28 thoughts on “BYOBroadway: An Open Competition to Design a Great Street

  1. So let me see if I got this right.
    More than $500,000 was raised from the private sector and cultural stakeholders along Broadway to hire MIG, a CA-headquartered national design/planning firm, to undertake preliminary planning for the transformation of Broadway.
    Then, using MIG’s philosophy of ‘social, political and economic inclusion’ several local entities (Centro SA, Rivard Report, Overland Partners, Pearl) a $20,000 “Build Your Own Broadway” open design competition was launched. It touts that the creative community has the opportunity to receive one of seven awards in the amounts of $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000 when they present their speculative creative ideas and work produced for free (unless of course you win an award), all under the premise of engaging the creative community. Sadly, in recent years we have seen dollars being awarded to firms from California to Nebraska to New York. And now under the premise of inclusivity, these firms will tap into our local creativity and our insights. For nominal prize money our creative community will give away our intimate knowledge, insights and creative ideation. From our city’s tourism marketing to the design of our river barges to the reimagining of downtown and a critical corridor, significant dollars are exported in support of creative economies in other cities. San Antonio’s creative economy and creative class cannot grow and prosper under this model.

    • Furthermore, a study was done by a group out of California, with my own nephew doing the economic report and input from lots of people’s committees and all was trashed. That study would be worth looking at first for the good ideas. Also only the political receive commissions in this city. Yes we do have one office that gets work deservedly, but there are many other talented people in the arts overlooked because they have no political connections on purpose.

    • Gisela

      We are not asking established firms to submit well-formed proposals complete with full documentation. Like the recent Stinson Control Tower competition with its $15,000 prize, we are hoping to spark creatives throughout our city to offer up ideas that address Broadway’s challenges and its opportunities. This is not MIG looking to to capitalize on local talent. The firm wasn’t even part of the planning process until we began coordinating the March 30 program. The Stinson competition attracted individual designers from firms who submitted work done on their own. It would be great if someone did submit an idea formally embraced and adopted as part of the final project. In such an instance, we certainly would do whatever we could to ensure an equitable outcome for the designer. If the alternative is to do nothing to engage the local community, I’d rather do the competition and manage any related complexity. –RR

  2. Bob–

    The most encouraging thing I read was “underground utilities.” The overhead utilities have become the most dominant “visual pollution” in our community.

    Rather than spending 1% for the arts (which I support), I’d instead spend 1% removing ugliness. Our skies are beautiful. Our trees are beautiful. Our buildings are beautiful. All of them are visually destroyed by our proliferation of utility poles.

    I have been to trade shows standing next to City representatives where we looked at prefabbed sidewalks, designed to serve as “conduits” for utilities, with the surface made of reinforced, ground-up tires!

    The best way to beautify San Antonio is to remove ugliness. Doing that, while creating a new, local manufacturing base (prefabbed sidewalks with recycled tire surfaces), would make our city more beautiful and economically healthy.

    George Block

  3. I agree with George Block. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a city with so many utility poles and wires along main streets as opposed to underground or one block back in alleys. Would be much nicer looking without them.

  4. Someone please submit a dog park design for the underpass division (like Bark Park Central in Dallas)! It’s already shaded…otherwise useless…green space…already divided up for big dogs/small dogs…convenient to apartment and high density single family home dwellers near downtown. Maverick Park is great…but it could be used for a myriad of other things.
    Google ‘Bark Park Central Dallas.’ It’s a very popular city park…and a gem for downtown residents.

    • Laura–you are SO right. I’ve been thinking the same thing since I moved here!! That green area under the overpass is a GEM and would be an amazing dog park. Have you been to Mutt’s in Dallas? It would be cool to have something like that, too.

  5. Broadway is already very congested with traffic, especially at rush hours. Truncating the 6 lanes down to 4 will make this unbreakable, especially with bus lanes and bicycles we have to drive behind slowing things down further. Trucks parking to make deliveries to all these existing, new and thriving businesses that don’t have a back or side entrance will make things even more exasperating. Focusing on fuel efficient vehicles, rideshares, Uber, Lyft, more would be helpful but losing lanes won’t be welcome. And we know once its done it won’t be undone. And if it is done what would then be the central corridor from the north through downtown? Broadway has been known as that for 100 years or more and has the cache as Broadway does in any other city that has a street of the same name as its central artery, not a walk/bike park or a choked thoroughfare. The Pearl is already this type location and transition to the newly updated riverwalk north. Not the other issue of using local talent, by all means. We ship far too many city/civic dollars to other cities and past the local talent. No wonder we’re known as an economically challenged city and not a serious creative talent pool. Both hose things can be turned around. Let’s try that for a change.

    • I so agree. This idea to reduce the number of lanes to an already busy street makes me think of the very bad decisions that were made for 281 in the Stone Oak area, you can’t undo that. You only had to have driven on Broadway while they were working on Hildebrand to understand how vital this is as a central corridor. There are bike lines running parallel to Broadway on New Braunfels and Avenue B that should be better utilized, and probably improved, rather than reduce lanes for already congested traffic.

  6. It may be useful for competition entrants if some CAD or GIS files were available. Is there a possibility of providing this? If not then perhaps an out-to-out dimensions of the road at each of these design locations so sidewalk/bike width lanes may be designed around. Thanks.

    • I think this is a wonderful opportunity for community engagement. No matter who you are or where do you come from. You have the right to design something that improves the city, people quality of life and well being.
      Federico: The city of SA has GIS files on its website.
      Mike: You probably enjoy visiting other cities where people don’t need a car and enjoy walking and riding green-public-transportation. We should be open to change, to better change.

  7. Agree with concern about width of Broadway. Another consideration–designers need to be mindful of the width needed for the Fiesta parades. I’m thinking that designers who didn’t grow up here don’t “get” Fiesta and all that it means to our community. What ever you think about Fiesta, it is a huge economic engine for SA (millions $ every year) and is truly an event for ALL San Antonians. So the street must be wide enough for floats and parade seating. I know, parades only happen once a year, but ask most long-time San Antonians what event highlights their year and for many families, it is Fiesta and especially the parades (and the Easter camping at Brack but that’s a story for another day.) About 500,000 attend the parades each year, a huge chunk of citizenry that needs to be considered. So let’s keep the design San Antonio-centric and always keep Fiesta in mind for both financial reasons and to maintain our “puro San Antonio” experience.

  8. Love the idea of buried utilities. Love the idea of better sidewalks. Love the idea of reduced sign clutter. Noticed that this plan denies the reality of Broadway actually serving a need as a commuter route. Broadway during rush hour shows just how many large businesses are served by the street. The desire to make this a lovely destination place that can be biked to makes me wonder who the target audience is. Without a decent sized public parking garage the audience is small and limited to those who are currently within bike distance of the area. Namely citizens who can afford to live in Alamo Heights or the Pearl area. As for buses running on time, Broadway gets regular bus service in this area by 4 different routes. Getting bus service to other parts of the city to Broadway should be a higher priority than making this street less usable by those who work and live off Broadway. But a cool underpass art installation like Commerce street has, I’m all for it!

  9. Can someone make sure this plan includes making the lights near the Pearl area and Josephine safer? I’ve lived here less than a year, and I’ve seen more wrecks on that stretch than anywhere else in my life. I just saw a hit and run where the driver at fault got out of his car and ran off on foot. Those lights are antiquated and not equipped for the amount of traffic now on that stretch and it’s frightening.

  10. An arboretum for the underpass would be great. It should be the opposite of the overpass (concrete, noisy, polluted). It should be filled with trees, plants, flowers, bicycles, dogs and children.

    Turn a gray space into a green space!

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