation in order to build an understanding of where demographic groups are moving within the metropolitan area and assessing the capacity for new, transitoriented development to reinforce transit ridership. Asakura Robinson teamed with Nelson Nygaard and In the Event on this project, which was completed at the end of 2017.
Urban Development Layout
DOWNTOWN AUSTIN PARKING SUPPLY & DEMAND Analysis & Management Strategy City of Austin | Austin, TX
As one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Austin is experiencing significant high density development in downtown and with it, an increasing challenge of parking. To continue to spur new development and grow as a desirable place, the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) hired a team of consultants to address the challenge of how to maximize use of existing parking facilities. The goal was to develop a plan with broad based support that provides clear and realistic guidance on strategies that leverage the private sector and bridge the gap between public parking supply and private facilities in order to meet existing and future parking demands. Early on in the process, the Steering Committee and consultant team developed goals and objectives that articulate a future vision in which Austinâ€™s parking system is: Supportive, Multimodal, Available, Cost Effective, User-friendly, and Adaptable. 2017 CURRENT PLANNING AWARD American Planning Association, Texas Chapter
Utilizing a data-driven process the team developed the first comprehensive inventory of downtown parking assets that provide an informed understanding of parking regulations and level of parking demand. The final report includes a detailed package of 19 recommendations organized by six strategy buckets and an implementation plan that includes immediate steps to generate momentum for future improvements. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/eYGzo5
District 4 Changes in Land Use
METRO BIKE & RIDE
Access & Implementation Plan Houston-Galveston Area Council | Houston, TX
Creating opportunities for multi-modal transportation, making it easier to get around by combining bus and bike travel. After experiencing an increase in the number of bicycles taken onto buses, The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) partnered with the Houston-Galveston Area Council and Asakura Robinson to determine how to accommodate the growing demand for combining multiple modes of transportation. In order to understand why cycling and transit are used in conjunction with one another, the team analyzed street connectivity, safety, system information, convenience, cost, weather and climate. This effort included thorough examination of transportation data (number of crashes, intersection density, commuter model split, transit ridership and number of bikes taken on transit), demographics, and METRO service data
(transit and bicycle ridership) Additionally, participant responses were collected through focus groups and surveys to gain additional behavioral and attitude insight. After the identification of trends and the research of best practices, Asakura Robinson developed locationspecific recommendations to connect bicycle infrastructure to transit facilities, operational standards for bike parking and on-board accommodations, and implementation priorities based on research findings. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/kfW0ac
URBAN ECOLOGY Providing a rigorous and multi-scaler ecological approach to planning and design with an equally rigorous focus on communities, equity, and socio-cultural value. Our Urban Ecology experience stems from our long standing interest in protecting, restoring, and enhancing natural resources through landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design. In our work, we reimagine landscapes and places at the intersection of human and environmental systems and work with clients and communities to help realize this goal. In practice, this often means helping municipal agencies, nonprofit environmental organizations, developers, and community organizations to take stock of the value of natural resources, and develop strategies for articulating, leveraging, and enhancing their value.
K ATIE COYNE a icp, cer tified ecologis t - e s a ,
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Senior Planner / Ecologist
Katieâ€™s traditional training in ecology allows her to understand the ecological imperative and technical nuances in the Urban Ecology Studioâ€™s work while her training in community planning and design has armed her with the tools to understand how economic, cultural, social, and ecological goals must be balanced across scales for a resilient future.
