by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) – More than 40 principals and associates from architectural firms attended a Thursday pre-proposal meeting at Brooks in response for a Request for Qualifications for a general architect consultant.
Brooks, formerly known as Brooks City Base, has redeveloped approximately half of the 1,300 acres the city inherited when the Department of Defense decommissioned Brooks Air Force Base in 2011. Early development was concentrated toward the east side of the campus with a mix of shopping centers, medical facilities, rental housing and some industrial tenants.
More recently, the Brooks Development Authority (BDA) opened up the west sectors with a University of Incarnate Word branch campus, other schools, and high-density housing along the recently opened 43-acre Greenline, a linear park that follows the path of a tributary creek of the San Antonio River.
Brooks still has about 700 acres of property that the BDA intends to develop.
Oversight of development in the Town Center zone will be a major responsibility of the selected General Architectural Consultant. Google Map with graphics by Adolfo Pesquera.
Included in the redevelopment plans is a town center in the center of the campus. The RFQ issued April 18 is intended to establish several teams of architects–at least three teams–that will be led by a General Architectural Consultant. It will be the GAC’s responsibility to update the campus master plan and function as an overseer to ensure all of the upcoming projects are consistent with a cohesive architectural set of guidelines.
“The GAC will serve as the prime firm and will oversee other architectural firms and associated consultants with providing architectural services for campus projects,” the RFQ states.
The competing firms must have their proposals submitted by May 14. Each will be scored on their expertise and experience in master planning, land-use planning, as well as experience with Smart Cities concepts and low impact development practices.
Marques Mitchell, the Brooks director of planning and development, said the completion of an updated master plan is the GAC’s first priority. A close second, however, is the creation of a historical plan. The BDA recently restored Hangar 9, the oldest known wood-frame World War I era hangar. It is considered the most important historic building on campus, but there are others yet to be addressed.
Brooks planning and development director Marques Mitchell, (right), discusses the need for a General Architectural Consultant before a group of architects. Photo credit: Adolfo Pesquera.
The importance of the master plan ties into pending plans for a town center, a mixed-use concept that has long been on the Development Authority’s wishlist. The opening in 2017 of the Embassy Suites by Hilton was a critical first piece within the town center boundaries, and plans are in progress to build a transit center/office complex at the northwest corner of South New Braunfels Avenue and Sidney Brooks in collaboration with VIA Metropolitan Transit.
The transit center has yet to break ground, but construction is slated for completion in early 2019.
The BDA and NRP Group entered a Memorandum of Understanding this past September that would make NRP Group the master developer of Phase 1 of the Brooks Town Center. Up until now, BDA and NRP Group have been relying on a master plan concept that was created by Douglas Architects in the 2016 to early 2017 time period.
When NRP Group was brought on board, they were to produce a conceptual design within 180 days.
During a question and answer session, Mitchell was asked if there were any models that would be applicable. Mitchell said the conversion of Bergstrom AFB into Mueller Austin was the first that came to mind. He also noted that BDA President/CEO Leo Gomez had visited the former Lowry AFB in Denver and was impressed with the work of the Lowry Redevelopment Authority.
Hangar 9, a rare World War I era aviation hangar, was restored in 2017. Brooks is planning to create an updated historical record and plan. Image: Google Maps.