Search results for "san antonio"

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Gulf Green

At interdisciplinary conference, Houston highlights its new relationship to the natural landscape

Houston’s green renaissance set the stage for a recent conference of landscape architects, designers, planners, institutional leaders, and policy makers who convened at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston on March 11.

Hosted by Washington, D.C.–based non-profit The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), Leading with Landscape II: The Houston Transformation focused on how landscape architecture is changing the city at a scale not seen in the U.S. in a century.

Charles Birnbaum, founder and executive director of TCLF, posited Houston’s built heritage in three sections: The linear hardscape and engineering of freeways, the iconic architectural monuments connected by said infrastructure, and today’s emerging landscape architecture that is stitching together the natural and built environments.

“The story of zoning and planning in Houston is a fascinating study, one that lies at the very center of the conference and tours. It is a story characterized by political wrangling, economic boom and bust cycles, hurricane and flooding, the influence of the automobile in infrastructure and housing development, public-private partnerships, and the presence of the many bayous that traverse the city,” Birnbaum wrote in the conference guide. “Houston provokes the question, ‘Can a city that has developed largely without a plan also be one that is leading with landscape?’”

Conference discussions looked ahead to the ambitious new plans for Bayou Greenways, Memorial Park, the Menil’s Campus, and the Houston Botanic Garden, while examining the successes of Discovery Green and Hermann Park. Issues of street-level design for pedestrian experiences, equity, inclusion, and funding were also brought to the forefront to improve upon the city’s connectivity and accessibility.

The daylong panel discussions included the voices of leading landscape architecture firms and various institutions: SWA, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, West 8, Hargreaves Associates, the Office of James Burnett, Reed Hilderbrand, Design Workshop, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Asakura Robinson, Clark Condon, the Hermann Park Conservancy, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, the Houston Chronicle, the Kinder Foundation, Chilton Capital Management, Clean Line Energy, the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Rice University, the University of Houston, and the Anchorage Foundation of Texas. San Antonio mayor Ivy Taylor and former Houston mayor Annise Parker also spoke during the final session titled, “An Appraisal.”

Taylor, an urban planner originally from Queens, spoke about parks as potential anchors for neighborhoods, including San Antonio’s redevelopment of the Riverwalk, Pearl Brewery, and drainage improvements, as well as matters of park equity. She cited having grown up near Central Park in New York, “the granddaddy of them all.”

“As a little girl, I didn’t go to those parks. We had a square patch of grass. How do we reach out to folks to experience the natural environment?” Taylor asked. Her presentation led to the question: How are we to be stewards for the next generation?

The foundation also hosted expert-led free tours March 12–13 at more than 30 iconic sites that demonstrate Houston’s legacy of green and public spaces, including Buffalo Bayou Park, Sesquicentennial Park, the Menil’s Campus, Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, Sabine Promenade, and Discovery Green.

“This is my city. I love this city,” Parker said. “This is a city of big ideas and we tackle big things in big ways.” She continued to discuss the importance of the Port of Houston, the Astrodome, “Houston” as the first word on the moon, and issues including infrastructure, parks, preservation, and public art. She also elaborated on the Bayou Greenways Initiative and how it touches every community in Houston by creating an interconnected green web. As great cities attract intellectual capital, it also needs amenities and attractions for its citizens.

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North of South

A new book surveys little-known modern Mexican architecture

Edward R. Burian, an architect and professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, has produced an informative survey on a subject not well known to a general audience. Although northern Mexico is a large, well-populated region, to many Americans it still conjures images of a largely empty, dusty land of vaqueros or the setting for Pancho Villa’s daring exploits. Its situation as a place of contemporary cultural production in the Mexican national imagination is even more limited. There, cultural discourse is dominated by the capital, Mexico City, in a manner much more profound than equivalent United States centers like New York and Los Angeles. Architecture of this region, which spans the states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango, Sonora, Sinaloa, and Baja California Norte and Sur has been almost completely excluded from systematic study in its own country. The continued neglect makes this book, the first written in English or Spanish on the subject, valuable as a groundbreaking effort to draw attention to a historically under-recognized region.

