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McChesney Bianco Seeking Concept OK for UIW at Brooks Exteriors

Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange

Update: 6-2-2016, 5 p.m.

On Wednesday, the Historic and Design Review Commission gave conceptual approval to the design options produced by TBG Partners landscape architects.

One of the most significant changes is a plan to cut off vehicular traffic from the southmost section of historic Kennedy Circle and convert it into a key element of a pedestrian promenade that would be surrounded by the buildings to be used for classrooms.

City staff was in disagreement with the proposed use of red brick pavers  for the promendade and pedestrian-dedicated portions of the circle, and insisted it remain grey concrete.

Lead architect Joe Bianco noted that the historic campus used grey concrete because the Air Force was on a small budget and had to do everything on the cheap. He added that in its former life Air Force staff were assigned to particular buildings and stayed there throughout the shift.

“The nature of a university medical school is you’re going to go from building to building constantly as the day progresses. We’re trying to make this more of a pedestrian campus, instead of a vehicular campus,” Bianco said.

TBG Partners senior associate Elaine Kearney told commissioners the design team had the benefit of access to the Air Force’s original master plan to help guide their decisions. In it were goals that were apparently never fully implemented because of budgetary issues.

“This was intended to be a campus plan,” Kearney said. “It was supposed to be pedestrian oriented and walkable. It also talks about the importance of common green spaces and moving parking off to the perimeter.”

Kearny said the red shaded areas on the concept site plan would be primarily concrete, possibly with enhance scoring patterns, and the use of brick would be for accent purposes.

The design team drew up circular roundabouts at both ends of where the pedestrian section begins, in order to allow vehicles to drop off students. Only emergency vehicles would have access beyond the roundabouts.

While the commissioners accepted the use of brick as an accent feature only, they insisted the design team reconsider the roundabouts.

Another disagreement Bianco had with staff was over the introduction of windows. City staff did not want windows, but Bianco insisted the buildings were too reliant on artificial light and students needed natural light. The commissioners agreed and allowed for a proposal to renovate certain walls for windows.

Posted: 5-31-2016, 2:04 p.m.

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar Co.) – McChesney Bianco Architecture goes before the Historic and Design Review Commission tomorrow for conceptual approval of the exterior remodeling, landscaping, parking and street realignment of the University of the Incarnate Word’s extension school.

This is for the second and third phases of an ongoing major renovation. The most obvious exterior change is the reconfiguration of Dave Erwin Drive along the western border of the campus; that site work has already been underway.

City staff has yet to produce an analysis or recommendation, however, the architect for UIW states the new School of Osteopathic Medicine will occupy up to seven of the Brooks City Base buildings in the former School of Aerospace Medicine. This is a historic district.

“Phase I initiated the entire project with the renovation of Building 150, which is currently in progress,” according to the firm’s narrative. Phase I went through HDRC review in November 2015; this was primarily for interior renovations at Bldg 150: meeting and classroom spaces, a chapel, new elevator, reconfigured lobby, reconstructed south entrance, and staff offices.

“The preceding Phase II project includes renovations to buildings 100, 155 and 180.”

Phase III constitutes renovations of exterior areas. Opening is scheduled for March 15, 2017.

One of the most distinctive features of the campus is a grand semi-circle lawn on the north end. Building 150 faces the lawn and behind it is a long rectangular green space that has been targeted for special consideration.

The green space is surrounded by five buildings and two design options are being presented to convert it into the “Plaza Promenade” of Kennedy Circle. However, the TBG Partners documents are notated to show a preference for Option Two.

The architect’s notes state, “In addition to renovations previously approved for Phase II building 180 exterior, we propose to add new windows to the two-story portion west entrance and the second floor classrooms. The proposed west entrance window is on a significant facade and will be an aluminum curtainwall system similar in configuration to existing building windows and encased in a cast stone opening.”

Classroom windows will be arranged on the “non-significant north and south facades,” the narrative continues. “Two windows per classroom (three total) will be smaller in size with a cast stone sill. All cast stone elements will match existing in profile and color.”

Phase III site renovations include pedestrian walkway revisions, landscaping, site lighting, site furnishings, and new parking areas. The architect also proposes creation of a “healing garden” at Building 100 and improvements to the existing outdoor courtyard at Building 180.


adolfo@virtualbx.com

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About the Author:

Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.

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