Texas Architect March/April 2006: Preservation
Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other editorial content largely written by AIA members in Texas. That collective participation was the basis of Texas Architect’s recognition by the national AIA with a 2010 Institute Honor for Collaborative Achievement.
texas architect 28 3/4 2006 by STEPHEN SHARPE Ascendant Again The old Tobin Aerial Surveys headquarters, a conspicuous San Antonio landmark since the 1920s, presents a distinctive profile to the industrial district just south of the downtown. With a concrete water tower standing atop its flat roof and vertical ribbons of red brick accentuating its six-story rise above ground level, the building can be seen for miles. Linda Pace, a well-known art collector and the founder of the ArtPace foundation that supports contemporary art, saw the building and envisioned its future as a residential complex infused with communal gallery spaces and outdoor sculpture gardens. So in 2000, she formed Camp Street Partners and bought the vacant building, and later hired Poteet Architects to rehabilitate the concrete-frame structure. The design by Jim Poteet, AIA, divided the 88,000-square-foot building into 20 large lofts, including a two-level penthouse with access to a private roof-top pool and terrace. Substantial alterations were required to attract potential occupants, not the least of which involved punching out openings for 88 additional windows. Custom-fabricated in steel, the new windows closely match the originals. Poteet also designed new steel balconies and sun shades to resemble the existing fire escapes. The improvements are meant to respect the building’s original fabric, he says, adding that the difficulty of providing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing infrastructure to each of the 20 units in an architecturally satisfactory way cannot be underestimated. “I call it the art of subtraction,” Poteet says. “The casual observer will never know how much of this infrastructure is hidden. You see just a small part of it, and when you do, it’s been crafted, composed.” The building was designed in 1926 by the San Antonio office of herff & Jones Architects for the G.A. Duerler Manufacturing Company. Duerler made candy, and he had grand plans for his operation. As illustrated in a lithograph (see p. 30) from the 1920s, Duerler’s scheme included several other buildings that never materialized. In fact, only the main building and an adjacent boiler house and project Camp Street Residences client Camp Street Partners, LP architect Poteet Architects contractor Metropolitan Contracting, Inc. consultants Beicker Engineering (structural); HMG & Associates (MEP); Kings Creek Landscaping (landscaping); Lighting Consultants LLC (lighting) design team Jim Poteet, AIA; Brett C. Freeman photographer Paul Bardagjy