The book is organized state by state, starting in Tamaulipas on the Gulf Coast and ending with Baja California Norte and Sur. Each chapter begins with a brief overview of each state’s geography and history and then proceeds, city by city, to describe significant works of architecture and urban design. These descriptions are short in the manner of an architectural guide. About a third of the buildings are illustrated with a mixture of new and historic photographs. There are some extremely detailed maps of the central portions of the larger cities, but no architectural floor plans are included.

There is a great variation of geography and climate across the region. The easternmost section is flat and humid, with abundant rainfall and semitropical vegetation. As one progresses west, the land becomes hillier and more arid with isolated oasis-like microclimates. Toward the Pacific Coast, vegetation is again lush (a word the author likes to repeat), while just across the Gulf of California, the Baja California Peninsula is desert. However, despite these climatic variations, nearly all the buildings included in the book are made of brick, concrete, or stone and as the author frequently writes, have “wall-dominant” exterior elevations. Climatic adaptation seems to be accommodated by porches, changes in wall thickness, and fenestration patterns. (Here, plans would have helped to show more specifically how buildings physically varied from region to region.)

Monterrey, the major city of Nuevo León and Mexico’s third largest, seems to have the most vibrant contemporary architectural culture of all the cities in the book. Founded in 1596, it became a major city after World War II when its industrial capacity dramatically increased. Some outstanding early projects include Enrique de la Mora y Palomar’s parabolic-vaulted Iglesia La Purísima (1940–1946), one of the first modern churches in the country, and his 1942 master plan for the newly-created Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Monterrey “Tech”). This plan, as well as many of the early buildings, recalls those of the better-known Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City that were inaugurated about 10 years later.

Monterrey architect Rodolfo Barragán Schwarz, who studied under Paul Rudolph at Yale in the early 1960s, is a notable figure. His postwar modern designs fused American and Mexican sensibilities in unusual and compelling ways. In the past two decades, local architects including Cecilia Rangel and James Mayeux, Agustín Landa Vértiz, Alexandre Lenoir, and Gilberto Rodríguez, have produced work that holds its own against that of the many Mexico City and foreign architects also designing projects in Monterrey.

As a pioneering work, however, the book is rough around the edges. Its format is halfway between a traditional architectural guide and a textbook. Although the buildings’ names are highlighted in bold text, their addresses are not given, and only a small handful are marked on the infrequent city maps, making them difficult for visitors to locate. Also, the book, which measures approximately 9-by-12-inches, is awkwardly sized for a traveler to carry conveniently. Finally, the maps of the states showing the locations of the cities appear to be cropped from a larger map and are all but useless for navigation. A model the author and publishers might have consulted is the outstanding Buildings of the United States series, which covers an equally wide-ranging area and is very rigorously organized.

However, these complaints become quibbles when considering the massive amount of work and dedication that the author almost single-handedly expended to gather the information for this book. He should be commended for setting up—in a very deliberate and conscious way—a larger discussion about the architecture and culture of our southern neighbor.