PARK-SMART PRECINCT 1 PLAN Harris County | Houston, TX
A unique plan to advance equitable access to quality parks and green spaces, to improve community health and wellbeing, build social connections and resilience, and expand environmental safeguards after Hurricane Harvey. • Evaluating current park and trail resources to identify and prioritize gaps in access, barriers to local usage for underserved populations, and identify key areas for enhanced active transit routes • Convening diverse local partners, fostering and coordinating community engagement, and sharing priorities, vision, and strategies with key stakeholders to build consensus • Assessing existing green infrastructure resources and identifying high priority areas for future investments • Identifying ways to integrate arts and culture to engage local communities and reflect their unique stories • Developing a web-based decision-support tool to strategically identify park priorities with advanced query and state-of-the-art geographic analysis
LANDA PARK & ARBORETUM Master Plan
City of New Braunfels | New Braunfels, TX
A 12-month community visioning process resulting in the first Master Plan for one of Texas’ oldest and most beloved city parks. Situated close to downtown New Braunfels and on the Comal River, Landa Park & Arboretum is a 50-acre park that combines an impressive array of features from a natural swimming pool fed by the Comal Springs – the largest springs in Texas – to walking paths, picnic areas, play areas, a lake and boathouse, many historic sites, and of course the arboretum itself which includes 54 species of trees dispersed throughout the park. To address the park’s age and heavy use, our master planning work focused on several core themes including improving accessibility, circulation, wayfinding, programming, parking, and site management, as well as a facilities assessment – all driven by a rigorous community-led process. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/z1Ugwc
LOWER RICHLAND COUNTY Tourism Plan
Richland County Conservation Commission | Richland County, SC
A tourism plan that envisions nature tourism, heritage tourism, and strategic investments in small business development as the keys to community stability and an emerging sustainable economy. Situated close to Columbia, SC, Lower Richland County is framed by significant rivers, home to Congaree National Park, numerous heritage sites, abundant prime farmland, and plentiful pride of place, yet despite these qualities, the county has experienced only limited economic development and has virtually no tourism infrastructure. The Lower Richland County Tourism Plan is an effort to create a sustainable tourism economy around Lower Richland Countyâ€™s enduring natural and cultural heritage and in step with the local communityâ€™s desire to retain the rural character of the area. Framework Plan Organized around three interrelated focus areas of Nature Tourism, Heritage Tourism and Small Business Development, the plan aims to grow a small business community in tandem with new programs to increase visitorship and provide greater resources for the areaâ€™s significant natural resources, agricultural opportunities, and historic sites. To achieve this, Asakura Robinson worked closely with the resident community, dozens of stakeholder organizations, elected officials and Richland County staff to develop a plan that is highly tailored to the needs of the local community and designed for implementation.
WILLOW WATERHOLE Public Access Plan
Harris County Flood Control District | Houston, TX
Balancing a rigorous prairie restoration process with the recreational needs of adjacent communities. As part of Harris County Flood Control Districtâ€™s restoration of a native prairie at the Willow Waterhole Stormwater Detention Facility, Asakura Robinson developed a Public Access Plan for the Prairie Management Area. Starting from the goal that the prairie should not only be well integrated with the adjacent basin park area, but also with the surrounding neighborhoods, our work was as much about crafting a plan as building consensus and support for the prairie among a diverse group of community stakeholders. To do this, Asakura Robinson organized a series of public meetings in collaboration with HCFCD, led discussions of the opportunities and challenges for the making the prairie more accessible, collected ideas and feedback from neighborhood advocates, environmental advocates
and management agency representatives, and ultimately produced a final plan that represented both stakeholder wishes and professional best practices for creating an exemplary park within a sensitive habitat area. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/pxTo42
Proposed Viewing Platform
2015 PNA AWARD Parks & Natural Areas Award, Houston-Galveston Area Council
Wetlands Restoration Planning Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello / State of Louisiana | Louisiana
Ensuring the protection of Louisianaâ€™s vital coastal areas through the restoration of marshes after decades of industrial degradation. Asakura Robinson is working with a team of experts to make restoration planning and design recommendations as part of litigation in Louisianaâ€™s coastal areas. As part of this work, the Urban Ecology Studio has calculated coastal land loss totals, created a graphics to illustrate where and to what extent land loss has occurred, and has created series of graphics to explain the process of land loss and the many complex and interacting factors influencing coastal environmental system change in the region. Additionally, Asakura Robinson has created a restoration suitability analysis that takes into account ecological, geological, hydrological, social, and economic factors in prioritizing restoration locations. This framework is being used at a broad scale across various study sites to identify restoration locations. A graphic transect approach was utilized to identify and understand the various ecological, social, cultural, and economic systems at play across study sites. Future work on this project will include site specific recommendations for restoration, ecosystem service benefit analysis, quantification of functional equivalency for quantity and quality of restored areas, and restoration cost estimates.
