120 Coxe Avenue, Sawyer Annex

Asheville, NC


Coxe Avenue is currently in the midst of a developmental renaissance. In the early 20th century Coxe Avenue was a center of retail and commerce. There were automobile dealerships and large-scale retail establishments. Many of the building along this corridor were multi story brick buildings with the art-deco styling. In the latter part of the twentieth century, most of the original occupants of these buildings moved out of downtown and left this corridor underutilized and in disrepair. Many buildings were torn down and replaced by smaller less urban buildings or simply vacant lots.

Luckily for Asheville residents, one of the most significant buildings along Coxe Avenue, the Sawyer Motor Company Building, one of the original Coxe Avenue Automobile dealerships, remained in tact and in-use. In 2002 & 2003 this building was renovated, within the historic preservation guidelines, to it’s current use as residential condominiums on the upper floors and a business use on the street level.

The same owners of the Sawyer building, with a vision to restore the historic urban fabric of the Coxe Avenue corridor embarked on another project, just south of the Sawyer Motor Company Building. The Sawyer Annex building fronts Coxe Avenue with a minimal setback to help restore the urban context. The 17,000 s.f., three-story brick and pre-cast concrete building has a massing and architectural articulation consistent with the surrounding historic structures and art-deco styling. While distinctly modern, the Sawyer Annex blends seamlessly with the historic fabric of Coxe Avenue.

Arc Deco architecture is often identified by its blending of art and architecture and a “modernization” of classic artistic themes. The pilaster cap at the Sawyer Annex is a stylized, three-tiered leaf element. The structural column bays are articulated on the exterior with a brick pilaster and decorative contrasting stripe and extend up beyond the basic parapet height. The main entry is highlighted with multi layered pre-cast concrete as well as porcelain tile highlights. The large vertical sign band, typical of art deco styling, is also delineated with stepped planes of pre-cast concrete. Clear glass blocks are incorporated into the exterior finish at the stair towers to bring in natural light. The collective material palette and relatively high level of exterior detail are all reminiscent of art deco themes while remaining true to the actual time of construction.

ARCHITECT: Fisher Architects




(828) 808-6609


Asheville, NC