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The Age of Urban Tech

AN reports from New Cities Summit in Montreal, an international conference on new technology that shapes cities
Today in Montréal, 600 designers, architects, geographers, technology experts, entrepreneurs, and policymakers convened for the New Cities Summit, a forward-looking conference hosted by the New Cities Foundation. The Summit tries, through the lens of technology, to put a finer point "innovation," "urban change," and "economic growth," often-nebulous concepts that nevertheless drive the design and governance of our cities. Speakers, panels, round-tables, and workshops focus on using new technology to engage visitors in "thirdspaces" (where people neither work nor live), boosting the sharing economy through new (and old) means of engagement, finding solutions to a global affordable housing crisis, placemaking, and public art are held over a two-day period, followed by site visits around Montréal. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) attended the summit when it was held in Dallas, in 2014, but this is the first time AN is attending the event internationally. Follow @archpaper in Montréal for live updates on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat (archpaper). The opening panel, "The Age of Urban Tech," moderated by Estelle Métayer, founder and principal of Competia, featured four city leaders in the private and public sectors: Chiara Corazza, managing director of the Greater Paris Investment Agency; Anil Menon, president of Smart and Connected Cities and the deputy chief globalization officer at Cisco (a conference sponsor); Alexandre Taillefer, managing partner of XPND Capital and the founder of Téo Taxi; and Ivy Taylor, the mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Métayer opened with a broad question on the role of technology in the 21st century city, and panelists, despite their mostly tech-centric backgrounds, were keen on both the appeal of (and limits to) apps and hacks. At each fork in the discussion, the panelists turned back to the importance of using technology to enhance existing communities. "The best and worst thing is that people are focused on technology. [The] focus should be on urban experience, not on the technology. Technology should be invisible and should maintain and enhance the quality of life," Menon noted. Speaking of her city, Taylor explained that "people are the heart of cities we serve." San Antonio, population 1.4 million, is seventh largest city in the U.S. and is 60 percent Latino. She emphasized that closing the digital divide, especially though education and neighborhood engagement, is key to not leaving the most vulnerable residents behind, especially in an an era where cities compete directly with one another for resources and capital. Building on Taylor's observations, Taillerfer underscored the importance of adapting technology to current users with a homegrown example: A taxi company on east side of Montréal receives 90 percent of its calls via an old-fashioned phone. In that district, only twenty percent of residents use smartphones. Education and access can bring users up to speed on smartphones, but the current means of calling the taxi must be consistent with the current knowledge base. Taillefer urged participants to be wary of the role of corporations in shaping public tech projects. "A lot of innovations require a lot of capital, so cities have to be careful about the deals [we] sign with corporations. Tech," she declared, "is fun, but we need to take into account the lives of citizens." Sharing information transparently is key to having that fun and sustaining trust. Taylor noted that when body cameras for police officers were introduced in San Antonio, at first there wasn't enough communication about the new technology. Consequently, public misunderstandings and resentments arose around the cameras. "We're still on front end of conveying public what access to information will be, how quickly information will be processed," said Taylor. For all the conversation around anti-union sentiment in tech, Menon grounded the discussion in the importance of sustaining local entrepreneurs while engaging labor unions. "Unions represent the current middle class who are deeply suspicious of new tech because it's seen as replacing jobs." Public and private-sector unions, he argued, need to establish new ways to work with corporations. He cited Germany as an example of a country that has both strong economic growth and union representation. For all the barriers, there was profound optimism among panelists that cities will look radically different in the next five to ten years because of new technologies. Corazza, Taylor, and Taillerfer highlighted public transit innovations as a key locus of innovation (Taillerfer: "I dream of the day you pay $250 per month for access to multimodal, anti–private car transit for everything) while Menon cited video internet and, surprisingly, liquid biopsy, a form of data collection to detect and treat cancer. Who knew?
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Plaza Saga

SWA remakes a historic plaza in downtown El Paso to appeal to Millennials

From the 1880s to the late 1960s, El Paso’s San Jacinto Plaza was the place to see alligators at alarmingly close proximity. Crowds would sit around the fountain in the middle of the park to watch the sad spectacle of captive reptiles circling their enclosure. When the city asked landscape architecture firm SWA to redo the plaza seven years ago, the firm’s Los Angeles office had the tall task of designing a park that would preserve the turn-of-the-century Arcadian layout beloved by residents and draw crowds, just as the alligators once did.

SWA found harmony between programming and design, despite the trend toward “shoehorning” as much programming as possible into outdoor spaces. “The community wanted a concept that respected the formal axes [of the Arcadian layout], so the axes are still there, but now you come to a destination,” explained Gerdo Aquino, CEO of SWA. SWA collaborated with San Antonio, Texas–based Lake|Flato, which designed a cafe and shade canopy that activate the heart of the roughly two-acre park.

The canopy shelters “Los Lagartos,” Luis Jiménez’s fiberglass alligator statue, an homage to San Jacinto’s one-time residents. SWA encircled the statue with a balustrade and decorative mosaics that radiate out toward a botanical garden, custom chess and ping-pong tables, an outdoor reading room with a lending library, a produce market, and an area for washoes (a game similar to horseshoes but played with washers).

Aquino noted a recent shift in emphasis in park design from beauty and ecology toward beauty, ecology, and programming. According to him, the reason can be distilled to: “One word: Millennials. They ask, ‘Is the landscape a place where I can play? Is it a place where I can meet my friends? Can I FaceTime here?’ It’s all about me. You can’t design a park like you did five years ago.”

Second- and third-tier cities are luring all demographics, not just Millennials, back to the city center with open space projects, Aquino explained. San Jacinto’s landscape plan preserved existing older trees, while pairing native species of oak, agave, and grasses with non-native, but adaptive, plants for pops of color. “If mayors want to make their downtowns more livable,” Aquino said, “they need open space that’s ecological, financially feasible, programmed to the hilt, and also beautiful. You don’t have to live in New York, L.A., San Francisco, or Boston to have access to great design. Great design can be created right where you live.”

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METALAB Wins San Antonio River Barge Competition
Back on April Fools, the City of San Antonio and the local AIA San Antonio chapter announced the winners and runners up for the second phase of their river barge design competition (no joke). Their top pick: Houston-based design firm METALAB’s proposal for a multi-purpose electric barge that could serve both leisure-oriented activities as well as commuters on the San Antonio River. The barge could host dinner events, sightseeing tours, parades, and provide local transportation. Design-wise, much of this will be accomplished through a modular decking system of flexible components that can be adapted for the variety of proposed functions and programs. The design features a single deck for easier wheelchair accessibility. The railings—taking design cues from papel picado (Mexican folk art paper cut out decorations typically displayed during holidays and special events)—lean out to made the barge feel more spacious. In second place: a proposal by San Antonio-based Luna Architecture + Design with Neptune Beach, FL-based Lay Pittman & Associates. And in third: Austin-based Sadi Brewton + Jonathan Davies. There were twelve teams in the initial competition phase, with the top three finalists given $7,500 to expand their design concepts. METALAB's concept could replace the existing aging barge network. “The current river barge design was created for HemisFair ’68 to offer visitors rides up and down the length of the river,” said Roberto C. Treviño, District 1 City Councilman and architect, in a statement. “METALAB’s design is modular, modern, and offers the possibility for barge uses we couldn’t have imagined before. This not only presents a great option for tourists, but is an opportunity for residents and the local entrepreneurial community to propose new and imaginative ways to use the river barges.” The city will present the proposal to City Council this spring, and expects to put out two requests for proposals this May, one for construction, and the other for programming and operations. If the design moves ahead, San Antonio residents and visitors should expect to see a barge prototype on the river by 2017, and the final fleet ready in 2018.
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How Graves, Koolhaas, and Piano would have altered Marcel Breuer's iconic Madison Avenue museum
This month, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is opening the Met Breuer, replacing the Whitney Museum of American Art that called the Brutalist showpiece home for nearly five decades. Last year, the Whitney moved to Renzo Piano's building in the Meatpacking District. The Met is renting the Breuer (now the Met Breuer) on an eight-year lease while David Chipperfield works on a new space for contemporary art. The site of the Met's latest acquisition, however, has a colourful past, fending off near misses from Graves to Koolhaas and Piano.  AN Takes a look at what so nearly could have been.                                 In 1989, the New York Times ran the headline: "The Whitney Paradox: To Add Is To Subtract." Such was Paul Goldberger's distaste for what Michael Graves had originally proposed to lie adjacent to Marcel Breuer's building. Indeed, Graves' Postmodern proposal gave rise to Goldberger questioning: "What value does the Breuer building have, both as a work of architecture unto itself and as a part of the streetscape? And how gingerly, therefore, should it be treated?" Built in 1966, Marcel Breuer's Modernist granite building may be the epitome of abstract architecture, having remained detached for so long, shooing away any potential plunderers of its monumental message. Breuer, a Hungarian and product of Gropius' Bauhaus, went so far as to erect concrete walls to resist interaction with adjacent buildings, keeping them at arm's length.
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TEN Arquitectos' mixed-use downtown Brooklyn building tops out
TEN Arquitectos' 286 Ashland Place, a 384-unit, 32-story mixed-use development in Downtown Brooklyn, has topped out. The building's 45,148 square feet of community space will host 651 ARTS, The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), and the Brooklyn Public Library. The New York– and Mexico City–based firm has a number of major projects in design and under construction. Their campus for Centro, a technology, design, and business university in their home city, opened in September 2015, while plans for the Mexican Museum and residential building at 706 Mission Street in San Francisco are moving forward. Last month, TEN Arquitectos revealed renderings of a luxury resort in the Cayman Islands. At 286 Ashland Place, 20 percent of the units in the building are set aside for affordable housing. The building will host 21,928 square feet of retail. Construction is expected to be complete this summer, YIMBY reports. The project is located within the Brooklyn Cultural District, a Fort Greene development plan anchored by BAM. The triangular lot, across the street from BAM and a block from Atlantic Terminal, fronts high-traffic areas on all sides. On the Flatbush Avenue side, ground-floor retail and a stepped plaza break up what could have been a monotonous street wall. The facade is reminiscent of the firm's Mercedes House, in Midtown West. There too, the facade is broken up by a nonstandard arrangement of windows and built-in air treatment units. Mercedes House's outstanding features are terraced cubes and snaking profile respond to the site's steep elevation. 286 Ashland Place has a more standard site, and relies on an origami-ed facade for visual interest from afar. Though it obscures a previously unobstructed view of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building the articulations of the facade draw the eye outward, towards the surrounding streetscape.
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Ghosts and Galas
Los Angeles #3, 1971.
Anthony Hernandez / Courtesy East of Borneo