URBAN DESIGN Cities are diverse, beautiful and often messy places in which larger systems-political, social, physical, economic, environmental--are constant forces of adaptation and change. Asakura Robinson’s Urban Design studio combines the rigor of design with practice that goes beyond simply replicating successful spaces. We draw from national and international precedent while also recognizing that each city and public space is unique in its form, community stories, and needs. We focus on the venues of space, including streetscapes, open spaces, parklets, and plazas, and small area and infill design. Our process engages community stakeholders and leadership, considers broader relational contexts, and allows safe space for the city’s contingencies and personalities to engage with and contribute to the design of places.
l eed bd + c
Principal | Director of Urban Design
As Principal and Director of Urban Design, Brendan coordinates the firm’s urban design practice, serves as a project manager for design and landscape architecture projects and has been a key contributor to bridging the firm’s landscape architecture and planning projects through contextual response to site, conceptual design and articulation of planning principles in the public realm.
SOUTHERN DOWNTOWN / CBD Public Realm Plan
Houston Downtown Management District | Houston, TX
Downtown Houston has increasingly become a stage for a more diverse range of urban activities at all times of the day, however, the network of streets, parks and open spaces in the study area are still heavily monofunctional and designed simply for working commuters.
Asakura Robinson developed a Public Realm Master Plan for southern Downtown and the central business district that creates a diverse street network that accommodates all travel modes, and spaces that encourage public life around increased area investment. By improving the public realm and creating memorable spaces and destinations, this area becomes a part of peopleâ€™s mental map and are incorporated into their daily lives. The strategies address both streets and open spaces at a variety of scales: street classifications for the entire district, design guidelines for specific streets, concepts for a single block park, and small scale interventions at bus stops and key sites. The plan focuses on catalytic projects that can be implemented in the near future to create an immediate impact, but also sets the stage for future opportunities with long term strategies and policy recommendations. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/bbVgok
Parking & Blank Wall Strategies Diagram
FIFTH WARD PATTERN BOOK Travis County | Houston, TX
Establishing community branding and walkability standards to guide development and investment in the public realm and to support community-driven revitalization. Asakura Robinson was engaged by the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation (FWCRC) to build on the communityâ€™s vision developed during our Livable Center project. The Fifth Ward, home to culturally-rich Lyons Avenue, is poised to field increased development pressure in the near future. To aid the CRC in implementation and prioritization, the Fifth Ward Pattern Book identifies projects that should be taken on immediately, and on shortand long-term timelines to best use the communityâ€™s resources and further their overall goals of walkability and placemaking. Based on a strong understanding of existing conditions, the team established guidelines for building heights, setbacks architectural details, parking, signage, wayfinding, and other
streetscape elements. The final guidebook will guide the CRC as they work with the development community to create a strong corridor that reflects the community vision. FINAL REPORT: https://goo.gl/UmbM4f
EMMA S. BARRIENTOS
Mexican American Cultural Center Master Plan City of Austin | Austin, TX
A master plan for one of Austin’s hidden cultural centers that activates surrounding open space to highlight MexicanAmerican identity. On the ten-year anniversary of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC), the City of Austin launched a new master planning process for the future buildout of the center and surrounding parkland. Working with the local consultant team including the original Architects of Record for the building, Asakura Robinson is developing a landscape master plan that improves accessibility, parking, and creates a strong visual identity for the campus. The landscape improvements focus on three key improvements: • A highly visible “Gran Entrada” promenade to improve vehicle movements and provide pedestrian enhancements at the entry and walkways, including an installation/sculpture garden that highlights the existing architecture.
