Texas Architect January/February 2014: Ecologies
This issue on “Ecologies” explores urban design across Texas and focuses on the increasing importance of green infrastructure for our cities. With the rehabilitation of the San Antonio River, the state now has the longest linear park in the nation. Dallas is also leading urban design trends with its progressive parks plan — Klyde Warren Park is just one example of the good work being done. Houston and Austin are also both relying on green infrastructure to create valuable public spaces. Other important urban design initiatives featured include mixed-use development in downtown Austin, El Paso’s first net-zero senior housing project, and the push for San Antonio’s missions to be added to the World Heritage List.
Mission Reach by Tracy Idell Hamilton O n a bright morning last October, more than 50 years after the San Antonio River south of downtown was turned into a flood control ditch, hundreds of residents turned out to celebrate the completion of what is now the nation’s largest urban river restoration and linear park. Dog walkers, runners, kayakers, neighbors, and families joined dozens of elected and agency officials along the banks of the river park, which, at three times the acreage of Central Park in New York, now boasts hike and bike trails winding through native grasses and among young trees, pavilions of indigenous sandstone, and portals that reconnect the river to its surrounding neighborhoods and to San Antonio’s historic Spanish missions. The eight-mile stretch of the Mission Reach, as the park is known, is part of the larger San Antonio River Improvements Project, a $358 million, decades-in-the-making collaboration to turn the long-neglected river north and south of downtown’s famed River Walk into a walkable, bikable urban park. In addition to luring locals and tourists alike to its newly hospitable banks, the revitalized river has spurred a renaissance of urban develop- PHOTO COURTESY THE SAN ANTONIO RIVER FOUNDATION. The 1.3-mile stretch of new walkways, landscaping, parks, and public art includes a lock and dam for barge access and links a number of historic, commercial, and cultural institutions back to the river. ment, most notably thus far along the northern Museum Reach, designed by Ford, Powell & Carson and completed in 2009, which extends architect Robert H.H. Hugman’s original River Walk, built in the 1930s, up through Brackenridge Park. That 1.3-mile stretch of new walkways, landscaping, parks, and public art includes a lock and dam for barge access and links a number of historic, commercial, and cultural institutions back to the river, including the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Pearl, the former brewery that’s 1/2 2014 Texas Architect 43