Facing the Music: Documenting Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Redevelopment of Downtown Los Angeles
A Project by Allan Sekula
East of Borneo Books, $55

As Los Angeles prepares to welcome yet another big-time architectural gem to Grand Avenue, an uncanny series of events replays itself just as it did twelve years ago, when the Disney Concert Hall was unveiled. Eli Broad’s museum by New York-based architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro opened this fall. Like the formal exuberance of Gehry’s building, the Broad’s deep and distorted pattern of perforations will surely be replicated in imagery that advertises, tantalizes, and provides a backdrop for partying elites, but it will likely fail to communicate a more compelling backstory. Thankfully, Facing the Music: Documenting Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Redevelopment of Downtown Los Angeles is a timely and welcome unraveling of the cursory attitude with which Los Angeles’ built manifestations are often approached.

In 2003, downtown was not sexy. Gentrification was a far-off dream of “inner city” political boosters, but hopes were high for repopulation thanks to a recent relaxation of zoning ordinances that would allow for residential conversions of office buildings. Richard Florida’s book Cities and the Creative Class (Routledge, 2004) was still one year out, and development-friendly Antonio Villaraigosa had not yet become the city’s first modern Latino mayor. Southern California’s real estate market had another four years of bloating before the bubble would pop (locally and across the nation), and Southern California Institute of Architecture was adjusting to its recent move into the Santa Fe Freight Depot building in the arts district—a barren stretch of town where mostly artists lived in cheap lofts.

Artist, filmmaker, and photographer Allan Sekula was at work documenting the construction of the Disney Concert Hall, which would open in late October that year. This work, which he produced collaboratively with four other artists—James Baker, Karin Apollonia Muller, Anthony Hernandez, and Billy Woodberry—would ultimately comprise the group installation titled Facing the Music.

Prayer for the Americans 3 (Disney Stockholders), 1997/2005.
Estate of Allan Sekula/Courtesy East of Borneo
 

A product of working class Los Angeles, and passionate about the political condition of working men and women, Sekula was unflinchingly resistant to, as he said, the “uncritical celebration of the new downtown.” Facing the Music questioned the late-capitalist idea that inner city cores could be improved by building large-scale entertainment and sports venues, retail corridors, and eye-catching buildings that would generate sales revenue and jobs (all mostly low wage). In the early 2000s Los Angeles was hot to follow such national trends with Gehry’s Concert Hall, L.A. Live, Staples Center, and the ambitious yet repeatedly stalled-out Grand Avenue master plan project.

