Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Savage Love: Working Out the Kinks

Savage Love: Working Out the Kinks

Arts & Culture: My boyfriend of two years cannot climax or maintain an erection unless his testicles are handled, squeezed, pulled, or pressed on... By Dan Savage 8/27/2014
Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology

Astrology: ARIES (March 21-April 19): In the coming weeks it will be important for you to bestow blessings and disseminate gifts and dole out helpful... By Rob Brezsny 8/27/2014
Best Hookah Bar

Best Hookah Bar

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

Screens: See if you can spot the common thread that is pulling at the seams of the Texas film industry. On NBC’s The Night Shift, a stock-written staff... By Matt Stieb 8/27/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

News

Team Better Block takes on Alamo Plaza

Photo: Photos by Steven Gilmore, License: N/A

Photos by Steven Gilmore

Photo: , License: N/A

Team Better Block volunteers hard at work during last Friday's pre-build event.


Little more than two years since their precarious start, the team has now staged 33 Better Blocks in Dallas, Fort Worth, Memphis, Wichita, and other cities. Two weeks ago, TBB co-founder Roberts received a Champions of Change Award at the White House from the Secretary of Transportation; next week the Team will present at the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale as part of Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good. It's been a fast ride for Howard and Roberts, quite a contrast in pace from Howard's previous career as a transportation planner. "Streets are our biggest asset in this country — they're bigger than parks. That's where we live. That was my whole frustration as a transportation planner for 15 years before this. I worked on the regional scale and talked about 25-year build outs, corridors. And it never went anywhere." Now focusing on single blocks, it is community members and private investment — small business owners — who Howard says, "get it first." After seeing Better Block proposals as functioning, albeit temporary businesses, empty buildings are soon rented, and pop-up businesses run for a weekend are reborn as attempts at permanent endeavors. Though TBB consults with municipalities, public sector funding usually follows, rather than leads, private investment.

Though there is disagreement on what should happen to Alamo Plaza, that changes should be made is a view widely held. With $1.2 million in bond money for as-yet-unstated improvements, Center City Development Office brought in another place-making organization to study the matter. Project for Public Spaces (PPS) director Phil Myrick met with City Council last March 7, when a number of "criteria for creating great civic spaces" were stated. PPS was brought in by the Development Office to study possibilities for an improved Alamo Plaza. PPS has been an authority in urban development for 35 years, stressing a "lighter, faster, cheaper" approach to civic change. Concerns were voiced for better attractions and amenities coupled with an image that expresses identity. One of the problems discussed was the orientation of the plaza. Currently, visitors get their impression of the plaza from the front of the church, where they take their pictures and then often wander off after a few minutes looking for something to do — and visit Ripley's across the street, perhaps. There is a lack of seating, tables, and shade in the plaza; the plaza, noted Myrick, "functions as a major street with two sidewalks." Among recommendations made were marking the original mission perimeter and establishing a sense of the height of the missing walls. Enhancements to the plaza might also be accomplished by moving the massive cenotaph that dominates the plaza island and bringing in dining, music, and performances. But these are just suggestions — what will happen is up in the air for now.

To reorient the visitor's experience of the plaza, the original south-facing front gate, along with a section of the old mission walls, will be mocked up this weekend as a "ghost structure," an armature that delineates what is thought to be the shape of the missing structure in full height and width. In addition, a new mobile walking tour of the plaza, complete with images, will be rolled out. Downloaded on cell phones through a QR app, the tour will help the visitor imagine Mission San Antonio de Valero from its founding in 1724, through the battle of 1836 and beyond. Expressing the divergent concerns for telling the entire history of the plaza from the founding of the mission, or concentrating instead on the iconic Battle of the Alamo, spokespersons representing various points of view will participate in the weekend programming.

Recently in News
  • Texas Law Leaves Abortion Out of Reach for Many Women Texas’ sweeping abortion law has already eliminated all abortion clinics south of San Antonio, and the last clinic west of the city... | 8/27/2014
  • Cityscrapes: A race to the convention floor “Conventions go to the city which exerts the greatest efforts to secure them. San Antonio can get any convention that it goes after.” That was the position... | 8/27/2014
  • Mayoral Horserace Once elected next spring, San Antonio’s new mayor will have just a few months to prepare for the 2016 budget... | 8/27/2014
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus