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Respecting local history, community integrity, and context in The Artisan at Ruiz apartment homes.

The project meaningfully engages the street at all seven block faces.
Colors and patterns echo the surrounding neighborhood.
Custom bus shelter, shaded and set back from the street responds to residents’ transit-use patterns
The leasing office and community center is a nod to the disappearing corner tienditas of the neighborhood.
Deep-targeted affordable housing on a transit line close to downtown jobs and services.
Brightly painted steel trellises soften facades in a tribute to the replacement steel porch columns prevalent on surrounding hundred-year-old bungalows.
Tile mosaic derived from patterns of the nearby historic Basila Frocks company. Dress-shaped cutouts change patterns when viewed from different angles.

The Artisan at Ruiz showcases our multi-dimensional understanding of what makes an urban core neighborhood tick – strong cultural roots, aspirational pride, and livability.

San Antonio’s west side is rich in cultural, historical, and architectural character. Its community is fiercely proud of that multigenerational heritage. To successfully knit this new development into that tapestry required that the design and development team be immersed in its physical, social, economic, and emotional context: to not just acknowledge but respond at a fundamental level. What emerged from that process is an addition to the community that respects its place in history while reinforcing the core character and enhancing the functionality of the surrounding neighborhood.

Opportunity Home of San Antonio and Franklin Development
San Antonio, Texas
124,000 SF / 102 units
Completed 2020

Deep-targeted affordable housing on a transit line close to downtown jobs and services.

Unlike many contemporary multifamily projects which are developed and branded with insular identities, the outward-focused design response to the Artisan at Ruiz site evolved from a series of community conversations and an analysis of the context. The result is something that fits. The project actively engages the street at all seven of its block faces by concentrating parking internally away from view. The emphasis at its most visible corner which houses the leasing office and community center is a conscious nod to the familiar but disappearing corner tiendita.

Its contribution is modesty of expression and material composition out of budgetary necessity and contextual imperative.”

We fundamentally believe architecture can – and should – promote the public good. For example, the development team collaborated with the local transit agency to understand ridership patterns and needs then developed a custom bus shelter, lighted 24 hours, to address them. In design for the bus shelter, we took the opportunity to go one step further, elevating it to public art. Punched metal panels cladding the shelter make up an offset grid of cutout dress shapes, referencing legacy dressmaking factories of the local West Side area. The individual cutouts frame the colorful micro-mosaic floral tile pattern in the project’s wall behind, patterning the dresses. It is a small but significant finishing step we undertook to honor legacy, add delight, and strengthen local connection.

Rooted in neighborhood pride as expressed through community voices, the design response amplifies cultural values of the historic West Side and creates a visual springboard for further revitalization.

Jim Bailey, AIA

Project Team


Structural | SEDG
MEP | Raymond Engineers
Civil | Kimley-Horn
Landscape Architect | MP Studio

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