• Landscape and shading improvements within the site will make better use of open spaces, including the central “Zocalo” and paseo to the center’s theater and gallery spaces.
• Finally, creating a distinct connection to the lakefront and Butler trail system with a café, outdoor seating area, “Ventana” views to the lake, and a dock and seating and fishing area at the lake’s edge.
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE We are committed to creating vibrant public spaces through high-performance landscape design that is inspired by nature and driven by a collaborative and multidisciplinary design process. At the core of Asakura Robinsonâ€™s practice is the desire to shape the future of the places in which we live, work, and play. Our firm has a distinguished history of creating public spaces that are not only extremely implementable but also highly designed, well-researched, community-driven and impactful. Our practice springs from several distinct commitments that are intrinsic in our design process: a commitment to designing beautiful engaging public spaces that effectively channel high levels of pedestrian and bicycle mobility, proximity to parks, appreciation for natural features and integrated stormwater management. These commitments create the foundation for highperformance landscapes and represent the values we carry through our public space designs.
PARK AT PALM CENTER OST Almeda Corridor Redevelopment Authority | Houston, TX
Creating unique and local open spaces that promote active living, healthy eating, and a cohesive community. The Park at Palm Center is located in the heart of Houstonâ€™s Third Ward, an economically diverse neighborhood that is undergoing a process of regentrification. The Old Spanish Trail/Almeda Corridor Redevelopment Authority partnered with the City of Houston to renovate an abandoned lot into a highly functional urban park. The landscape design is centered around four key themes: eat, play, gather, and connect and features an edible orchard, a community garden with an outdoor demonstration kitchen, a playground, a performance area and an entry sequence with access to the Light Rail system.
Outdoor Demonstration Kitchen
GENE GREEN REGIONAL PARK Harris County | Houston, TX
The 230-acre Gene Green Beltway 8 Regional Park is a collaborative effort by Harris County Engineering, Harris County Precinct Two and the Harris County Flood Control District as a dual-use detention basin and park amenity. The community participated in determining park program elements through a series of public meetings with the design team, a steering committee and public agency staff. The Park’s design incorporates Low Impact Development Techniques in the parking lot with bioswales and meandering streams dissipate stormwater through native vegetation prior to outfall to Carpenter’s Bayou. Additional LID features include wetland preservation and the use of reduced impervious paving.
BMX bike trail, and climbing apparatus. Other park amenities include an outdoor amphitheater, soccer fields, baseball fields, a playground area with splash-pad, and hike and bike trails that tie into the Harris County Regional Trail System. Asakura Robinson provided Conceptual Master Planning and Construction Documents as the Prime Consultant for this unique park which is Harris County’s first park to receive LEED Certification.
The park core incorporates elements per local youth interests including an “Xtreme Park” featuring a skate park, 2006 PNA AWARD Parks & Natural Areas Award, Houston-Galveston Area Council
2008 PROUD PARTNER AWARD Keep Houston Beautiful, Major Bill White
NORTH SERVICE AREA MASTER PLAN Collaborative Park Design Charrette Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board | Minneapolis, MN
The North Service Area Master Plan Collaborative Park Design Charrette represents a unique effort by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board to expand the knowledge base, innovation, and creativity in the planning and design process. Initiated in 2016, The North Service Area Master Plan is a community visioning process that has engaged northern Minneapolis communities in creating a vision for neighborhood parks north of I-394. As part of this effort, Founding Principal, Keiji Asakura, was selected to participate in the week-long Collaborative Park Design charrette to work with community members and develop initial concepts for 7 of the 34 park properties located within the North Service Area. The park properties ranged from small green spaces to local neighborhood parks to a larger community park. Using previous input from broad community engagement efforts as a starting point, Keiji worked with members of the community to develop context-based concepts that diversify programming across the park properties, creating a unique identity for each site. One concept included a Bicycle Park envisioned as a destination for young children to learn how to bicycle but also for local youth to practice bicycle tricks! These concepts were then shared with the broader community in a series of public open houses.
Public Engagement & Visioning
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