Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2006: Place Making
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.
Down By The River by mark T. wellen, aia project client San Angelo Visitor Center, San Angelo San Angelo Health Foundation; San Angelo Chamber of Com- merce; City of San Angelo; Texas Department of Transportation architects Chakos Zentner Marcum Architects; Craig Kinney Architects contractor consultants Templeton Construction McClanahan and Associates (structural); Power Sys- tems Inc. (MEP); Schrickel Rollins & Associates (landscape) photographer 36 t e x a s Hester + Hardaway a r c h i t e c t San Angelo is one of the best-kept secrets of Texas. While it clearly benefits from the bucolic beauty of its location at the northern-most limits of the Hill Country, San Angelo has neither an interstate highway nor a large commercial airport and one can’t help but feel the isolation of its setting in the remote environs of West Texas. Still, some of its architecture is exemplary, including Trost & Trost’s City Hall (1928), Caudill Rowlett and Scott’s Central High School (1955), Ford Powell and Carson’s Central National (1969), and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer’s San Angelo Museum of Art (1999). The downtown core is largely intact but suffers from underutilization; the restored Fort Concho (1867-69), and the Concho River Valley environs all contribute to a small city ripe with potential. Amid this distinguished urban fabric and scenic natural setting, San Angelo-based Chakos Zentner Marcum Architects with Craig Kinney Architects as chief designer, were asked to develop a new facility to house the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, the offices of the San Angelo Health Foundation, and, most significantly, a new San Angelo Visitor Center. The project’s conception began in the early 1990s with the formation of a task force representing the City of San Angelo, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the Health Foundation. The Chamber’s offices had been originally located as an adjunct to the San Angelo Convention Center, with the Visitor Center occupying little more than a corner of the reception area in the overcrowded suite of offices. Furthermore, the facility was located in an area of the city so isolated from activity and major thoroughfares that even the most intrepid of seasoned travelers would be challenged to seek it out. Concurrently, the nonprofit Health Foundation was considering a new home that would make an impact, visually announcing its role in the community. The three entities eventually joined forces. Subsequently, the Texas Department of Transportation was invited to join the endeavor, and TxDOT’s significant financial contribution to the project made a grander architectural vision possible. The disparate group brought with it some daunting design challenges for the architects. While the overarching concept was simple – stakeholders asked for a “landmark building” or “a building that says ‘San Angelo’” – the desires of a highly involved yet diversely opinionated collection of community leaders represented the greatest challenge. 1 1 / 1 2 2 0 0 6