Reimagine The Alamo: GLO Seeks Consultant for Interpretive Plan
Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange
Posted: 8-8-2017, 11:30 p.m.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) – The General Land Office has begun a search for a development team that will be tasked with creating an Interpretive Plan for the Alamo and the lands that comprise its historic boundaries.
The Request for Qualifications issued Monday represents the next step in a multi-million dollar, multi-year process that began in 2015 to consolidate real estate around the state shrine and put together a master plan for its reinvention. This marks the second major RFQ issued on this project; the GLO issued one to recruit the consultant that helped prepare the master plan.
The GLO, in cooperation with the City of San Antonio and the Alamo Endowment commissioned the Alamo Master Plan Management Committee. That committee, relying on a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania consulting firm, Preservation Design Partnership, produced a Master Plan document that was approved earlier this year.
“Our next step is to provide an Interpretive Plan to begin implementation,” the GLO solicitation states.
Although the 48-page RFQ is formerly drafted as GLO Solicitation No. X0013289, the document states later that it was issued by the Alamo Master Plan Management Committee.
“The contract will be between the GLO and the Provider, with oversight by the Management Committee.”
The RFQ is heavily laden with dramatic references to the historic importance of the Alamo in Texas history and the current disorganized state of affairs.
By the time the year 1836 saw the first light in San Antonio the Alamo compound had been battered by hard use and the harsh south Texas weather. In the spring of that year the compound became occupied by revolutionary Texian forces and fortified in an effort to stop the advancement of a large contingent of the Mexican Army led by Presidente General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
Today, the heart-wrenching story of the seminal battle that followed and the mission/garrison where it all happened draws 1.5 million visitors from around the world each year. Unfortunately, they are often disappointed… visitors note the carnival like atmosphere, lack of cohesive narrative, confusing physical layout and lack of gravitas are overwhelming.
Bearing that in mind, the RFQ declares that “The Alamo Master Plan Committee is adamant that the firm hired have an outstanding and relevant resume including excellent references for work done on similar endeavors. The firm selected must share the committee’s desire to ‘think outside the box’ in creating, highlighting, and interpreting a historical site on par with the world’s best.
“The committee’s goal is to create a ‘must see’ destination worthy of the famous battle, worthy of its heroes and worthy of the long and multi layered history of the site. Upon completion, the re-planned site must instantly engage, inspire, and educate visitors all while reinvigorating the city which emerged around the Alamo. The firm selected should enthusiastically accept this vision and the challenge of this remarkable opportunity.”
Scope of Services Requested
The Interpretive Plan shall include the area known as the Alamo Plaza Historic District, with emphasis on the areas within the boundaries of both the historic Mission San Antonio de Valero and the current state-owned Alamo Complex.
The existing conditions—a public place, roadways, retail commerce and a lush garden behind the church—have no relationship to the historic mission as it was originally laid out.
“One of the goals of the Interpretive Plan is to re-establish clarity, order, and organization through physical evidence, interpretation, and exhibits, allowing all users of the site to intuitively understand where the historic courtyard was, what the historic perimeter was, and where the evolution of the City of San Antonio and other initiatives, such as the 1936 Garden, took their own course.”
The existing configuration of Alamo Plaza, Alamo Street and the historic district provide the framework to organize the project area.
It is to have three primary zones:
Zone 1 – Between Market and Commerce Streets
Zone 2 – From Commerce to Crockett Streets
Zone 3 – From Crockett to Houston Streets and from Losoya to Bonham Streets
“The Interpretive Plan shall recommend changes to expand visitor and operational facilities and to promote understanding of the historic Mission San Antonio de Valero boundaries. It shall be guided by the diversity of stories and cultures over the site’s nearly 300-year history, and make connections to the four other Spanish Colonial missions that are also part of the San Antonio Missions World Heritage site.”
Project boundary map, courtesy of City of San Antonio.
The GLO anticipates the selected firm may assemble a team:
“Selection of sub-consultants in specialty areas of exhibit and experience design, will follow the Award under this Solicitation. Respondents are encouraged to recommend firms for these areas or to reflect their own qualifications; but are not to include them as part of the main respondent team without advance authorization.”
There will be optional pre-submittal conferences between August 15-25.
“These Pre-Submittal Conferences shall be led by (Architect/Engineer) and (City of San Antonio) staff, and will consist of a walk-through tour of the state-owned Alamo Complex as well as the area largely defined as the Alamo Plaza Historic District. These Pre-Submittal Conferences shall be no longer than two hours.”
The deadline for responses is September 1. The top candidates will be notified they are on the short list by September 8 and interviews will take place from Sept. 18-19.
The selected firm is expected to be given notice to proceed by November 1 and turn in a Final Interpretive Plan with a cost estimate by May 31, 2018.
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.