Instead of privileging the spectacle of the Gehry building, Sekula and his collaborators subverted it by stepping into its inner world: its steel, bolts, safety measures, loose wires, and drywall. Simultaneously, Sekula’s camera turned away from the building toward the margins of the site, where the effects of redevelopment shifted or challenged populations and cultures already inhabiting Grand Avenue and beyond: the homeless, the workers, the ghosts of Bunker Hill. By deliberately ignoring the explicit imagery and formalism of Gehry’s architecture, Facing the Music uncovered the latent legibility of the building. The installation was shown, intentionally and provocatively, within the belly of Disney Hall, at the REDCAT gallery in 2005.

The new book is true to the 2005 exhibition, unfurling a further line of connection with additional content that Sekula compiled until his death in 2013. Included are Leonard Nadel’s images of Bunker Hill from the early 20th century (Nadel was a photographer for the Los Angeles Housing Authority from 1949–1952). These images offer glimpses of intimate domestic interiors captioned with notes Nadel took while speaking to residents, like: “substandard, $40 a month,” and “infested, illegal kitchen.” Louis Adamic’s 1930 article from Outlook & Independent magazine provides the quintessential blueprint for a critical analysis of Los Angeles’ cadre of entrepreneurs (Otis, Huntington, Whitley), who, he states, “have small use for poor people.” Those same mini-moguls’ financial lineage would eventually make way for the Music Center and Grand Avenue (by bulldozing Bunker Hill).

Facing the Music is nuanced and paradoxical, not smug or polemical. The work explores the intersectional account of Disney Concert Hall and those who constructed the building, those displaced by it, and those who benefitted most from its development. Sekula and his collaborators’ appreciation for the sweaty orchestration of the building’s construction is celebratory in portraits of the crew’s scribbled hardhats or the careful manner in which tool belts are hung at the end of a shift. The way Sekula presents the miserable faces of Disney Hall’s opening night attendants, in his video Gala, is not so sincere.

Sekula’s leaping connections between, for example, the orange and blue of the Getty’s corporate logo to the color of stolen water nourishing the citrus of the San Fernando Valley may be hyperbolic or even ambivalent, but they expand the investigation and interpretation of both building and site. In a transcript of his lecture “Los Angeles: Graveyard of Documentary,” included in Facing the Music, Sekula writes that “photographs once changed the world, while now they merely initiate and replicate the fashionable surface mutations of a spectacle culture immune to deeper transformation.”

In 2015, as in 2005, spirited investigations that ignore the designer “money shot” are as rare as ever. In a downtown that is increasingly consumed by architectural pomp, Sekula’s means of reading and representing architecture provide a necessary alternative approach.

