Hemisfair's Civic Park, the eight acre-plus park that will serve as the signature gateway to the major transformation of the former HemisFair '68, doesn't have an official name yet, but it does have an internationally-recognized designer chosen to bring it to life.
“(Gustafson Guthrie Nichol) GGN is an incredible firm with world-wide prestige," said Rachel Holland, communications coordinator for the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation, the nonprofit tasked with Hemisfair's transformation. "As a native who wants nothing more than to elevate San Antonio, I cannot express how big of a deal this is for the city and our community. Imagining the future of the Civic Park with GGN’s leadership is exhilarating.”
The Seattle-based landscape architecture firm has designed Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago, Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial at Hyde Park in London, Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, Seattle City Hall Plaza, Valencia Parque Central in Spain, the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. (See photo gallery above).
Quite the resume – and San Antonio's Civic Park will soon join that list.
GGN received the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Architecture in 2011. Other awards include ASLA National Awards of Excellence, ASLA and AIA Honor Awards for Design, and Tucker Design Awards.
“We were immediately drawn to the Hemisfair project as a rare opportunity to create one of the world’s great public spaces," GGN founding principal Kathryn Gustafson stated in a press release. "We are excited by the design potential inherent in the cross-cultural influences that define and propel San Antonio - a city with a rich history and a growing urban population.”
Civic Park is Phase 2 of the project after the southwest corner Play Escape, conceptual design for which was approved in November 2013. Designs for Tower Park, Phase 3, will likely begin once the Civic Park has been completed. (See project map below.) San Antonio City Council approved the $2.9 million design contract Thursday and the park is scheduled to be open to the public in 2018 – just in time for San Antonio's Tricentennial and the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 World’s Fair.
Download Hemisfair's Civic Park Programming and Vision Plan here.
“The Hemisfair Civic Park will be the centerpiece of the Decade of Downtown,” said San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.
Indeed, the highly visible and central park is steps away from some of the most highly-trafficked downtown intersections for pedestrians – visitors and locals alike – bringing about the common tagline for the Civic Park, "San Antonio's front porch."
“Hemisfair will be more than a park," said Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar. "It will soon be a park district bursting with energy and excitement, and the Civic Park will be the front porch of San Antonio.”
In addition to GGN and Alamo Architects, other project consultants include Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Vickrey & Associates, CNG Engineering, Ximenes & Associates, Jaster-Quintanilla, Tillett Lighting Design, Drew Collaborative Works, Toole Design Group, CMS Collaborative, Theatre Projects Consultants, and ETM Consultants.