Philly Firm Picked to Renovate the Alamo
Remember the Alamo?
The old Texas mission is historic, but the area surrounding it feels less so — overgrown with hotels and office buildings. Now a Philadelphia firm has been hired to oversee a renovation of the site, with the aim of restoring a sense of reverence and history to the popular landmark.
Preservation Design Partnership will lead that effort, San Antonio officials announced Thursday.
“This is going to be the master planning firm,” The Alamo Endowment’s Gene Powell said. “It’s going to look at the entire Alamo complex, look at the city around the complex, and determine how we redesign and re-image this site.”
Powell said construction could start in late 2017 and hopefully be done before the City of San Antonio’s Tricentennial the following year.
“What I personally envision is a place that anybody can come to and identify with a story here,” District 1 City Councilman Roberto Trevino said. “Somebody comes here they can say ‘wow this is truly a historic spot’ and that they know where they are standing.”
“We are on sacred ground here,” Powell said. “You have diesel buses. It doesn’t feel like a respectful place.”
He said the principals of the PHP firm, Dominique Hawkins and George Skarmeas, “said when they came here that this needs to be a place where people lower their voices.”
The pair will live in San Antonio for a year, Dawson said, and will form a “dream team” with the local and Mexican partner firms of design consultants with experience working on World Heritage Sites who also understand the vibe and culture of modern San Antonio.
PDP specializes in large projects at historical sties. The firm has completed projects at Independence Hall, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Virginia State Capitol and other landmarks.Now, the real work begins for PDP and the other firms. A draft master plan for the plaza may be available as early as fall of 2016. PDP and others involved in the plan will conduct community outreach this summer to formulate the draft.
The Texas legislature has appropriated $30 million for the facelift of the structure. The state’s land commission took over its management last year with the intent to renovate the building and downtown plaza.The renovation project will be run by Philadelphia-based Preservation Design Partnership, which specializes in historic sites and buildings. It will work with Mexico City-based firm Grupo De Diseño Urbano to preserve the site’s bicultural nature.
“We want to go back to 1724 when this site was originally built, and honor those people and those Spanish fathers who came here representing the country of Spain and representing the Catholic Church,” Powell said.