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A wide array of architects chosen by Walmart owners for Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program
The Walton Family Foundation has chosen a group of 36 design firms comprising architects and landscape architects to be part of their Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program in a bid to boost the standard of architecture in the up and coming area of Northwest Arkansas. A smaller, more refined group of practices from this pool will be chosen by a selection committee at a later date for three pilot projects announced early in September. Those pilot projects are: TheatreSquared in downtown Fayetteville; a 28,000-square-foot adaptive reuse building for the Rogers Historical Museum in downtown Rogers; and a new 35,000-square-foot facility and half-acre playground for the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center (HWCEC) in Bentonville. The announcement wraps up a two-month, country-wide search for designers that will shape the new urban landscape in Northwest Arkansas. “We are extremely pleased with the level of talent exhibited by the architecture and landscape architecture designers chosen for the program’s first year,” said Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program Director Karen Minkel in a press release. “Our extensive review process, led by reputable industry professionals, will give our grantees access to high-caliber design that meets the needs of these public-use buildings and enhances Northwest Arkansas’ urban fabric.”
Anmahian Winton Architects Cambridge, MA
Alta Planning and Design* Davidson, NC
Bing Thom Architects Vancouver, BC
Brian Healy Architects Somerville, MA
Brininstool + Lynch Chicago, IL
David M. Schwarz Architects, Inc. Washington, D.C.
De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop Louisville, KY
Deborah Berke Partners New York, NY
DLAND Studio Architecture and Landscape Architecture* Brooklyn, NY
Duvall Decker Architects Jackson, MS
Ennead Architects New York, NY
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple New Orleans, LA
Grimshaw New York, NY
GWWO, Inc./Architects Baltimore, MD
HBRA Architects Chicago, IL
HGA Architects and Engineers Minneapolis, MN
KieranTimberlake Philadelphia, PA
Lake-Flato San Antonio, TX
Louise Braverman Architect New York, NY
LTL Architects New York, NY
Marlon Blackwell Architects Fayetteville, AR
Martinez + Johnson Architecture Washington, D.C.
Marvel Architects New York, NY
Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Minneapolis, MN
Michael Van Valkenburgh Architects* Brooklyn, NY
Modus Studio Fayetteville, AR
Overland Partners San Antonio, TX
Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects Little Rock, AR
Rice+Lipka Architects New York, NY
Robert A.M. Stern Architects New York, NY
Robert Sharp Architects & Massengale Architecture PLLC Fayetteville, AR | NY, NY
Schwartz/Silver Architects Boston, MA
Spackman Mossop Michaels* New Orleans, LA
Stoss Landscape Urbanism* Boston, MA
Trahan Architects New Orleans, LA
WXY Architecture + Urban Design* New York, NY
  • * denotes a landscape architecture firm.
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Pelli Clarke Pelli designs San Antonio's first new office tower in three decades
In downtown San Antonio, famed New Haven, Connecticut–based firm Pelli Clarke Pelli (PCP) teamed up with local Alamo Architects to design the new Frost Bank Tower headquarters. It will be the first office tower to join the San Antonio skyline in three decades and one of several new PCP buildings in Texas, including Dallas’ McKinney & Olive tower and the Shraman South Asian Museum and Learning Center. Weston Urban and KDC of Dallas selected the firms in part because of its extreme care and attention to detail. When the firm's representatives shared the project with the selection team, they presented an impeccably detailed paper model of downtown San Antonio with a variety of different towers to illustrate a variety of choices for the site. Appropriately, PCP’s project leads, principal Bill Butler and Fred Clarke, are both native Texans who have spent ample time in San Antonio. The new tower is proposed to be 400,000 square feet, have an emphasis on sustainability, and will be integrated with the new design of the San Pedro Creek area, where architect David Adjaye just revealed his own art gallery. PCP's plan will include a new bridge and plaza. Ground breaking is slated to begin fall 2016 and completion in 2018 or '19, loosely coinciding with San Antonio’s 300-year anniversary in 2018.
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David Adjaye reveals his design for a museum at the Linda Pace Foundation in San Antonio
Architect David Adjaye, known for his modern, site-specific buildings including the upcoming Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, was commissioned by artist and philanthropist Linda Pace to design a structure along San Antonio’s San Pedro Creek for her eponymous foundation’s growing contemporary art collection. The new building, called Ruby City, is expected to open in 2018; groundbreaking will commence in 2016. Pace tasked Adjaye with creating a gallery space reminiscent of a building she saw in a dream. “When I visited San Antonio in 2007, and met with Linda, we sketched out ideas and together, we envisioned a building that would resonate with her dream of the Ruby City. Like a city, the design offers an organic, heuristic encounter with the Foundation’s works and my hope is that it will become a place where artists and the wider community can be inspired to realize their own dreams through a meaningful experience with contemporary art,” said Adjaye. Appropriately, Ruby City will be clad in vibrant red precast concrete panels with expansive windows overlooking the park and city. The 14,000-square-foot, two-story building will house three gallery spaces containing 800-odd paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos. “The building is envisioned as a beacon for San Antonio. The impact of the Foundation’s mission is already evidenced in San Antonio’s thriving contemporary art scene and its creative economy,” Linda Pace Foundation’s President, Rick Moore, said in a statement.
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Muñoz & Company Quilt with Glass and Masonry

Envelope inspired by history of Dallas' African-American community.

For the past 20 years, San Antonio–based Muñoz & Company (formerly Kell Muñoz Architects) has focused primarily on what president and CEO Henry Muñoz III calls "the architecture of identity." The bulk of that work, in turn, has been concentrated on the United States–Mexico border, where the architects collaborated with clients in majority-Latino communities.The commission to design Billy Dade Middle School (in a joint venture with KAI Texas) represented a departure from the firm's usual context. "It struck us that this particular campus had such a rich history and location—in the urban core of the city, and an area where the African-American community has been so important, historically," recalled Muñoz. "It was a great opportunity to explore what that means in the 21st century." Working closely with local residents, Muñoz & Company settled on the metaphor of a quilt, announcing the school's commitment to culturally attuned education with a translucent facade in multicolored glass and illuminated brick. Much of the preparation for the project took place outside the studio. "We approached it not just as designers, but in a more scholarly fashion," said Muñoz. The architects researched the school's namesake—educator, parent, and activist Dr. Billy Earl Dade—through interviews with family members and colleagues as well as archival materials found in a local museum. The linchpin of the design, however, fell into place at a dinner event Muñoz attended. There he asked Claudine Brown, assistant secretary for education and access at the Smithsonian Institution, to help him brainstorm a symbol of cultural identity in the African-American community, one that could help inspire young minds. "Immediately, with no hesitation, she said, 'I think you should look at quilts,'" said Muñoz. As the conversation and further research progressed, he learned that quilts have been used to tell stories, as visual signposts for safety, and as subtle acts of resistance—as well as to meet a basic need for warmth. In addition, said Muñoz, "We found superb artistry, [including] quilting collectives that keep the tradition alive."
  • Facade Manufacturer Trulite (curtain walls and glazing), Pac-Clad (metal panel system)
  • Architects Muñoz & Company/KAI Texas LLC
  • Facade Installer Denison Glass & Mirror (curtain walls and glazing), City Masonry (masonry), J&J Roofing (metal), Satterfield & Pontikes Construction (general contractor)
  • Location Dallas, TX
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System multicolored glass curtain walls, masonry with transparent glass inserts, metal panels
  • Products Trulite aluminum curtain wall system, Pac-Clad metal panel system, brick from Blackson Brick Co.
On the school's exterior, the architects expressed the quilt metaphor with multicolored glass walls fronting diagonal bays. Beyond the reference to quilts as cultural artifacts, the pattern projects a belief in the community's resilience. "That glass wall is an important way of expressing how anything can be woven together," said Muñoz. A patchwork rhythm recurs more subtly in the facade's brick walls, where transparent glass elements preserve a sense of openness. "At night, when the glass curtain wall is so transparent—like a lantern—you also get a sense of that in the brick wall," he explained. The entrance canopy, clad primarily in metal, deepens the material diversity of the building envelope, underlining the design's focus on inclusiveness. "You should be able to be yourself as you walk under it," said Muñoz. The quilt theme continues throughout the interior, notably in the tiled floors (inspired by the work of quilting cooperative Gee's Bend), displays of text from Dade's writings, quilts commissioned for the library, and a collection of salvaged doors lining the lobby walls. "Dade was a really strong mentor in an intergenerational fashion," explained Muñoz. We looked at a speech he made about opportunity and thought, 'What if we harvested doors from the neighborhood?' So in the lobby you see this patchwork of doors, meant to be doors of opportunity." Built to meet Dallas Independent School District's stringent environmental standards, Billy Dade "combined [environmental] sustainability with the idea of cultural sustainability," explained Muñoz. Though in keeping with the firm's track record of community-based design, the project was nonetheless a learning opportunity for the architects. "This was the first time that we've [designed] a school that is multicultural in a different way than what we've been used to working with," he said. "While the population was different, I hope people found something that they can see themselves in."
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