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An architectural element within Civic Park at Hemisfair: Amenity Building.

Amenities Building in Civic Park at Hemisfair, downtown San Antonio.
Natural gathering spot: the Amenities Building at JazzSAlive 2023.
The Amenities Building formally defines an edge of Civic Park.
In harmony with both the Convention Center and Civic Park.
Amenities Building as park building, adjacent to water feature.
Roof detail and “eroded” limestone wall detail.
Civic Park Amenities Building, restroom entry.

Inspired by the tradition of the grand garden folly, the Amenity Building is a focal point within Civic Park, adding substance, scale, and orientation.

The structure, a wood-clad roof floating above a rustic “garden wall,” folds seamlessly into the gentle grade of the Park’s landforms. On closer look, the Civic Park Amenity Building tells multiple layered stories; of local geology, of time and water, and of the poetic tradition of the garden folly.

Hemisfair Redevelopment Corporation
San Antonio, Texas
1,584 SF
2023

Natural gathering spot: the Amenities Building at JazzSAlive 2023.
Natural gathering spot: the Amenities Building at JazzSAlive 2023.

Civic Park Amenity Building: Site Context.

Located in downtown San Antonio, a city known for hosting tens of millions of visitors each year, Civic Park is instead proposed as a draw for locals – San Antonio’s “front porch.” Set within the 16-acre Hemisfair Park redevelopment, the Park is sited west of the City’s Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, near hotels and River Walk attractions.

The Park is designed to be a “place that fits” San Antonio’s life, character, and vision. One example, “The Water Story of San Antonio and the Hill Country,” uses the model of a South Texas spring feeding a river flowing through local geology. This idea is realized in a landscaped promenade along a sculptural water element. Conservation through re-use of water in the Park is another theme tied to San Antonio.

Amenities Building: Functionality Within An Evocative Envelope

As architectural consultant to Civic Park’s lead landscape design firm, we received the commission to design a restroom facility along the edge of the Park. Originally programmed simply to enclose water collection equipment and public restrooms, we found opportunity instead to enhance its status. Rather than simply letting the functional aspects of the structure dictate form, we developed a true park building – elevating the building to a focal point within the Park’s formal composition.

Within the building, materiality balances expression with practicality. Patterned concrete tile adds a local cultural note, and Spanish Cedar on the up-lit roof lends warmth. Porcelain wall tile is specified for compatibility with the exterior limestone while providing durability and ease of maintenance in this high-traffic park facility.

Adding an element of placemaking, we extended the cantilevered roof beyond the building, gathering in the seating terrace below. The roof shape helps ventilate the building during San Antonio’s hot summers. The tiered plinth outdoor seating borrows the escarpment formation Civic Park vocabulary, and the stepped surfaces create informal seating.

Rather than simply letting the functional aspects of the structure dictate form, we developed a true park building – elevating the building to a focal point within the Park’s formal composition.

Billy Lawrence, AIA

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