San Pedro Creek Forum Airs Design Concerns

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San Antonio River Authority Project Manager Kerry Averyt chimes in at the San Pedro Creek Improvement Project Design Meeting.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

San Antonio River Authority Project Manager Kerry Averyt chimes in at the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project Design Meeting.

San Antonians wanting to review and comment on the latest design concepts proposed for the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project gathered inside the boardroom of the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) Friday for a public input forum.

The goal of the forum was to collect feedback on the design concepts recently approved by Bexar County Commissioners. Commissioners have yet to approve construction of the proposals, pending a final review of the expected costs of implementation.

“We would like to use the comments that were shared here today to help in the prioritization of these elements put forward as a part of this approved design by the Commissioners Court,” SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott told the Rivard Report after the forum. “The County is wanting to see, of all these various elements, what the community feels are the most important to the community.”

(From left) San Pedro Creek Sub-Committee Co-Chair Jerry Geyer and SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott address the audience at the San Pedro Creek Improvement Project Design Meeting.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) San Pedro Creek Sub-Committee Co-Chair Jerry Geyer and SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott address the audience at the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project Design Meeting.

Presentations by Steve Tillotson from Muñoz & Company, the project’s lead architectural development firm, and Carrie Brown, the San Antonio River Authority Art Curator, showcased the approved designs that will stretch along the creek from Houston to Cesar Chavez streets. They detailed how the proposed design elements sought to communicate the 300-year history of San Antonio from the vantage point of San Pedro Creek, and the various cultures and civilizations that utilized it.

Participants were provided with comment cards asking them to list their three favorite design and public art elements. An additional section gave space for comments to be added.

Following the presentations, Scott moderated an open discussion where attendees were encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback on the renderings. Out of roughly 25 questions asked and comments offered, a few recurrent themes emerged.

“I think there was a broad representation of stakeholder groups, but primarily business owners, the art community, historical groups, preservation groups were all here today,” Scott said. “Several people indicated that they felt maybe there was too many design elements.”

Penelope Speier, a public artist in San Antonio, told the Rivard Report that, in her view, there were too many different elements “fighting with one another.” Her statement echoed similar concerns asserting that the number of propositions were “visually noisy” and “overwhelming.”

“I wanted to contribute to the editing process,” Speier said, “because I feel like people are well intentioned, but it needs a lot of editing.”

Another concern was that the pursuit to communicate the history of San Pedro Creek lacked continuity.

“The continuity came up a couple of times,” Scott said. “That there [should be] more of a ribbon of continuity through the design.”

Unlike other successful linear parks, notably the High Line in New York City, the designers could do more to smoothly tie the varying narratives together, participants said. One of the suggestions provided to remedy the issue was to leave certain spaces open for future development.

HDR Senior Structural Engineer Jeffrey Mitchell and Muñoz and Company FAIA Steve Tillotson chat in the audience at the San Pedro Creek Improvement Project Design Meeting.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

HDR Senior Structural Engineer Jeffrey Mitchell (left) and Muñoz and Company Principal Steve Tillotson, FAIA, (right) chat in the audience at the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project Design Meeting.

“Maybe having some of the elements [could] be more temporary versus permanent,” Scott said.

Other individuals asked about the possibility of having rotating art, or allowing for more space where temporary sculptures or short performance pieces could be hosted.

Others asked, and stated, that the linear park should not just simply comply to standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but be ADA friendly. They requested that the developers visit other reportedly ADA friendly sites in the city to see how they had made handicapped San Antonians feel welcome.

Safety was another issue. One man asked what considerations had been given to the fortification of bridges and walkways. Centro San Antonio CEO Pat DiGiovanni suggested that the developers go beyond complying with Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) standards by reviewing their designs with an independent safety consultant.

Various other comments and questions surrounded topics such as the impact of nighttime projections on wildlife, restroom options, connections to commerce, the depiction and representation of women, and cultural representation.

The comments and questions will be collected and reviewed by the County Commissioners before they give their final approval over implementation, according to the Co-Chair of the project’s Citizens Oversight Committee Jerry Geyer. Still, he wishes that this sort of session could have occurred before the designs were sent to the Commissioners for conceptual approval.

SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott welcomes the audience at the San Pedro Creek Improvement Project Design Meeting.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott welcomes the audience at the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project Design Meeting.

The final Commissioners Court approval will be given in the coming weeks. Construction on the second segment of the first phase is predicted to begin in 2018. Completion is predicted for the summer of 2019.

8 thoughts on “San Pedro Creek Forum Airs Design Concerns

  1. From the pictures the amphitheater is functionally useless. Seriously, why would 1oo people gather to sit there? There is no stage from what I can see. Maybe a crowd will gather to watch those two people walk their dog. And could you give the people some shade for the love of God.

    • Agreed shade needs to be a priority! Also – the amphitheater stage at the Arneson on the SA River, where the stage is on the other side of the river, creates a strange separation between the performer and audience. It’s far from ideal, and SA doesn’t need to repeat this. This amphitheater should be redesigned more thoughtfully.

    • It’s across from the Alemeda Theatre. There is a stage across from the Amphitheatre, It’s just not shown in the used rendering. See phase 1 in the very first link provided above in the very 1st paragraph. (About / Design / Phase 1)

  2. It’s a definite improvement from the earlier Muñoz renderings that (predictably) looked like Liberace shat glitter all over it.

    But as mentioned above, the amphitheater could use an actual stage, as well as some shade.

  3. This concept certainly doesn’t reflect San Antonio, it has no community connection.This design looks outdated and it appears as if a space ship is going to land at any minute … maybe that’s what the public is waiting for “a universal encounter”. It also has the appearance of being some kind of alter. Where is the beauty of nature and the natural flow of water, I hope this isn’t our future San Antonio!

  4. One of the drawings shows pedestrians strolling. On any given day I would imagine some quietly sit and maybe watch the ducks go by or just sit. In silence. Inner city oasis if you will. Only thing is shade is missing. Water fountain? Maybe show the Alameda in background or the new Frost Bank coming up. Otherwise I find it appealing.

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